What issues should an employee consider in making his/her decision?
"They should think about whether they expect to retire from the government. CSRS is a very good system for people who make a career out of federal service, but if you leave before retirement, you may be better off transferring to FERS.
"Even if you expect to retire from government service, you need to think about when you want to retire. In some cases, if you switch to FERS, you can retire earlier than you can if you stay under CSRS. In other cases, you may have to wait a little longer under FERS to retire.
"Another consideration is your ability to save. If you switch to FERS, it is essential that you take advantage of the Thrift Savings Plan. Can you contribute 3 to 5 percent of your salary to the TSP, and can you sustain that contribution level until you retire? That is, do you expect to have other financial responsibilities in the future like college expenses, or caring for elderly parents that may affect your ability to save? And, of course, the more time you have until retirement, the more your TSP balance can grow.
"You also need to look at the impact a switch to FERS would have on your entitlement to a Social Security benefit. If you switch to FERS, will you work long enough to qualify for a Social Security benefit -- either based on your own earnings, or the earnings record of your spouse?
"Other issues an employee may want to consider are survivor protection, inflation protection and disability protection."
-Mary Sugar, chief of the Office of Personnel Management's Agency Services Division