Air traffic controller, FERS retirement


Q  I have been an air traffic controller since November 1985. I was born in 1960. If I work until I am 56 (mandatory retirement), am I then, or at anytime, eligible for the 1.7 percent calculator for all the 30+ years I am employed?

A. If you are an ATCS with 30+ years and retire at age 56, you have the option of the regular computation, 20 years at 1.7% and remaining years at 1%, or all years at 1.7%, however, if you choose the 1.7% for all years, you would get no cost of living adjustment until you reach age 62.


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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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  1. Yes you will be eligible for 1.7 percent for all the years you were ATC. If any of the years were non ATC you will only get 1 percent for those. However you will receive no cola increases until you are 62 years old.

    New provisions were added that apply only to retiring ATCs and former ATCs who meet certain criteria. Under 5 U.S.C. 8412(a), retirement is permitted at minimum retirement age (MRA), which is between 55 and 57, depending on your date of birth, and with 30 years of service. If an individual meets the provisions as stated or has a least five years of ATC service (as defined by 5 U.S.C. (a)(1)(A)(i): actively engaged in the separation and control of air traffic), the retiree’s annuity will be computed at a rate of 1.7 percent for all years of service in lieu of the 1 percent after 20 that would normally apply. This provision includes some, but not all Flight Service Station ATCs. Your current contribution percentage deposited to your FERS annuity can be used as a determining factor.

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