Early retirement


Q. I have often thought about leaving the federal government, but I don’t want to leave the possibility of an early retirement on the table.
I was hired by the federal government in May 1999 and I bought my prior military service (eight years of active duty). My minimum retirement age is 56 and my service computation date is in January 1991. By January 2011, I will have 20 years of federal employment and will be about two years shy of my 50th birthday. In prior years, the agency that I work for has offered OPM-sanctioned voluntary early retirements (VERA). I am wondering if I should take an early retirement if it is offered? I have also considered resigning and making my retirement elections (defined benefit, 401(k) and Social Security) when I am at an age where I won’t be penalized. I am not sure the latter thought is even possible.

A. Only you can decide whether you should take early retirement if it’s offered to you. If you want to leave government before you reach your MRA, you would simply have to resign. With at least 20 years of service, you would be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 60. Your annuity would be based on your highest three consecutive years of average salary and your length of service on the day you left. You would not be eligible for the special retirement supplement nor would you be allowed to re-enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits or the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance programs.


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.

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