55 with high-stress job: Can I retire?


Q: I am a GS-4, Step 10 employee under the Federal Employees Retirement System. I am 55 years old and want to know whether I can retire. I’ve done 22 years of federal service and have four years of military time (1973-76); I was told I need to buy back the time, but I don’t have the money they said it would cost me.

I would like to retire early because of high blood pressure. My doctor told me it was caused by job stress. I was diagnosed by my doctor after I was hospitalized while on the job because of a stress-related headache. My employer says it does not accept high blood pressure [as a disability]and that it cannot be proven to be job-related.

A: Because you were born in 1955, you won’t be able to retire on an immediate annuity until you are 56. Then you could retire under the MRA+10 provision (minimum retirement age plus at least 10 years of service). However, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were under age 62. You could, of course, apply for disability retirement. If you want to consider doing that, you should sit down with a specialist in your personnel office and learn about what that would require. Keep in mind that to be eligible for disability retirement, you would have to be unable to perform the duties of your current job or any other job for which you are qualified at the same grade or pay level. Also, unless you make a deposit for your period of active-duty service, you won’t get any credit for it in determining your eligibility to retire or in your annuity computation.


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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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