Q. I plan on leaving federal service with the VA after 15 years of employment, having worked various jobs at GS-7 and GS-5 levels. I will be 48 years old upon my voluntary leave. Can I collect my VA pension immediately or do I have to wait till I reach a certain age to collect a monthly pension? And if I can collect my VA pension now, can I continue to pay for health insurance via monthly deduction from the pension amount?
A. No, you haven’t met the age and service requirements to retire. If you leave and don’t ask for a refund of your retirement contributions, you could apply for a deferred retirement at age 62. When you leave, you’d be entitled to a 31-day premium-free extension of your FEHB coverage, after which you’d have the option of continuing that coverage for up to 18 months by paying 100 percent of the premiums, plus 2 percent for administrative expenses.