Retiring early without penalty


Q: I am a federal employee covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System, and at age 49 will have just over 30 years of service with my military time that I bought back. Can I retire without penalty by postponing or deferring my annuity until my minimum retirement age of 56 years and 2 months, and reapply for the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan for my spouse, and draw on my Thrift Savings Plan, as well? Do I defer my annuity or postpone my annuity under this scenario? What is the better of the two options, or should I not pursue either of them?

A: Because you haven’t reached your minimum retirement age but have 30 years of service, your only option, if you want to leave now, would be to resign from the government and apply for a deferred annuity when you reach your MRA. Unfortunately, deferred retirees aren’t eligible to re-enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program.


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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

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