Q: I am covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System’s law enforcement retirement plan. I have 11 years in as a law enforcement officer plus three years of federal service as a non-LEO. I am 48 and am considering retirement to go back to school. I may return to federal service at some point, but not as an LEO. I would be retiring without having 20 years of service or reaching my mandatory retirement age of 57.
I know there are benefits to retiring as opposed to resigning (especially as an LEO), but what are the major pension pros and cons? Also, if I retire, how does deferment and the eventual pension work? And if I re-enter service before my mandatory retirement age, does the clock restart at that point?
A: You can’t retire. While you have at least 10 years of service, you aren’t old enough. If you resign, which is your only option if you want to go back to school now, you could return to work for the government at a later date. However, because the mandatory retirement age for law enforcement officers is 57, it’s unlikely that you’d be rehired into a covered position. On the other hand, if you were, you’d be allowed to continue working beyond age 57 until you hit 20 years of covered service. Alternatively, you could take a noncovered position and retire under the less-generous provisions that govern such positions. In either case, if you were re-employed, you would get credit for any prior service if you didn’t take a refund of your retirement contributions. If you did, you’d have to redeposit that amount plus accrued interest.