Q: I am a federal employee under the Civil Service Retirement System. My wife was a Federal Employees Retirement System employee who left the government after 10 years (1985 to 1995). Is she eligible for a pension, and, if so, at what age? Should I leave her contributions in the retirement system or withdraw them?
A: Because your wife had at least five years of creditable service and left her contributions in the retirement fund, she will be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 62. That annuity will be based on her length of service and her highest three years of average salary on the day she left government. You can estimate what it would be using this formula: 0.01 x high-3 x all years and full months of service. Or you can go to www.fedbens.us and use the handy software there. Whether she should ask for a refund of her contributions or leave them in the fund is a matter for her to decide. One thing to consider is this: If she applies for an annuity at age 62, she will continue to receive it for the rest of her life.