Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Value of CSRS annuity

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Q. How can I find out the total value of my CSRS pension? Is there a methodology or interactive tool online where I enter my annual earnings throughout my career and a value is produced? I am a few years away from retirement and, from my annual personal benefits statement, I see my estimated monthly annuity based on options for when I retire and what survivor benefit I choose. But what is the total value today: past contributions + interest? My situation: totally CSRS (no FERS), no break in service, no extra contributions or withdrawals, just a straight 30 years of CSRS deductions from paycheck.

A. Perhaps my colleague, Mike Miles, will have a better answer to your question. As far as I know, there isn’t any reliable way to determine the present value (or the total value) of a CSRS annuity. The reason is that there is no direct correspondence between what you contribute to the retirement fund and what you receive in benefits. While you can know how much you’ve put in, unless you know when you’ll retire, what the annual cost-of-living adjustments will be, and the day on which you’ll die, you’ll only be fiddling with numbers that have no basis in reality. P.S. If you were to leave government and request a refund of your contributions, you wouldn’t receive one cent of interest on them.

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