Break in service and vested time

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Q. I am a 29-year-old federal employee and I may have to move at some point in next few years because of my husband’s work or if I go back to school. I have been working for 2½ years; if I leave, I am hoping to return to a job in the federal government at some point). I am wondering how vesting works for my FERS annuity. Will I have to work a consecutive five years to keep both before I can leave, or do I bank that time if I decide to come back? For example, if I work for 3½ years then leave and come back two years later and work for 30+ years, will I keep what was put into my annuity during my first 3½ years when I come back?

A. You have to have five years of service to be vested in the retirement system. Those years don’t have to be consecutive. For example, if you left after 3½ years, came back after a two-year break, and worked for 1½ more years, you’d be vested. If you took a refund of your retirement deductions when you left, you’d have to redeposit that amount, plus accrued interest.

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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.

4 Comments

  1. I have worked for the veterans affairs for 3.5 years. Thinking of taking a job in the community but working at the va part time 16 hrs per week. Can you acquire a vested status while working part time for the next 1.5 years?

  2. Hello!

    I am working at the VA as an intermittent employee. I currently do not receive benefits. Will I still be considered “vested” if I work for 3+ years, or does that only count if I am fulltime?

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