Firefighter retirement


Q. I have been in a primary firefighter position for roughly nine years. I am curious what will happen to my FERS retirement calculations if I move into a position that is not covered by special retirement rules, for example, a recreation job. How will the nine years of firefighter time be figured into my retirement calculations? I understand that more money (1.7 percent) is deducted from my paycheck for my retirement fund than my co-workers who are not firefighters, so that must come into play when my retirement annuity is calculated, right? I’ve been looking at the FERS handbook, and I can’t seem to find the answer to this question. I understand that a person must work for 20 years as an LEO or firefighter to retire under the program, but what about someone who leaves the program early? The higher 1.7 percent deductions must be factored into the annuity calculation even though I will not have fulfilled the 20 years required by the program.
If there is no special calculation to account for the 1.7 percent deduction for nine years, and I must follow the regular FERS retirement calculations, what has happened to the extra money that I contributed to the retirement fund for nine years?

A. If you don’t complete 20 years in a covered position, the years that you did spend in one will be calculated using the standard formula, not the enhanced one. Further, you won’t receive a refund of the higher contributions you made to the retirement fund when you were in a covered position.


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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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