Early retirement and Social Security


Q: I will be 55 in September and I’m trying to retire when I’m
56. I have worked for the federal government for 26 years
and I am under FERS retirement. My agency is offering the
voluntary retirement until September and it has been offering this for the past five years. I hope this early voluntary retirement will be offered next year when I reach 56. It is my
understanding that if my agency is offering the voluntary retirement, I don’t have to reduce my FERS retirement at the 5 percent rate for each year. Is this correct? My other  question is how much will I get in supplemental Social Security income per month or per year when I retire at 56? My high-3 years of salary average $130,000.

A: If offered an opportunity to retire early, you are already eligible to receive an annuity without an age penalty. Anyone can do that if they are age 50 with 20 years of service or any age with 25. When you reach your minimum retirement age (56), you would be eligible for the special retirement supplement. To estimate it, use this formula: Your Social Security benefit times your years of service rounded up to the next higher year divided by 40.


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  1. I am in a similar situation, I have 24 years with USDA, will be 56 in Nov 2011. I am pretty sure that another VERA will be offered. I am due a within grade in January 2012 and will have 25 years in June 2012. When I do the calculations there is about a $250.00 a month increase if I wait until June. For me, I don’t see an advantage to taking the VERA.

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