Q. I am 49 years old with 22 years of federal service. I am in FERS. Is there any situation whereby I can voluntarily retire at 50, keep my health benefits (me plus spouse) for life and receive an immediate annuity next year? Side notes: My MRA is 57 and I have had health insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield family for 15 years). Am I looking at a 5 percent a year reduction (to 57 or 62)? Would the supplemental annuity (at age 57) go away? Finally, how would a VERA (or something similar) change my situation and are we likely to see any (temporary or permanent?) early-out options out there going forward?
A. The only situation in which you could retire at age 50 would be if your agency was authorized to offer early retirement and you were working in an occupation, grade level and/or geographic area targeted for reduction or undergoing a major reorganization. If you were able to take early retirement, you could carry your health benefits coverage into retirement and begin receiving the special retirement supplement when you reached your MRA. If you really want to leave government, you can do that at any time. Based on your years of service you would be able to apply for a deferred annuity at age 60. However, you wouldn’t be able to re-enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program nor would you be eligible to receive the special retirement supplement.