Overview of Federal Retirement Programs

T-GGD-95-172: Published: May 22, 1995. Publicly Released: May 22, 1995.

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GAO discussed federal retirement issues, focusing on the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). GAO noted that: (1) CSRS has been closed to new entrants since 1983 and is a stand-alone pension system, while FERS covers employees who began federal service after 1983 and includes social security coverage, a pension plan, and a thrift savings plan; (2) CSRS and FERS paid annuities to about 1.7-million retirees and 600,000 beneficiaries at an annual rate of about $36 billion at the end of fiscal year 1994; (3) CSRS employees are allowed to retire at age 55, while FERS employees may retire at age 57; (4) the average CSRS retirement age is 61.5 and the average FERS retirement age is 63.5; (5) CSRS provides greater benefits at age 55 than nonfederal plans, but nonfederal benefits are superior at age 62; (6) although CSRS provides greater inflation protection for retirees than FERS or nonfederal plans, nonfederal plans are more likely to adjust benefit amounts; and (7) CSRS, FERS, and social security funds are all financed through investments in Treasury securities.

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