In my last column (read it here) I wrote about the age and service requirements for Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) employees to retire. In this one, I’ll focus on Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) employees.

FERS age and service requirements to retire

Immediate retirement

Age 62, with 5 years of service.

Age 60, with 20 years of service.

Minimum retirement age (MRA), with 30 years of service.

MRA, with 10* years of service.

Early retirement

Age 50, with 20 years of service.

Any age, with 25 years of service.

Deferred retirement

Age 62, with 5 years of service.

Age 60, with 20 years of service.

MRA, with 30 years of service.

MRA, with 10* years of service.

* If you retire under the MRA plus 10 provision, your annuity will be reduced by 5 percent for every year (5/12 percent per month) you are under age 62.

Note: FERS special category employees, such as law enforcement officers, firefighters and air traffic controllers, may retire at age 50 with 20 years of covered service or at any age with 25.

Immediate retirement means that you have the age and service needed to retire on an immediate, unreduced annuity. Once you have that combination, you can retire whenever you want to. You can take early retirement, if your agency is offering that opportunity through a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and/or a Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment. It’s also an option — called discontinued service retirement — if you are being separated through a reduction-in-force or for poor performance. A deferred retirement is one where you leave government before being eligible to retire and apply for an annuity when you meet the eligibility requirements.

FERS credit rules

Figuring out your age is simple. Figuring your length of service can be harder, unless your career has been continuous, with no breaks in service or any service credit to be added or deducted. However, for those whose career is made up of bits and pieces, you need to know what kinds of service can be included.

If you are covered by FERS, you’ll get credit for any FERS service for which deductions were taken and not refunded. As for service where you left government and asked for a refund of your contributions, for 20 years FERS employees were barred from recapturing that service if they came back to work for the government. All that changed with Public Law 111-84. Now any FERS employee who retires on or after Oct.28, 2009, can redeposit that money, plus interest, and get full credit for it.

You’ll also get credit for nondeduction service performed before Jan.1, 1989, if you’ve made a deposit for that service. And you’ll get credit for periods of military service performed before Jan.1, 1957. You’ll also get credit for periods of service performed after Dec. 31, 1956, but only if you make a deposit for that post-1956 time. And, if you are receiving military retired pay, you’ll probably have to waive it to get any credit.

Finally, if you transferred to FERS from CSRS and had at least five years of CSRS service, you’ll have a CSRS component in your annuity, unless you got a refund of your retirement contributions. If you did, you can still make a deposit and get credit for that time.

Computing your length of service

Your annuity will be based on your total years and months of creditable service. Any days that don’t add up to a full month will be converted to hours and added to any hours of unused sick leave you have to your credit. If you have enough of those hours, they’ll be converted to months and used in the computation of your annuity.

The method for converting those hours to months needs an explanation. Here’s how it’s done:

In order to produce 12 equal annuity payments, each month is treated as if it was 30 days long. To convert those leftover hours into additional retirement months, the number of hours in a work year — 2,087 — are divided by 360 (12 months x 30 days).

As a result, each additional month is roughly 174 hours long.

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance programs at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to, and view his blog at federal-retirement.


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