The best time to retire?


Q: Is it better to retire at 42 years old with 22 years of service ($2,900 a month), or go for 30 years and be 50 years old ($5,200 a month)? I feel it would be smarter to retire at 42; it would allow me to start another career.

A: As far as this site is concerned, you’ve come to the Department of Unanswerable Questions. Only you can decide what makes better sense, always keeping in mind that the future is unknowable. What might seem like a good decision now might not look as good somewhere down the road. What I can tell you is that whenever you decide to retire, you can always get another job. If it turns out to be with the federal government, you’ll have the option of keeping any military retired pay and working long enough to be eligible for a civilian annuity or combining your active-duty military service with your civilian service and waiving your military retired pay when you retire. Which of those choices would be better is something you’d have to figure out for yourself.


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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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