Retirement and health benefits


Q. I started with the U.S. Postal Service in May 1994 as an rural carrier associate. I became a regular employee in 2001. If I quit my job, would I lose my health benefits? What about any of my other benefits?

A. If you quit your job before being eligible for an immediate annuity, your health and life insurance coverage would continue for 31 days at no expense to you. You would be able to continue your health benefits at your own expense under the temporary continuation of coverage provision. You would have the option of converting your life insurance coverage to a private policy, also at your own expense. If you have fewer than 20 years of creditable service, you’d be able to apply for a deferred annuity at age 62. If you had at least 20 years of service you could apply at age 60. In neither case would you be eligible to enroll in the health benefits or life insurance programs. Note: Because you have at least 10 years of covered service, you could apply for a deferred annuity under the MRA+10 provision; however, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were younger than age 62.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


  1. I have been receiving a FERS disability annuity retirement since 2008, but in May 2017 turned age 62. The Age 62 Annuity that I received from OPM was less than I thought it should be. I asked OPM to show me their calculations. It took two years to get them to give me their calculations of my Age 62 annuity payment.
    I noticed that they did not apply one COLA to my high three salary, and asked why they did not use that one COLA. OPM said that the law doesn’t allow disability retirement annuitants to receive COLA’s until they have been retired for more than one year, so my first COLA did not get included in my high three salary adjustment. The OPM website, and their Disability handbook states that all COLA’s will be used to recompute the Annuity at age 62. Any ideas why they would have denied my COLA adjustment?

    • No,I don’t have any idea. I suggest you ask OPM to show you in writing why that first year wasn’t included.

  2. I worked as csrs employee for 15 years. During those years I did not participate in the medical insurance benefits. I left the federal service, and worked 15 years. I then returned to federal service, and immediately signed up for medical benefits. Questions: (1) How would I calculate my retirement pension?
    (2) is my understanding correct that I need to have participated in the medical benefits for 5 years in order to keep the benefits into retirement?
    (3) where might I find an expert to consult regarding retirement benefits when an individual has had many breaks in service?

    • 1) Your retirement annuity would be based on the CSRS formula:
      .015 X your high-3 X 5 years of service, plus
      .0175 X your high-3 X 5 years of service, plus
      .02 X your high-3 X all remaining years of service
      Your high-3 would be determined by adding the basic pay you received during the 78 consecutive months of service preceding your retirement.

      2) Yes, you would need to have been enrolled in the FEHB program for the 5 consecutive years preceding your retirement.

      3) Your best bet would be to contact NARFE (the National Association of Active and Retired Employees). There may be a chapter in you area. If so, they may be able to put you in touch with someone who can help you.

  3. Reg Thanks for a the good info you put out. I was once on a website which showed me what I would get at various ages during my retirement. What federal employee website would that be?

  4. OWCP says there of $4000.00 because at age 62 SSA said I qualified for retirement.SSA aid any recipients who at 62 applies for retirement the worker’s compensation offset doesn’t apply also OPM states That I am inactive with OPMAnd FERS I only worked1yr 8 months due to broken neck OPM says that you must have 5 yrs work what’s up who is right

      • Denise Costello-Kazik on

        I am eligible for my Retired reserve pay in a few months when I turn age 60. I was given a Honorable medical retirerement with 22 years. I work for the VA and have Blue Cross Blue Shield medical insurance. Am I eligible for Tricare Select at age 60? If so, can I disenroll from my BCBS? Since I received a medical retirement are enrollment fee’s waived?

        • Because we are only able to answer questions about federal civilian employee and retiree benefits, we don’t know if you are eligible for Tricare Select. To find out, go to and click on Plans & Eligibility. If you are eligible and elect that coverage, don’t cancel your FEHB coverage, just suspend it. That way you can rejoin the FEHB if you are dissatisfied with Tricare.

  5. I am a Border Patrol Agent working in the Los Angeles locality region. I have been working there for 15 years. I currently will qualify for the special law enforcement category in FERS which includes my base pay plus 25% included in the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act (similar to LEAP) if I remain with the Border Patrol. My question is that I am considering a career change to another federal law enforcement career in a Rest of US locality area. The pay would be significantly less as I am considering Federal Corrections or Federal Probation. Would my high 3 be locked in with my Border Patrol pay (including the 25%) as well as the Los Angeles Locality pay or would I lose these if I relocated and took the job which doesn’t have the 25% in my last 6 or 7 years. Basically, I’m happy with my current high 3 and I don’t want it to go down if I take this job in the Midwest.

    • Your high-3 will be based on your highest three consecutive years (78 bi-weekly pay periods) of Basic pay, regardless of when they occur in your career. Basic pay is the amount in your pay check from which retirement deductions are taken.

  6. Question. I’m 49 years old on FERS system. I have 30 years. Can I retired at 50 years old with 30 years. Someone told you can with that requirement. Is there no penalty involved.

    • You can’t retire with that combination of age and service unless your agency is undergoing a reduction-in-force, reorganization, restructuring or a major transfer of function and your position is identified as one that would be affected.

  7. I was temporarily promoted to GS-08 Supervisory position from a GS-7 for 120 days. However, I was moved to the position unofficially almost 2 months prior to my EOD. Since that time my work environment has become extremely hostile, employees basically tell me what they will and will not do, and have little to no support from upper Management. My assignment is scheduled to end 18MAR21. My previous position is vacant, can I request to return to my position prior to scheduled end date?

  8. If i retire at my MRA which is 56yrs 2 months and have 26 yrs of service with USPS can i retire and get the reduced annuity(MRA+10 provision)for being under 62 yrs old but still have FEHB coverage and start the annuity immediately? Want to make sure i have health coverage.

    • Yes, you can retire at that age with 26 years of service, receive an immediate annuity, and continue your FEHB coverage (assuming that you have been covered by the program for the 5 consecutive years before you retire). However, because you will be retiring under the MRA+10 provision, your annuity will be reduced by 5 percent for every year (5/12ths of 1 percent per month) that you are under age 62.

  9. HI, I am a Podiatrist. About 1- 2 years ago laws changed and now classify Podiatrists as Physicians. Our pay table went from the regular GS schedule to the Physician, Dentist, and Podiatrist Annual Pay tables in 2020. My question is in retirement is our Annuity based on the entire pay (base and special pay) or just the base pay?
    Thank you.

  10. I have 15 years of federal service time as of 02/22/2021. My MRA is 56 years old. Currently, In the last year I have received my military buy back documents that are payed in full. My question is can I retire now or would I have to wait until I am 60 years old.

  11. Luis Manuel Rodriguez on

    I am Dual status technician with 17 years of military service, and I have been working as a federal technician since 2014 ,and I also bought my Active duty time back totaling 3 years of active duty to add to my retirement. Due to health I may possibly be medically retired from the guard. my question is would that means that I will medically retired from the federal system? And if that’s the case, will i collect an annuity right after retirement , I’ll be 43 years of Age by the time all this happens.

    • Since you have at least 5 years of civilian service, you may retire under the CSRS or FERS disability provisions because you will be separated from employment as a National Guard technician due to a disability that disqualifies you from membership in the National Guard or from holding the military grade required for such employment. This is true even if you are not considered to be disabled under regular CSRS or FERS requirements.

  12. My husband has 38 years of service as a law enforcement service with dod. The fire fighters on this post get the special pay/ special retirement. Law enforcement does not. Can my husband apply for law enforcement special pay now? And if so, where can he do that? Thank you

    • A law enforcement office is defined as an employee occupying a rigorous position, whose primary duties are the investigation. apprehension, or detention of individuals suspected or convicted of offenses against the criminal laws of the United States, or the protection against threats to personnel safety. The occupational series for most LEOs is 1811. If your husband was a law enforcement officer, he would be covered by the same retirement rules as a firefighter: 20 years of service at age 50. If he isn’t, then he wouldn’t be entitled to that early retirement benefit. As for special pay, there is more than one kind. And each of them is only given to a qualifying group of employees if convincing evidence is provided to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management or, in certain cases, the Department of Defense.

    • You don’t need to do anything. Your FEHB enrollment was automatically transferred from your agency to OPM’s retirement roll.

  13. Michael Tiongco on

    Hi Reg,

    My father passed away. My father retired under CSRS in 1992 with 25 years of service at age 47 with (19 years CSRS and 6 years military time). My dad took early retirement buyout from USPS. I learned my special needs sister is entitled for a CSRS survivor annuity. I have a couple of questions about this. I called OPM, but was told to apply to get these answers.

    My special needs sister has been getting SSI for intellectual disability at $181 a month, which automatically enrolls her in Medicare and Medicaid. She has never had a job. She also gets $633 a month in Social Security Survivor benefit off of my father’s record. My dad worked and paid into SS after he retired from federal government at age 47. I’m estimating my sister is eligible for CSRS survivor annuity of $800 a month, since my dad’s CSRS pension was $16XX per month. SSI program limits her to total of $814 per month ($181 SSI plus $633 SS survivor benefit)

    1. Can she get the full CSRS survivor annuity $800, SS survivor benefit $633, and SSI $181? Does the government pension offset apply to my special needs sister, since both CSRS survivor annuity and SS survivor benefit is not based on her work record?

    2. How does the CSRS surivor annuity $800 affect her SSI and SS survivor benefit? Do you know if I have to give up her SSI to get both CSRS survivor annuity and SS survivor benefit? which benefit gets reduced first if the government pension offset applies?

    3. Is there anyway you can give me a ballpark estimate how much CSRS annuity she would get if I take SSI, SS survivor benefit, CSRS annuity for all three. what would estimate for SS survivor benefit and CSRS survivor annuity if I lose the SSI?

    I want to be careful to not lose my sister’s Medicare/Medicaid. I’m trying to afford a place for her as well. Any help with these questions are greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for this website.

  14. What could I potentially lose or miss out if I leave the federal government before my 5th year? I served 4 years in the army and I know that it would only count after the 5th year.

    • You would only be vested in the retirement system after you have 5 consecutive years of coverage under FERS. If you left before that, you’d simply be entitled to a refund of your retirement contributions.

  15. I’m getting ready to retire from the Post Office after 42 years in CSRS. I was wondering if the Post Office still pays a portion of my health insurance. Been told they do , just wondering how much or what percentage. I have Blue Cross Blue Shield. Thanks for any info.

  16. I am planning to retire next year on MRA+ 10 years of services in USPS as FERS. I will have serviced in the USPS for 25 years next year. I wonder If I still can have FEHB coverage to carry over to my retirement?

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