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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q.
    What are the basic structure of old-age income security programmes in Korea?

    There are four different public pension programmes categorized by working sectors such as the National Pension Scheme (NPS) and three other occupational pensions (GEPS, MPPS and PSTPS) which are exclusive to each other in pension coverage.

    • The Government Employees Pension Scheme (GEPS) or Civil Service Pension System was introduced in 1960 as the first public pension and others are followed : Military Personnel Pension Scheme (MPPS) in 1962, Private School Teachers Pension Scheme (PSTPS) in 1975 and NPS in 1988
    (다음내용 참고)
    Four different public pension programmes categorized by working sectors
    private sector employees self-employed civil servants military personnel private school teachers
    3 Tier Individual Private pensions(voluntary)
    2 Tier Retirement Allowance Civil Service Pension Scheme (Retirement Allowance included) Military Personnel Prnsion Scheme (Retirement Allowance included) Private School Teachers Pension Scheme (Retirement Allowance included)
    1 Tier National Pension Scheme
    0 Tier Basic Pension Scheme
    * The Retirement Allowance for civil servants, military personnel and private school teachers is 39 percent of that for private sector employees.
  • Q.
    Currently, how many people are covered by the public pension programmes in Korea?

    The number of people in Public Pensions (in 2016)

    The number of people in Public Pensions (in 2016) : NPS, GEPS, PTSPS, MPPS
    NPS GEPS PTSPS
    contributors (a) in ten thousands 2,183 111 18
    pensioners(b) in ten thousands 413 45 9
    in total (C=a+b) 2,596 156 27
    dependency ratio (b/a) 18.9% 40.5% 20.4%
    the ratio of coverage of pensions (C) relative to the population* 50.7% 3.0% 0.5%
    * Population of South Korea: 5,125 (in ten thousand people)
  • Q.
    How many reforms had been completed before the 2015 GEPS reform and what were main changes?

    There were three major reforms before 2015. Main changes are as follows.

    Main changes
    Main Changes
    1995 Reform Increasing contribution (employee+gov't) rates (7.2% → 8.4%)
    Introducing the retirement age (age of 60 only to the newly hired)
    2000 Reform Increasing contribution (employee+gov't) rate (8.4% → 11%)
    Raising the retirement age of the hired before 1996 incrementally (will be set 50 at 2001 and raised 60 until 2021)
    Expending period of pension calculation (final wage → final 3 years' average wage)
    2009 Reform Increasing contribution (employee+gov't) rates (11% → 14%)
    accrual rates of pension (2.1% → 1.9%)
    Raising the retirement age (65 only to the newly hired)
  • Q.
    What are main changes of the 2015 pension reform?

    The 2015 pension reform is the most recent and the strongest in cost reduction through social consensus mechanism with the participation of a wide rage of stake-holders. These are main changes.

    before the reform, after the reform
    before the reform after the reform
    income base gross wage (no change)
    ceiling of contribution and benefits 1.8 times of average
    wage for all members
    1.6 times of average wage for all members
    benefit formula of retirement benefits
    (accrual rate per year)
    1.9%× n
    * n : contributory year
    1.7%× n
    * n : contributory year
    maximum years of contribution 33 years 36 years
    contribution rate employee 7% 9.0%
    (8%('16)→8.25%('17)→8.5%('18)→8.75%('19) →9%('20))
    gov't 7% 9.0% (The samerates as the above)
    pension base career average gross wage
    normal retirement age the newly 60 65 (11 years' transition)
    the current 65
    cost-of-living increases CPI (no change)
    pension freezing no 5 years (2016~2020)
    minimum service years 20 10
    survivors’ pension the newly 70% 60%
    the current 60%
    non-job related disability pension no yes
    income redistribution no yes
    pension splitting no yes
    earnings test reference earning average salary average pension
    coverage real estate income excluded real estate income included
  • Q.
    Was there any consideration on integrating Civil Service Pension into National Pension during the recent pension reform process?

    Some argued that the GEPS should be integrated into the NPS. However it turns out that there are several obstacles to implement the idea.

    • Firstly, the revenue of contributions from both active civil servants and the government would be strikingly reduced if new civil servants enter the NPS instead of entering the GEPS after the reform. The increasing shortage (the gap between annual revenues and pension expenditures) of pension spendings due to the integration should be made up from tax payers.
    • Secondly, the lowering of contribution rates does not get along with the global trend where population is ageing and pension expenditures are increasing.
    • Thirdly, many agree that the separate GEPS from national pension has lots of advantages to maintain the career-based civil service system distinguished by banning on holding profit-making jobs while in service, reducing a half amount of pension when dismissed from the office or punished for the crime.
  • Q.
    Why did the civil service trade unions resist the pension reform? In what way, could the reform policy alleviate the their resistance?

    Civil service trade unions (CSTUs) had argued that the government should increase the employer’s contribution rates because the shortage of pension spendings was greatly caused by a very low contribution rate from the government compared to most advanced countries.

    • They protested the reform in many ways such as blocking a public hearing for the new reform plan (22 Sep 2014), a massive assembly up to 100,000 people (28 Nov 2014) and advertising through TV commercials focusing on strength for public pensions (Feb to Apr in 2015)

    Met with the strong opposition of the CSTUs, the National Assembly set up Special National Assembly Committee (SNAC) in October 2015 that would seek a social consensus. Also, Grand Compromise Committee (GCC) was established in order to discuss reform measures and to provide reform proposal to the Special Committee.

    • There was no possibility of reaching consensus within time schedule even within five dozens of conferences.
    • However, as the first trial in Korean history led by the National Assembly, all participants including the trade unions had understood the inevitability of the pension reform with the open-minded meetings.
    • Eventually, the Korean National Assembly passed the much needed reform of the public employee pension system in May this year, after 5 months over 90 formal and informal discussions since the GCC was established.

    It could be said that the 2015 pension reform has successfully ended because the National Assembly opened a way to resolve the problem of public pension reform through public consensus, in particular, opening the GCC where the CSTUs were enable to express their suggestions in a formal way.

  • Q.
    What are the main changes in contributions and pension benefits in the pension reform?

    The career civil servants are broadly categorized into several groups in Korea such as general services personnel, public teachers, Judges and Prosecutors in which the general services personnel have a majority.

    • There are 9 graded in the general services personnel, with grade 1 being the highest and 9 the lowest. They are recruited by the 9th, 7th, and 5th grade levels by the entrance exams.

    Upon the 2015 pension reform, the contribution(combined) rates of 14% will be increased to 18%, while the new accrual rates of pension will be decreased from the current 1.9% to 1.7% gradually

    • The retirement age will be raised up to the age of 65, which makes the amount of contribution higher but that of pension benefits lower
    (in ten thousand won)
    The amount of contritions, The amount of Pension benefits
    before (a) after (b) (b-a)/a
    recruited by the 9th grade
    → retired by the 6th grade
    The amount of contritions
    (employee+gov't)
    42 54 +28%
    The amount of Pension benefits 137 134 -2%
    recruited by the 7th grade
    → retired by the 4th grade
    The amount of contritions
    (employee+employer)
    53 68 +28%
    The amount of Pension benefits 173 157 -9%
    recruited by the 5th grade
    → retired by the 2th grade
    The amount of contritions
    (employee+employer)
    63 80 +27%
    The amount of Pension benefits 205 177 -14%
  • Q.
    How is the management of Government Employees Pension Fund?

    The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) has been operating by the Government Employees Pension Service established in 1982, which are strictly supervised or inspected by the National Assembly, the Board of Audit and Inspection, accounting firms and the Government.

    The Korean Civil Service Pension Scheme is financed by a pay-as-you-go plan so that the annual pension expenditures are mainly financed by the revenues from the contributions of both civil servants and the government.

    • The role of the GEPF is mainly to keep reserve requirements or a contingency fund for the purpose of averting temporary liquidity risks.
    • The amount of the GEPF was 10.3 trillion won in 2016.
  • Q.
    Is a newly-appointed civil servant, or a government employee, required to make a personal registration with the pension management agency to be covered by the Government Employees Pension Scheme?

    No. A newly-appointed civil servant should make a personal registration with the agency. Instead, all those that are newly appointed to the same agency are subject to a blanket registration made by agency staff in charge of the agency concerned.

  • Q.
    Is a newly-appointed civil servant required to pay employee contributions (i.e. premiums)?

    Yes. All newly-appointed civil servants are subject to the Government Employees Pension Act. Contributions should be paid in monthly installments from the month including the date of appointment to the month including the day immediately preceding the date of his/her retirement. The agency staff in charge of the agency withholds the required contribution from the monthly pay of the civil servants. As his/her employer, the national government also pays the same amount of contributions for each civil servant.

  • Q.
    How much should a civil servant pay as a monthly contribution (i.e. premium) according to the Government Employees Pension Scheme?

    The contribution rate as of 2017 is 8.25% of the monthly pensionable pay. The rate is to be raised as per below until 2020:

    monthly pensionable pay
    Year 2018 2019 2020~
    Contribution rate 8.5% 8.75% 9%
  • Q.
    What are the eligibilities and the accrual rates of retirement pension?

    Under the Government Employees Pension Act, a civil servant is entitled to receive his/her retirement pension with 10 years or more in service and reaching the age entitled to receive the pension. The annual accrual rates are as follows:

    retirement pension
    Year Accrual rate(%) Year Accrual rate(%) Year Accrual rate(%)
    2016 1.878 2023 1.76 2030 1.72
    2017 1.856 2024 1.75 2031 1.716
    2018 1.834 2025 1.74 2032 1.712
    2019 1.812 2026 1.736 2033 1.708
    2020 1.79 2027 1.732 2034 1.704
    2021 1.78 2028 1.728 2035~ 1.7
    2022 1.77 2029 1.724

    The payment of a retirement pension commences when a civil servant with the tenure of 10 years or over reaches the age as per given in the following table. The commencement age is to be raised up to 65 until 2033.

    retirement pension
    Year of retirement Commencement age Year of retirement Commencement age
    2016~2021 60 years old 2027~2029 63 years old
    2022~2023 61 years old 2030~2032 64 years old
    2024~2026 62 years old 2033~ 65 years old
  • Q.
    What are the types of retirement benefits and how much is paid for each benefit?

    The Government Employees Pension Scheme is largely divided into a retirement pension and a retirement lump sum. The retirement pension is paid to the civil servants with the tenure of 10 years or over. Those that served less than 10 years are entitled to receive a retirement lump-sum. The benefits are calculated as follows:

    • Retirement pension: total service years x yearly pension accrual rate x monthly pensionable pay
    • Retirement Lump-sum:
      1. From 5 service years to under 10 service years: monthly pensionable pay x total service years x (975/1000+ more than 5 less than 10 years of service x 65/10000)
      2. Under 5 service years: monthly pensionable pay x total service years x 975/1000

    The above formula applies only to the service years that start in 2016 or after. The service years before 2016 are applied with other applicable formulas.

  • Q.
    Is it possible for a civil servant to antedate the commencement age for the payment of his/her retirement pension?

    It depends on the retirement age. Generally, you can receive your retirement pension at normal pension age. However, you can claim an early retirement pension one to five years earlier than the normal pension age. In case of early pension, your pension will be reduced based on the following formula.

    1. Not more than one year in shortage: 95% of the amount equivalent to the retirement pension;
    2. Over one year and not more than two years in shortage: 90% of the amount equivalent to the retirement pension;
    3. Over two years and not more than three years in shortage: 85% of the amount equivalent to the retirement pension;
    4. Over three years and not more than four years in shortage: 80% of the amount equivalent to the retirement pension;
    5. Over four years and not more than five years in shortage: 75% of the amount equivalent to the retirement pension.

    If not wishing to receive a reduced retirement pension, the civil servant should wait until reaching the commencement age for pension payment.

  • Q.
    Is a retired civil servant required to claim the payment of a retirement pension?

    Yes. All the retired Government employees must claim the payment of a retirement pension or a retirement lump-sum. To receive a benefit, a civil servant should fill in the application form and submits it to the agency (by post, visit or fax) or upload the application online at the webpage of the agency (www.geps.or.kr). The entitlement to receive a benefit, if not exercised for five years after the date of retirement, shall expire due to extinctive prescription.

  • Q.
    Can a retired civil servant claim a refund of the paid contributions if not meeting the requirements for the receipt of retirement pension?

    As prescribed in the Government Employees Pension Act, the retired civil servants who fail to meet the requirements for the receipt of retirement pension are entitled to receive the retirement benefit calculated based on their tenures of office. The contributions paid during their service years are therefore non-refundable. About the amount of retirement benefit depending on the service years, please refer to the answer to Q5.

  • Q.
    Does a civil servant remain entitled to receive a retirement pension if living in other countries after retirement?

    Yes. The retired civil servants who live overseas remain eligible for their retirement pensions. To receive the pension, the eligible person should submit to the agency a remittance claim attached with a copy of his/her overseas bank account by post or fax.

  • Q.
    What are the eligibilities for the receipt of the survivors’ benefits?

    The Government Employees Pension Act defines a “survivor” as any of the following persons who are supported by a present or former civil servant at the time of his/her death:

    1. A spouse: a person who is in a conjugal relationship during his/her service (including a person who has a de facto conjugal relationship);
    2. A child: offspring born or adopted during his/her service (including an embryo or fetus) who is either under 19 years of age or not less than 19 years of age and in the status of Grade-1 to Grade-7 disabilities;
    3. A parent: excluding a parent in cases of adoption after the retirement date;
    4. A grandchild: a grandchild born or adopted during his/her service;
    5. A grandparent: excluding a grandparent in cases of adoption after the retirement date.

  • Q.
    What are the types of survivors’ benefits and how much is paid for each benefit?

    The survivors’ benefits are largely divided into a survivors’ pension and a survivor lump-sum. The benefits are calculated as follows:

    • Survivors’ pension (from 10 service years): total service years x yearly retirement pension accrual rate x monthly pensionable pay x 60%
    • Survivor Lump-sum(under 10 service years):

    1. From 5 service years to under 10 service years: monthly pensionable pay x total service years x (975/1000 + more than 5 less than 10 years of service x 65/10000)

    2. Under 5 service years: monthly pensionable pay x total service years x 975/1000
    The above formula applies only to the service years that start in 2016 or after. The service years before 2016 are applied with other applicable formulas.

  • Q.
    Is a civil servant injured during his/her service entitled to receive medical expenses?

    Yes. A civil servant who is injured or falls ill with a disease incurred due to his/her service is entitled to receive medical expenses. For the claim options, please consult with the staff in charge of pension-related tasks within the agency concerned.

  • Q.
    Is a civil servant entitled to receive death condolence benefits?

    Yes. An active civil servant is entitled to receive death condolence money when he/she is deceased or when his/her parent (including a parent of his/her spouse), spouse or child is deceased. The claim for death condolence money should be filed within three years from the day on which the grounds for the payment arises.

  • Q.
    Where should a civil servant contact when he/she has inquiries about the Government Employees Pension Scheme?

    For any inquiries related to the Government Employees Pension Scheme, please contact the call center of the pension management agency at 1588-4321.