Voluntary vs. mandatory retirement


Q. I am eligible for retirement March 21 as a law enforcement officer under FERS. I will have 20 years of law enforcement experience and am age 56. Because I turn 57 in October (seven months later), I will be forced to retire Oct. 31.

Aside from the extra approximately $8.56 per month I will get in my annuity for each month I stay after March and the benefit of having a full salaried job for seven more months, is there any advantage to me retiring under mandatory retirement age versus voluntary?

The combination of my projected annuity and special retirement supplement provides me with a net of approximately $500 per month less than what I currently take home.

My intention is to get a part-time job to bridge the $500 gap not to exceed the maximum allowed wage of $14,640 so as not to affect my Social Security.

Also, I heard from a retirement counselor who said if you wait until you are forced out, you might qualify for unemployment benefits depending on your state.

A. While the final decision is up to your state, it’s unlikely that you’d be eligible for unemployment benefits.


About Author

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


  1. As a Federal Law Enforcement employee I know first hand of numerous people who went until mandatory and are or were collecting unemployment upon departing.

    • Whether or not they are eligible for unemployment compensation is a matter of state – not federal – law. Some provide it, most do not.

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