Q. I want to resign from my civil service position. I believe the work environment is hostile and want to leave before I have even fewer options. I have accumulated 24 years of retirement time and am 18 months short of my minimum retirement age. I have also been reading about the many different ways one can leave (other than retiring), or be forced to leave federal service under Chapter 31, and it is very confusing and intimidating. So I have a couple of questions:

1. Is resignation immediate, meaning, can I walk in, say “I resign” and be gone the same day? (I’ve heard of people doing this. Did they resign or retire?)

2. When (and if) I can do that, what kind of paperwork do I have to fill out? (Alternately, what kind of paperwork should I fill out in before resigning?)

3. How does resignation affect my ability to have any benefits?

a. When I reach my MRA, will my resignation then be seen as a deferred retirement in the eyes of the Office of Personnel Management, or will the resignation have screwed me up?

b. Must I begin receiving my annuity immediately (if I even get one) when I resign, or do I have the option to use RI 92-19 to delay it so I can avoid the 5 percent-per-year penalty for each year below 62?

c. I am in the middle of a divorce. If it is not finalized by the time I resign, can I notify OPM when it is done and they make necessary changes without affecting my annuity when I am eligible to start receiving it?

4. Are there third-party, legitimate sources (besides Federal Times) where I can feel I am getting safe and trustworthy advice on what to look out for and what questions to ask (federal employee unions, etc.) in advance of my resignation?

A. Yes, you can resign at any time. And although you could simply walk out the door without saying a word, it would be a mistake to do so. You need to inform both your supervisor and your personnel office so that: 1) your resignation can be made official, and 2) the standard checklist required of every departing employee can be completed. Included on that checklist would be your agency’s requirement to inform you of your future rights.

If you are enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits and/or Federal Employees Group Life Insurance programs, your coverage would continue for 31 days at no cost to you. You would then have the option of continuing your FEHB coverage for up to 18 months under the temporary continuation of coverage provision, for which you would pay the entire premium plus 2 percent, or elect to be covered under a private life insurance policy at your own expense.

Since you haven’t reached your MRA, you aren’t eligible for an immediate annuity. However, because you have at least 20 years of service, you could apply for a deferred annuity at age 60.

We aren’t qualified to answer any questions about divorce. However, if the court order ending your marriage results in your former spouse having any entitlement to a portion of the benefits you earned while an employee, he or she would have to notify OPM of that fact.

If you are an employee who is covered by collective bargaining agreement, you can ask your union representative to assist you. You can also consult a private attorney if you think that is necessary.


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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

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