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Federal Employees’ Retirement System: Summary of Recent Trends

CRS Report – Federal Employees’ Retirement System: Summary of Recent Trends. January 23, 2004 – February 2, 2018
This report describes recent trends in the characteristics of annuitants and current employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) as well as the financial status of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF). In FY2016, 94% of current civilian federal employees were enrolled in FERS, which covers employees hired since 1984. Six percent were enrolled in CSRS, which covers only employees hired before 1984. In FY2016, more than 2.6 million people received civil service annuity payments, including 2,077,804 employee annuitants and 533,884 survivor annuitants. Of these individuals, 72% received annuities earned under CSRS. About one-third of all federal employee annuitants and survivor annuitants reside in five states: California, Texas, Florida, Maryland, and Virginia. The average civilian federal employee who retired in FY2016 was 61.3 years old and had completed 25.6 years of federal service. The average monthly annuity payment to workers who retired under CSRS in FY2016 was $4,755. Workers who retired under FERS received an average monthly annuity of $1,714. Employees retiring under FERS had a shorter average length of service than those under CSRS. FERS annuities are supplemented by Social Security benefits and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). At the end of FY2016, the balance of the CSRDF was $879.8 billion, an amount equal to more than 10 times the amount of outlays from the fund that year. The trust fund balance is expected to reach $909 billion by the end of FY2018. From FY1970 to FY1985, the number of people receiving federal civil service annuities rose from fewer than 1 million to nearly 2 million, an increase of 105%. Between FY1985 and FY2016, the number of civil service annuitants rose by 680,000, an increase of about 35%. In FY2013, the number of civilian federal employees, including Postal Service employees, totaled 3.3 million workers. This was 254,000 less than the number of employees in FY2000, and 480,000 fewer than the number of employees in FY1994. In FY2016, all CSRS employees were aged 45 or older, compared with 61% of FERS employees who were aged 45 or older (38.6% of FERS employees were younger than 45). Fifty five percent of CSRS employees were aged 60 or older, whereas 13% of FERS employees were in this age range.”

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