20 years of service before age 50


Q. I am FERS with 17 years of law enforcement service. I am 44.  In three years, can I go on sabbatical or an unpaid leave of absence until I am 50 and then turn in retirement papers or do I have to stay in a federal job. I understand I do not need to stay in my current federal law enforcement job, or even with this agency, but must I stay in federal service or can I not work at all.

A. You could leave government when you’ve completed 20 years of service and apply for a deferred retirement at your minimum retirement age. If you were born in 1967, your MRA would be 56 and six months. It’s doubtful that your agency would approve your being on unpaid leave for three years just so you could retire at age 50. While you were adding six months of service credit for each calendar year, it would be paying your FEHB and FEGLI premiums during each of those six month periods. Since you wouldn’t giving them anything in return, other than your undying gratitude, it would be a poor investment on their part and frowned on by everyone else.



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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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