Special category employee retirement and new income


Q. I am 51 and retired with 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In our agency, we could retire at age 50 with 20 years of service or at any age with 25 years of service. Our maximum retirement age is 57. I thought I understood from retirement training that in our special circumstances, earnings rules did not apply until we reached age 57, or when we would have been forced to retire. In other words, after early but full eligibility retirement, we could work and we would not be penalized or limited with new income, in that it would negatively affect our current retirement annuity. That includes a Social Security supplement that law enforcement retirees receive. A retired co-worker/friend says I am wrong about that. He says we actually are limited until age 57, at which time we can earn as much as we are able without it affecting our retirement and Social Security. Please advise. I am being offered a job with which I would really like to be involved, but I am concerned that it will pay me too much if my co-worker is correct.

A. You are right. Your retired co-worker is wrong. The earnings limit doesn’t apply to special category employees, such as law enforcement officers, firefighters and air traffic controllers, or to those who take early voluntary or involuntary retirement before they reach their minimum retirement age. As soon as you reach your MRA, the earnings limit will apply.


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. I’m a federal worker about to retire from my job after 34 years. I’m 59 years old and under CSRS. Is there a limit as to how much I can earn without being penalized if seek employment after retirement?

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