Q. I am 55 with 36 years of federal employment, including two one-year breaks in service. The last break was in 1985. I withdrew the funds I had paid into CSRS each time I broke service and have repaid a minimal amount of it. I thought I would be one of those people who worked forever; however, I have a progressively degenerative medical condition and likely will not be able to work more than another year at the most. I am totally ignorant about retirement and to what benefits I am entitled. For example, will my pension benefits be reduced because I am retiring early? Do I continue to pay the same health insurance rates once I retire until I become eligible for Medicare? Will my health benefits remain the same until I become eligible for Medicare? I used the pension calculator and am more confused. For example, I calculated using the percentage for the first five years and the different percentage for the next five years, and then the 2 percent for the remaining years past 10. Is this the amount plus interest, plus matching funds what I pay into CSRS from my paycheck, or do I have to do yet other calculations? I have requested a meeting with my HR department, but it has to wait until it receives information for payroll and tells me it will be weeks before I can get a meeting. My neurosurgeon and neurologist are telling me I should consider retiring immediately, but I need to make this major decision as knowledgeably as possible.
A. Because you already meet the minimum requirements to retire — age 55 with 30 years of service — you can retire at any time on an immediate unreduced annuity.
Unless you are a Postal Service employee, your health benefits premiums will be the same as a retiree that they were when you were employed. When Postal Service employees retire, their premiums go up to the same level as all other employees and retirees. That’s because they lose the lower premium benefits they gained as a result of union negotiations.
Your FEHB premiums won’t be changed when you become eligible for Medicare Part A. However, when you retire, Medicare will become the primary payer and your FEHB plan the secondary payer.
Your annuity is computed according to the formula you mentioned, which is based on your highest three consecutive years of average pay and your years and full months of creditable service. Matching funds and interest play no part in that calculation.