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Retirement Deductions Refunds Fact Sheet

Updated July 2021

When separating from the Federal Government and not eligible for an immediate retirement, you may apply for a refund of your retirement contributions or leave the contributions in the retirement fund until you are eligible for a deferred retirement. If you are thinking about withdrawing your retirement contribution, the information on this fact sheet will assist you in making an informed decision.

Eligibility Requirements

To receive a refund, you must meet ALL the following criteria:

  1. Be separated from the Federal government for at least 31 consecutive days OR be transferred to a position not subject to CSRS or FERS retirement deductions for at least 31 days;
  2. Not be reemployed in a position subject to CSRS or FERS retirement deductions at the time you file your application for refund;
  3. Be ineligible to receive an immediate annuity within 31 days of separation;
  4. Not be prohibited from receiving a refund due to a court order; and
  5. Notify your current and/or former spouse(s) of the refund request, if applicable.

Refunds May Be an Advantage

  • If you have less than 5 years of creditable civilian service and you do not intend to return to Federal Employment (you must have at least 5 years of creditable civilian service to receive an annuity);
  • If you have 5 or more years of creditable civilian service, you do not intend to return to Federal employment, and you believe that you can invest the funds so that the final value of such investments exceeds the value of the deferred annuity. (You might want to visit a financial advisor to determine the value of each situation). When you apply for a deferred annuity, you can provide a survivor annuity for your spouse. (CSRS and FERS employees may apply for a deferred annuity at the age of 62 with 5 or more years of creditable service. FERS employees have the option of applying for deferred retirement when they reach their Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) and have at least 10 years of creditable service.
  • P.L. 111-84, Section 1902, now permits actuarial reductions in lieu of cash redeposits for refunds covering periods of service ending prior to 03-01-1991. The amendment applies only to non-disability annuities based on a separation from service occurring on or after 10-28-2009.
  • Section 1904 now permits individuals who are later reemployed, to make a redeposit of the amount refunded, plus interest, and to have credit for the service reinstated.
  • For the purpose of survivor annuities, redeposits may also be made by survivors.

Refunds May Be a Disadvantage

  • If you have at least 5 years of creditable civilian service and your deferred retirement annuity may exceed the value of the lump-sum refund. It is recommended that when considering taking a refund, you first evaluate the potential value of the deferred retirement annuity in comparison to the principle and investment potential of the refunded deductions.
  • If you are reemployed by the Federal government and wish to receive credit for the refunded service, you may find that regaining the credit is difficult. For CSRS, a redeposit plus interest will be required. The cost of the redeposit equals the amount of the refund received plus interest.
  • A CSRS refund of all deductions voids any retirement options, including survivor benefits, until the refund is re-deposited.
  • In the event of your death before you are eligible for a deferred retirement, all money in the retirement fund will be payable to your designated beneficiary (or in accordance with the order of precedence) as a lump sum benefit. The lump sum credit continues to accrue interest at the market interest rate if a refund is not taken.


If you elect to apply for a refund of your retirement contributions, and are separated, you must complete the appropriate refund application.

If you have been separated from employment 30 days or less, mail your application for refund to your servicing personnel office who will complete the agency portion and forward your application to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). A copy of the completed information will be returned to you for your records.

You can typically expect to receive your refund within 30 to 45 days from the date OPM receives all your necessary forms. However, timeframes can vary if there are holds or other restrictions on your account that require review and action.

If you have been separated from Federal employment more than 30 days, mail your application directly to OPM:

Office of Personnel Management
Retirement Operations Center
PO Box 45
Boyers PA 16017-0045


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