What Are the Effects of SES on Retirement?

Senior Executive Service (SES) is a performance-based pay system for government employees. The pay and benefits system for executives and leaders differs from other government positions. SES retirement benefits are similar to other non-SES employees, but there are some key differences.

Benefits of SES

What are SES benefits? One of the SES benefits is that you could be nominated for a Presidential Rank Award for sustained exemplary performance. This gives you the title of Distinguished Rank and makes you entitled to a payment of ​35​ percent of your annual basic pay. You could also receive an award of Meritorious Rank, which makes you eligible to receive a bonus of ​20​ percent of your annual basic pay.

SES employees can accrue annual leave at ​8 hours​ per bi-weekly pay period. You can accrue up to ​13​ sick days per year with no limit on how much can carry over from year to year. If you accrue ​24​ months of continuous service outside the United States, you can take ​one week​ of home leave for every ​four months​ of service. In some cases, you might be granted military leave, too.

SES employees receive excellent benefits when they retire. If you are a career appointee, you will receive moving expenses if you moved as a requirement of your position when you retire. You will be eligible for one of several different retirement plans based on your agency or branch of service.

Most SES employees are eligible for retirement under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Within these plans are several tiers that determine your eligibility for Social Security benefits, a basic benefit plan or a Thrift Savings Plan. Several other variations of these plans are available.

What Are the SES levels?

SES employees receive different salaries depending on whether they are employed by an agency with a Certified SES Performance Appraisal System or without one. The base pay for both categories is ​$132,552​. The maximum for an agency with a Certified Appraisal System is ​$199,300​, while agencies without one have a cap at ​$183,300​.

How is SES salary determined? The SES has five ES levels where an ES 5 is the lowest and an ES 1 is the highest. All of these positions require a Ph.D. Salaries range from ​$161,700​ for an ES 5 to ​$221,400​ for an ES 1.

Typical SES Salaries

How much money does an SES make? The basic pay rate for SES employees is ​one percent​ of a GS-15. Based on performance, it has a maximum of Level II on the executive pay schedule. If you qualify for this type of pay, you can also receive bonuses that are dependent on ratings during your last appraisal period.

SES Retirement Pay Calculation

Your SES retirement annuity is calculated in the same way as for a non-SES employee, but you do have a higher leave carryover ceiling. Your leave carryover is ​720​ hours as compared to ​240​ for non-SES employees.

How do I calculate my FERS retirement? If your retirement falls under the FERS system, your retirement is calculated at one percent per year of your average high-3. High-3 is the highest three basic pay levels you received in any three consecutive years of service. This is usually the last three years in most cases.

This is similar to the way retirement is calculated for a G-7 level employee. You must be vested for five years to receive retirement at the SES level. This means that after ​20​ years of service at the SES level, you will receive ​20​ percent of your high-3.