What is Your High 36?

Mar 18, 2022, 09:44 AM

We know retirement terms can seem complicated, but we are here to help! Have you ever heard the term “high 36”?

High 36 refers to a member’s highest 36 consecutive months of pay. It is also known as Final Average Pay (FAP).

When you retire, you will get a monthly pension benefit for life. Your base benefit is calculated using a formula, as defined by law, that takes into account the following factors:

  • Final Average Pay (FAP) – The average of your highest 36 consecutive months of pay
  • Multiplier – The multiplier established by the legislature
  • Credited Service – Your years and months of credited service - earned, purchased, or transferred, and unused sick leave (if applicable)
The Calculation

When calculating your benefit, we will use your highest 36 full consecutive months of pay – wherever that occurs in your individual pay history. Practically speaking, most people earn their highest 36 consecutive months of pay in their last three years of state employment, but not always. In our calculation of final average pay, we credit you based on when the payroll was earned, rather than the month it was actually paid.


Please note that if you become eligible for and elect BackDROP upon retirement, your FAP will be calculated using your MOSERS-covered work history prior to your BackDROP date. In other words, pay (and service) during the BackDROP period is excluded when calculating your monthly benefit amount.

If at retirement, you do not elect BackDROP, we will review your entire pay history and find the 36-month period with your highest pay (regardless of whether that is before or after you might hit normal retirement eligibility) and will use that in calculating your monthly benefit. You may elect not to take BackDROP if you want all of your pay and service to count. In most cases, opting not to take BackDROP will increase your monthly benefit amount

*BackDROP is available only to general state employees who are members of MSEP or MSEP 2000.

For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us or schedule an appointment with a benefit counselor today! 

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