Q. I’m a 50-year-old clerk (FERS) in the post office with 23½ years of service and I want to get out. I want to move from Florida back to my home state 1,000 miles away. I think I only have four options and I’m looking for advice on what would be best for me.
1. Retire with at age 50 and pay the penalties or defer or postpone annuities? If I do that, what will the penalties be?
2. Stick it out for another year and a half until I have 25 years of service and retire. If I do that, will there be any penalties?
3. Try to find a mutual swap close to home and work in a new office for another year and a half until I have my 25 years?
4. Resign. If I resign, what all do I lose?
A. While I can’t offer advice, I can provide you with some facts that may help you in making up your mind. If the Postal Service offers you an opportunity to retire early, you have the age and service needed to do that without penalty. Also, if you were enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program for the five consecutive years before you retired (or at the time your agency offered the early out), you’d be able to carry that coverage into retirement. Note: Having 25 years of service only counts toward retirement for someone who is offered an opportunity to retire early and hasn’t reached age 50.
If the Postal Service doesn’t offer you that opportunity to retire early, you wouldn’t be eligible to retire until you reached your minimum retirement age, which in your case would be 56, and had 30 years of service. If you reached your MRA before you had 30 years of service, you could, of course, retire under the MRA+10 provision. If you did, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were under age 62.
Because you have at least 20 years of service, if you resigned, you’d be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 60. However, you wouldn’t be able to re-enroll in the FEHB program.