Force-outs before mandatory retirement age


Q. I am a federal law enforcement officer with 17 years employment with the U.S. District Court. With the economy on the decline, I have serious concerns that staff who earn a significant salary will be forced to retire before their 57th birthday to save the district money. Is forced retirement legal? Can an employee be forced to leave before their mandatory age? Can they be forced out once they reach 20 years of service even if it’s long before the mandatory age?

A. While you can’t be forced out, you could face separation from the service if your agency has received approval for a reduction in force, reorganization or realignment, and any of those actions affect you. Even then, you have rights, such as bump and retreat or reassignment, that would have to be played out before you could be separated.


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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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