Forced retirement?


Q. I am 62 years old with more than 10 years of service. I am on a Schedule A excepted service term appointment that is soon to expire. I came to this appointment from a competitive service, permanent position at the request of my agency, but the funds for the program are now, unexpectedly, about to run out.

I am told that I am not eligible for severance pay because I am eligible for an immediate FERS annuity (age 62 and five years of service), but I do not wish to voluntarily retire. Can my department make me retire without offering me another job first? If so, what’s that called and why? If I refuse to voluntarily retire, to preserve any right to complain, will I lose any FERS medical survivors benefits?

A. No, your agency can’t make you retire. However, they can separate you when they no longer have the money to support your position. Further, as a term employee, there is no requirement that you be offered another job. Because you are eligible to retire, you aren’t entitled to severance pay.


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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


  1. We have a 62 year old Caucasian female that has been with us for 10 plus years. She is not performing well and we are a non profit that supports mentally, physically and intellectually disabled adults. We are willing to offer her a severance package, what is her time limit to respond – we are in Delaware. Thank you

  2. I am a 36 year career conditional government employee and I am thinking about taking a term position of a higher grade. I’m wondering should I take the term position? i sm also paying into the FERS retirement system.

    • You need to find out what will happen when that term position expires. Will you be guaranteed a return to your current position or one at the same grade and pay?

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