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Retirement Calculator FAQs


1. How do I get into the system?

You can access the system through HR Connect.  Click on the “Retirement Calculator GRB” button and you will be directed to the landing page.  Then click on the “Retirement” thumbnail.  Here is a link to a step-by-step guide to help you get there: How to access the Retirement Calculator.

If you are still having trouble, email us at APHIS.Retirement.Calculator.helpbox@usda.gov.

2. I don’t understand how to run an estimate. Where do I go for help?

Here is a link to a step-by-step guide:  How to run a retirement estimate

If you still have questions, email us at APHIS.Retirement.Calculator.helpbox@usda.gov.

3. I don’t understand how to interpret the estimate report. Where do I go for help?

Here is a link to an explanation of it:  How to interpret the retirement estimate report. 
You may also find it informative to read the Limitations of the Retirement Calculator.

If you still have questions, email us at APHIS.Retirement.Calculator.helpbox@usda.gov.

4. How do I find my salary history so I can enter it into the High-3 calculator?

You can find your pay effective dates and annual pay rates by reviewing either your Leave and Earnings Statement in your Employee Personal Page or your SF-50s in your electronic Official Personnel File.

5. The New User video said I could submit forms.  How do I do this? 

This functionality is not yet available.

6. When can I retire?

You must meet age and length of service requirements to be eligible to retire.

7. The Retirement Calculator shows an estimated monthly benefit for early retirement.  Does this mean that I qualify for early retirement?

No, early retirement is a type of retirement not currently available to any of our employees.
If the agency undergoes a major reorganization, reduction in force, or transfer of function, and a significant percentage of the employees will be separated, or will be reduced in pay, the head of the agency can ask the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to permit early optional retirement for eligible employees. If the agency gets approval to permit early optional retirements, eligible employees will be notified of the opportunity to retire voluntarily.

8. My Retirement SCD review is wrong. It doesn’t match the SCD listed on my SF-50.  How do I get it updated?

The Service Computation Date on your SF-50 is your Leave SCD and it is used to determine your leave accrual category.  Your Retirement SCD is governed by different rules so these two dates will not necessarily be the same. If you believe your Retirement SCD is wrong, you may request an SCD review by sending an email to APHIS.Retirement.Calculator.helpbox@usda.gov and a member of the Benefits Team will add you to our list of pending service history reviews. 

9. My sick leave and annual leave hours listed in the calculator are wrong.  How can I fix it?

The leave balances are pulled from the last payroll run.  The calculator does not automatically project your leave.  Therefore, your unused sick leave credit will be calculated based on your current sick leave balance, not what you would have earned if you worked up to your retirement date.  The tool will allow you to change the leave amount so you can make projections based on how much sick leave you believe you will have on your chosen retirement date.

Keep in mind that after you separate, your timekeeper will do an audit and certify your final unused leave balances.     

10. Why are the numbers from the Retirement Calculator different than my Personal Benefits Statement and/or the annuity estimate I got from my Benefits Specialist?

A formula will be used to calculate your annuity and it will be based upon your high-3 average salary and amount of creditable service.  In a nutshell, this means that the more you make and the longer you work, the greater your annuity so if the estimates you are comparing are for different retirement dates, the numbers will vary.  Similarly, if the high-3 salary listed on the estimates are different, the amount of your annuity will be different.

The source used to calculate your high-3 salary and amount of creditable service may not be the same.

  • The Retirement Calculator draws its information from our personnel and payroll database as of the last payroll run.  It uses 96% of your current salary as your high-3 average salary.  And it uses the Retirement Service Computation Date (SCD) for Eligibility as well as your unused sick leave balance to calculate the amount of your creditable service.
  • The payroll office generates your annual Personal Benefits Statement based upon the data in the personnel and payroll system at a fixed point in time (usually the end of pay period 26).  If you are not eligible to retire within 3 years, your salary as of the date of the statement will be used as your high-3 salary.  If you are eligible to retire within 3 years of the date of the statement, your last 3 years of salary will be used to calculate your high-3 salary.  If the payroll system does not have your prior 3 years of salary, it makes assumptions about your pay history.  It only uses your Retirement SCD for Eligibility to calculate your amount of creditable service.
  • Your Benefits Specialist determines your high-3 salary and amount of creditable service based upon your official personnel and payroll records.  Unlike the estimates generated from Retirement Calculator and Benefits Statement, the estimates your specialist provides you will be comprehensive.  When determining your high-3 average salary, they will use your highest 3 consecutive years of basic salary (which includes locality pay but not overtime or bonuses) whenever it occurred.  This average will be weighted by how long you have been at each pay rate.  They will also apply all laws and regulations that affect to your service credit and computation, such as:
    • Any applicable reductions for unpaid redeposit service, unpaid civilian deposits and/or unpaid military deposits 
    • Any applicable proration based upon part-time service
    • Any applicable unused sick leave credit as of the date of the estimate
    • Applicable offset amounts for CSRS Offset employees

Neither the Retirement Calculator nor the Benefits Statement is sophisticated enough to factor in these variables, which can significantly affect the amount of your annuity.  Your specialist will also confirm your benefit entitlements (i.e., your eligibility to continue health and life insurance into retirement) and provide you with relevant comparative estimates and counseling.

If you appear eligible for the FERS supplement, the calculator will use a salary model rather than your actual salary history and therefore the amount shown may be overstated or understated.  Your Benefits Specialist will make an approximation of your salary history.  The figure for the FERS supplement in either case should be considered a ballpark figure only. 

11. I want to retire now. What do I do?

Contact your servicing Benefits Specialist for assistance.

12. Where can I get the retirement application forms?

Contact your servicing Benefits Specialist for assistance.

13. The Retirement Calculator estimate shows a deduction for health and life insurance, does this mean I can carry the coverage into retirement?

The calculator will display your current enrollment as of the last payroll run.  It cannot determine whether or not you meet the requirements to continue the coverage into retirement. 

Here are the requirements:
In order to be eligible to continue your health insurance into retirement, you must:

  1. Be entitled to retire on an immediate annuity under a retirement system for civilian employees (including retirements under FERS Minimum Retirement Age + 10); and
  2. Have been continuously enrolled (or covered as a family member) in any FEHB plan(s) for the 5 years of service immediately before the date the annuity starts, or for the full period(s) of service since your first opportunity to enroll (if less than 5 years).

In order to be eligible to continue your life insurance coverage into retirement, you must:

  1. Be entitled to retire on an immediate annuity under a retirement system for civilian employees (including retirements under FERS Minimum Retirement Age + 10); and
  2. Have been insured for the 5 years of service immediately before the date your annuity starts, or for the full period(s) of service since your first opportunity to enroll (if less than 5 years); and
  3. Have not converted your life insurance coverage into an individual policy.
  4. Note that the 5-year rule will be applied independently for each type of coverage, that is for Basic, Option A, Option B, and Option C coverage.  So, for example, if you had basic coverage for 20 years but Option C coverage for 2 years, then you would only be able to continue your Basic coverage into retirement.
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