Eligibility for an annuity


Q. I resigned from the government in March 2010, following 25 years of service, at the age of 48. I took out my TSP. Am I eligible for a government retirement? if so, at what age?

A. If you didn’t ask for a refund of your retirement contributions, you’d be eligible for an annuity when you reach your minimum retirement age, which is 56. However, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were under age 60. You could reduce that penalty by postponing the receipt of your annuity to a later date or eliminate it by waiting until age 60.


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. Elaine Lumsden on

    One sentence in the response is not correct. It should read your annuity is reduced by 5% for every year you are under age 62 (not 60) unless you postpone it to age 60. There would be no age penalty if postponed until age 60 as age 60 with 20 or more years of service is a regular retirement option.

        • Nope. 5USC8415(h)(1) & (2)(B) applies on deferred. This refers you back to 5USC8412(g) and (h) for MRA, 8415 1&2 B is no reduction if at MRA. Mr. Jones is still correct.

          • Elaine Lumsden on

            Final comment: please see Chapter 45 CSRS FERS Handbook and the almost exact example as the original question is shown on page 13. “A deferred annuity is reduced by five-twelfths of 1 percent for each full month by which the commencing date of annuity precedes the 62nd birthday of the employee. The reduction is 5 percent for each full year the employee is under age 62.

            Exceptions: The annuity is not reduced if the employee:
            • Completed at least 30 years of service. (The unreduced annuity can begin as early as the first of the month following the employee’s attainment of the MRA); or
            • Completed at least 20 years of service and postponed the annuity commencing date until age 60; or
            * Completed at least 10 years of service and postponed the annuity commencing date until age 62.

            EXAMPLE: Judith is a FERS employee who separates from service in the year 2000. At time of separation, Judith is age 41 and has 20 years of creditable service. Her high-3 average salary at separation is $35,000. If she postpones the commencing date of her deferred annuity until she reaches age 60, the annuity will not be reduced for age.”

            The goal of this forum is the get employees the correct answers, period.

          • Final Comment: Chapter 45 of the Employees Handbook is not what is used to compute retirements. The US CODE is the law and FINAL say and not a handbook. The handbook cannot cover every exception or unique situation.

          • Doug
            I have reviewed us code title 5 8415,8412 and basically the entire chapter, I still don’t see the under 60 vers 62 age age reduction statue. I can find it you postpone the receipt of you annuity till age 60 with 20 years you can eliminate the reduction, I really want you and Reg to be correct but I don’t see it in the code, please paste the scripture online. I know a lot of people that would like a definite answer on this rule/law. Thanks

          • I appreciate all of the expertise on display here. I too was under the same impression shared by Elaine L. I have never waded in to the types of documents that Doug references. Until now! 8412(g) and (h) appear to refer to individuals who leave service AFTER attaining their minimum retirement age (p. 889 of the following:
            The original question came from someone who left at age 48. 8415(h)(1) (page 892) appears to refer to a retiring employee. 8415 2B appears to refer to – I don’t know. I can’t find it. Perhaps Elaine can find the part of the code to support her (and my) belief. It appears that 8413(a) (page 889) is the correct section – it is on deferred retirement. But it does not state anything regarding when one can collect the benefit if the person has accumulated 20 years of service. instance. Again, I appreciate the depth of knowledge that people harbor on retirement issues!

          • Not sure who you are, Doug, but Elaine is correct here. I agree with you that U.S. Code trumps an OPM handbook, but that’s not what the Code says about the reduction. I am in the business of advising federal employees, and in fact, I just finished a divorce where the federal employee applied for a deferred annuity at age 58. As part of the divorce, he agreed to apply for benefits before age 62 so that the former spouse could begin receiving benefits under the order. The employee had 25 years of creditable service when he separated at age 51. OPM reduced his deferred annuity by 20%, representing 4 years of penalty, not by 10%, representing two years of penalty.
            The confusion may stem from the fact that if this person just waited until they were age 60, there would be no penalty.
            I’m not going to post and re-post here. Trust me, the U.S. Code, Elaine and the OPM Handbook all say the same thing. The penalty is always calculated from age 62. I’m not speculating here. My clients share with me their annuity statements and OPM correspondence.
            If you apply for a deferred annuity before age 60 and have 20 or more years, I can assure you that OPM will reduce from age 62.
            To the original poster – Why don’t you go ahead and apply for your deferred retirement now, and after your claim has been adjudicated by OPM, and you have your blue book, come back here to this forum and post your results.

          • Spot on. Thanks for taking the time to explain things to Doug and anyone else who is uncertain about this.

  2. I have 8 yrs.Military 20 yrs. Post office Resigned. And now work for the U.S. Mint for 2 yes. My question is can I take a pention from the Post office and then another from the U.S Mint I’ll stay till I am 62.that will give me 12yrs at the mint. Yes I bought back my military time.I am age 52 now.

    • No. Since positions in the Postal Service and are both government jobs, you wouldn’t eligible for an annuity until you retire from your position at the Mint. That annuity would cover all your federal service.

  3. Correction I have 10 yrrs military 20 yrs post office 2 yrs. US Mint. I am 52 plan on retiring at 56. My high 3 year is 52,000 .will I still be penalized for being under 62. Born 1966.

  4. Elaine Lumsden on

    Dave, wading through the US Code and CFR aren’t fun but here goes. In 5 USC 8413 (b) It defines deferred retirement and states if you had 10 or more years of creditable service, 5 of which must be civilian, you can take a retirement as early as your MRA but no later than age 62. Then you go to 5 USC 8415 on computing annuities and in (h) (1) it says it will be reduced by 5/12 of one percent for each month the annuity commences before their 62nd birthday. Then in 5 USC 8415 (h) (2) (a) it says there will be no penalty if they meet the requirement for voluntary immediate retirement, which is MRA+30 or 60 with 20. Then keep reading section (b) and it states: B) A determination under subparagraph (A) shall be based on how old the employee or Member will be as of the date on which the annuity under section 8412(g) or 8413(b) is to commence.

    And if you read the instructions on the Application for the Deferred or Postponed Retirement: https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/ri92-19.pdf under Schedule B instructions it states: Your annuity will be reduced 5/12ths of 1% for each full month (5% per year) that the date your annuity begins precedes your 62nd birthday. You can avoid the age reduction entirely if you choose the first day of the month you reach age 62 as your annuity commencing date. The age reduction does not apply if your annuity commences the first day of the month after your 60th birthday and you have at least 20 years of service.

    I hope that is clear enough.

    • Nice! The code info is brutal, but when the instructions for the actual application for deferred retirement state what you originally provide, it pretty much closes the case. Further, at the bottom of page 7 of the pdf link that Re’ sent to find info on retirement, in regards to an MRA +10 retirement, it supports the position you originally provided. I have always believed that, and again, when something shows up in Reg’s column that runs counter to one of my long held beliefs, I get a bit nervous.

      • Elaine Lumsden on

        Exactly, like I said in an earlier post, it is all about getting people the correct information….the first time.

        • Elaine, so can you explain how this answer is correct? I believe it to be wrong and should be 1% for all time based laws we had discussed. Thanks.

          Q. What would my retirement benefit percentage be if I retire at 20 years as a law enforcement officer but I am only 43? Four years of military bought back. Started in the Federal Bureau of Prisons at age 22 in 1993. Will have 20 years on Sept. 19 and will turn 43 a few days later. Served in the Army from age 18 to 22, 1989-1993. Can I do this? Presumably with a decreased benefit.

          A. You couldn’t retire because you don’t have the combination of age and service needed to do that. What you could do is resign after you have 20 years of covered service and apply for a deferred annuity at age 56. Those 20 years would be computed using the enhanced formula: .017 x your high-3 when you left x 20 years. The remaining years would be computed using the standard formula: .01 x your high-3 x all years over 20.

          • Not sure where that Q and A came from (this forum???) but it is clearly wrong. The ONLY way to get 1.7% for 20 LEO years is to retire on an immediate annuity (Elaine stated this earlier). With 20 LEO years, this person gets all years as 1% years at age 56 or 57 (MRA) rather than at age 60 or 62. That’s the only benefit conveyed by the 20 LEO years – you get them sooner, at MRA, with no 5% per year penalty, but always at 1%.

          • Yes Dan to answer your reply below, from this forum. Thanks for clarifying. These are the things that cause confusion.


          • Elaine Lumsden on

            Doug, you are correct this person would only get the 1% not the 1.7% because it will be a deferred annuity.

  5. OK. OK. I am sorry Elaine and anyone else. I see what you are saying now. Need a darn flow chart for these codes.
    Ok, so can I ask another question along these same lines. LEO covered position, completed 20 years 5 mos, resigned at age 45. MRA is age 56. So, 5 USC 8415 (h) (2)(A) makes reference to 8412(d)(2) . So, I am understanding that at 56 you can apply for deferred retirement 8413(b) since you now meet the requirements of 8412(d)(2) based on the commencing date age. Therefore enhanced retirement rules of 1.7 would apply with no reduction at 56. OR is this the same situation that you have to wait til 60? for no reduction. However, BAL 10-105 may come into play here as well I believe.

    • Elaine Lumsden on

      Boy howdy! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could find all the answers in one place. With respect to your next question, there is good and bad news. A LEO resigning with 20 or more years of service can collect an unreduced retirement at their MRA however in order to have that retirement calculated with the enhanced formula, LEOs need to retire on an immediate annuity. So in your example, this individual would get an annuity with the 1% factor. Now, here is a thought, get a government job…any job and if over the age of 50, you can file for retirement as a LEO (because the required 20 LEO years are in place) and you can collect a pension before the MRA using the enhanced 1.7% formula.

      • I sorta said the same thing get rehired digging ditches, only one day is needed correct? then retire under the enhanced formula. However, with all the previous court rulings on enhanced, wasn’t the decision made that once the time was met you could draw once you met the age. Similar to the BAL 10-105 decision, didn’t that get applied to all LEO/FF. If, you don’t agree with me on that, then You are agreeing that now at age 56, I could apply for deferred with a commencing date which would be the month after age 50, 6 years ago.

        • Elaine Lumsden on

          The BAL you reference is for special
          provision employees who file for disability or die in service without meeting the 20 years of special provision service. To collect a LEO retirement you must retire on an immediate annuity. If you are applying for a deferred you can collect at your MRA with no age penalty however it will not be with the enhanced formula.

    • I reread Dan and Elaine replies above and so Elaine was correct in her original reply and Reg should have stated 62 in his original reply. So then the same may hold true in the example above, need to wait til 60 in order to not receive the reduction instead of 56 even for LEO good time. I am actually starting to think that you may be able to start at 50 with no reduction since age or 8412(d)(2) is met at commencing date of 50th birthday. This would be the same as age 60 and 20, which is 8412(b). What am I not seeing then?

      • Elaine Lumsden on

        Doug this is another case where your answers are in different places. Sorry about repeating myself but to collect LEO retirement you must retire on immediate annuity. Under deferred it says: Law enforcement officers, firefighters, air traffic controllers, and Members of Congress who separate from service subject to FERS for reasons other than misconduct with 20 years of service as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, air traffic controller, or Member may receive a deferred annuity at the MRA with no reduction for age. See Chapter 46, Special Retirement Provisions for Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters, and Air Traffic Controllers, for further details. So since the deferred annuity is not an immediate annuity, you cannot use the enhanced formula nor can you collect at age 50 or wait until you are age 62.

        • I agree, I saw that in chapter 46. However, chapter 46 is a guide. I have found no mention to that in Title 5 anywhere. Unless there is a court case somewhere that ruled in intent. So back up to you’re reply to Dave and wading thru the code. I understand your response and I think concur. But, to continue with the other examples. 5 USC 8415 (h) (2) in part says: if the employee or Member would satisfy the age and service requirements for title to an annuity under section 8412 (a), (b), (d)(2), (e)(2), or (f)(2), determined as if the employee or Member had, as of the date of separation, attained the age specified in subparagraph (B). So, using your rationale above. No reduction and annuity would start at MRA+30, 60+20, LEO 50+20, ATC 50+20, Congress 50+20. Just like the above what is MRA for LEO/atc/FF is it 50/20, or normal employee MRA. I would say 50+20 and say no reduction under at 50+20. I agree on the enhanced formula not being used, that is pretty much explain in the code. However, what is special retirement MRA? See my point/issue?

          • Elaine Lumsden on

            Doug, the issue is you are interpreting the calculations for an immediate annuity instead of the one for the deferred. Yes, if you leave at age 50 with 20 years special provision service or any age with 25 special provision years, you will collect an immediate annuity with the enhanced computation as long as it commences within a month of leaving. Since you resigned at 45 you must apply the USC for the deferred annuity which states it cannot be collected until you reach your MRA. And I realize you are not fond of the CSRS FERS Handbook, but it is an easier to read version of the USC issued by the Office of Personnel Management. I cannot quickly find the USC on the “it will not be reduced at MRA” but it is there….

  6. Thanks Elaine, I always knew from the start you had more knowledge than I, I do understand the Handbook is easier, but the one I found is 1998 version and sometimes behind on updates as it the code from GPO. I had been using cornell law code which seems to be more up to date. I do understand what you are saying and appreciate the discussion. I also see the understand the two different sections one is computation and the other for eligibility, that’s what screwed me up before mixing the two. Darn code. I just argue that MRA for special groups is 50, but I see that’s for computation mainly and MRA for retirement in this case would be 56 under the other section for eligibilty. Good discussions. The only reason I continued a little longer is, This situation is becoming more popular with the younger generation. Get your 20 good time then leave federal service to do something else and most HR people don’t know anything about these unique situations. Matter of fact, I have received bad info from OPM boyers via email and phone, because they are trying to just read the website info which most of us already know what’s on there. So, I have concluded that if you put a cover letter with your application stating what you think and expect and have the adjudicator call you if it is something different is probably one of the ways to go. I am actually a retired ATC 50+20 with 32 total time. But, became the office retirement lawyer. I appreciate all the expert comments. It will help someone in the future. Have a good week and year.

  7. The no reduction you mentioned above is part of 5usc8415(h) making reference to the age and service at time of commencement which is meeting the requirements of 8412(d)(2). I was more interested in the MRA being 50 instead of 56 for LEO/FF/ATC. But you answered that also and I guess there really isn’t. 50 for immediate and 56 for deferred and no melting of the two. Makes Sense. Once again Thanks and keep up the GREAT work. It helps.

  8. In summary of this fairly long string, I wanted to confirm the one initial point of discussion. My understanding all along has been age reductions, when applied, are always taken from age 62. I turn 59 in MAY 2018. I have 24 years of credible Federal service. Part of that is military buyback of approx. 12 years. I also will start collecting my Navy reserve retirement in MAY 2019.

    If I were to decide to retire end of MAY 2018, my age reduction would be approx. 15% (from age 62), not 5% (from age 60), correct?
    PS: My plan is to retire at age 60 (MAY 2019) so I get the full FERS and the SPS, but if it were only a 5% deduction to retire this coming May…….I might be inclined to reconsider even if it means I forgo the SPS..

    • No, that is not correct. Age reductions are NOT always taken from age 62. For example, there is no age reduction if you retire at age 60 with 20 years of service. Since you plan to retire at age 60 and already have more than 20 years of service, you’d receive an unreduced annuity and be entitled to the special retirement supplement.

        • Now I am more confused than before. Deferred annuity is if I were to retire at age 59 and defer retirement pay until age 60 or 62. I fully understand the SPS is only payable when you do a full FERS unreduced retirement prior to age 62; MRA and 30 years or age 60 with at least 20 years). If I retire at age 60, MAY 2019, and I have over 20 years of credible service, that isn’t a deferred annuity.

          The only reason I mentioned that “I might reconsider retiring at age 59” was if the % reduction was from age 60 and not age 62. I don’t think that it works that way which is why my actual plan has been and continues to be to retire at age 60 with an unreduced full FERS retirement annuity which should include the SPS.

      • That was why I stated it as “age reductions, when applied, are always taken from age 62”. I do understand that age reduction would not be applied for someone who retires between age 60 to 62 with over 20 years of credible service. It also would not be applied for someone who retires prior to age 62 if they meet the MRA with 30 years criteria. Both of those would be an unreduced FERS retirement. VERA is the only other time when a person can retire prior to age 62 with a full unreduced FERS annuity as long as they meet the VERA requirements.

        I just wanted to confirm that age reduction is never taken from age 60. Thanks. I have found these post and the info contained in them to be very informative.

    • Elaine Lumsden on

      If you take your deferred retirement at age 59, this May, it will be reduced 15%. If however you take your retirement at age 60, May 2019, you would collect your FERS with no age penalty however since you are retiring on a deferred retirement, you are not eligible for the FERS Retiree Supplement. The retirement option is what determines FERS supplement eligibility. The reason it will not be age penalized at age 60 is because you have 20 or more years of creditable service.

      • Elaine, I guess my confusion is why you are stating that I would be doing a “deferred retirement”. I am currently working and plan to continue working in my civil service position until my retirement date which will be 31MAY 2019. I will be 60 years old and by then will have approx 25 years of credible service.

        • Jim, I think Elaine misread and thought you were not still working. I’m sure she’ll pipe up. I am pretty sure you are correct. 60 no reduction and Sup til 62. I believe you are correct on the rest about going at 59. Reg answer above is correct in your case.

          • Since he is still working, isn’t he entitled to MRA 5USC8412g and no reduction, that’s immediate retirement.

          • Doug, I was thinking the same, that maybe Elaine may have thought I was no longer working and was doing an MRA+10 with deferral to age 59 or 60. Thanks!

          • Yes, I am sure she was. Also, disregard my previous comment on 8412(g) cause that is considered deferred and reduction would apply from 62 to 59. Which is what Elaine stated earlier. However, I agree I don’t think she realized you are still working and will agree. 60 and 20 your good for immediate under 8412(b) with no reduction. She should agree as soon as she sees this. I hope.

        • Elaine Lumsden on

          My apology Jim…when you stated ‘the original point of the discussion’ I did think we were talking about someone who left. You are correct, and thanks Doug for catching it, if you are still working until age 60 with 20 or more years of service, you retire with an unreduced annuity and with the supplement payable until age 62.

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