Q. How can an employee retire from the government with only 11.5 years of service?

A. There are two ways. First, anyone with at least 5 years of service can retire at age 62. Second, anyone with at least 10 years of service can retire at the minimum retirement age. (MRA’s range from 55 to 57, depending on the year of birth.) However, the annuity would be reduced by 5 percent (5/12 of 1 percent per month) that the retiree was under age 62.


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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


  1. I have a complicated question. I have a progressive disease and am slowly reaching the end of my ability to do my job due to decreased mobility and fatigue. As of July 2018, I have worked for the federal government for 18 years. I will reach my MRA in February of 2019. If I were to apply for a disability retirement, are the benefits better if I do so before or after reaching my MRA + 10. Also, if I were granted a disability retirement under age 60, would I be penalized 5% for every year under age 62?

    • Whether you’ve reached MRA+10 or not is irrelevant. Disability benefits are calculated in the same way for anyone who has at least 18 months of service and qualifies for that benefit. Assuming that you continue to qualify for that benefit, at age 62 your disability benefit would be converted to a regular retirement. That benefit would be calculated as if you had worked top age 62.

      • Thank you for your response. So it’s 60%/40% til 62. I was confused because the OPM website says that if you are “Under age 62 qualified for an immediate voluntary retirement” then you get “1 percent of your high-3 average salary for each year of service.”

        If “qualified for an immediate voluntary retirement” means MRA + 10, then I will qualify in February and would get a lot less than the 60%/40% calculation under that formula.

        Thank you, in advance, for clarifying this.

        • That is an option. However, if you wait until age 62, your annuity would be calculated using the .011 multiplier rather than .01. One additional point. When your non-disability retirement is calculated, the amount of benefit you were entitled to on the day you went on disability will be increased by any COLAs payable from that time to age 62.

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