The benefit of 20 years' service


Q: I am 42 years old. I have 19 years of government service, with six of those being military. What effect would it have on me if I were to quit my job at 19 years, versus 20 years. I keep hearing 20 is a magic number. I can hold out until I hit 20 if it will significantly impact my retirement once I am eligible.

A: As a Federal Employees Retirement System employee, if you were to leave government before having 20 years of creditable service, you wouldn’t be able to apply for a deferred annuity until you reached age 62. If you left with at least 20 years, you would be able to do that at age 60.


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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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