Firefighter retirement


Q. I am a FERS-covered firefighter with a retirement date of Dec. 30.

I have been on the job since Dec. 30, 1984 (at retirement, I will have 29 years and one day) and I am 49. I have easily met the FERS firefighter retirement requirement of 25 years, any age.

I know the mandatory retirement age is 57 (I don’t need to concern myself with that).

I have been informed to be prepared for three to four months (potentially up to six months) before I would receive a “full/normal” retirement check.

I have recently started a small business which will be my self-employment after the fire department retirement.

I have read that I would be exempt from the “earnings test” as it pertains to the special retirement supplement reduction until I reach the minimum retirement age.

1. Is there a minimum retirement age for firefighters? If so, what is that age?

2. Have I already passed that age?

3. Is there a limit on what I can make in my self-employment and still draw the Social Security supplement?

4. Is three to four months (or more) to receive a “full/normal” retirement check a true/realistic time frame?

5. Is it true that “scheduled/mandatory” overtime is to be included along with the high-3 calculations?

A. 1. The MRA for firefighters is the same as it is for all FERS employees. If you were born in 1964, it’s 56.

2. No.

3. Until you reach your MRA, you can earn as much as you want without it affecting your special retirement supplement. After you reach your MRA, your SRS will be reduced or eliminated if you exceed the annual Social Security earnings limit. In 2013, it’s $15.120.

4. Three to four months seems like a reasonable estimate. I don’t know if it’s an accurate one.

5. Premium pay for standby time is included in basic pay. Irregular unscheduled overtime may be. Overtime time isn’t. You need to check with your personnel office to confirm which kinds of pay will be included. They’ll be the ones from which retirement contributions are taken from your 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

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