Retirement and terminally ill spouse


Q. I am 54 years old with 31 years of service. My wife is terminally ill and has only about two years left at best, and I want to retire. I know that I have qualified for my retirement annuity, but do I also qualify for the Social Security supplement bridge pay? Also, I am 18 months from my 56th birthday. Am I subject to the early retirement penalty? If so, how much?

A. Unfortunately, you aren’t qualified for a retirement annuity. To qualify, you’d need to have reached your minimum retirement age. The only way you’d be able to retire now would be if your agency had received approval for early retirements under the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and you were among those to whom it was offered. If that happens, there wouldn’t be an age penalty for retiring early. However, you wouldn’t be eligible for the special retirement supplement until you reach your MRA, which is 56.


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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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