Q. I am a 29-year-old FERS employee with 3½ years of service. Given sequestration and budget cuts, I fear my position may be eliminated long before I’m able to retire (MRA of 57). I’m trying to be as financially prepared as possible. I understand that I am entitled to my contributions (plus interest) to FERS regardless of years of service. I’m trying to understand when I am entitled to the government’s contribution to FERS. Is it after five years of service? For example, if I have five years of service but am let go because of budget cuts in year six (and way before my MRA), am I entitled to the government’s contribution to my FERS? Would this be considered a deferred retirement at 62?
A. No one is entitled to a refund of the government’s contributions to the retirement fund regardless of their years of service. If they are separated before they are eligible to retire, they are entitled only to what they contributed to the fund, plus interest. And they get interest only if they are covered by FERS.
If you were separated after you had five years of service (but fewer than 10), left your contributions in the fund and didn’t later return to federal employment, you could apply for a deferred annuity at age 62. If you had at least 10 years (but fewer than 20), you could apply for deferred annuity at your MRA. However, that annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were under age 62. If you had at least 20 years, you could apply for an unreduced annuity at age 60.