Defer or postpone


Q. I was told to separate and postpone my retirement to avoid the penalty. I am 58 years old, and will have 16 years at the Defense Department. How does the annuity work? Is it an annual payment or monthly? What is the difference between postpone and defer? Do I submit my intentions to the HRC CPAC when I submit for separation?

A. The difference between differing and postponing an annuity is simple: If you have the age and service needed to retire under the MRA+10 provision, you can reduce or eliminate the five-percent-per-year penalty by postponing the receipt of your annuity to a later date. If you aren’t eligible to retire, you can resign and apply for a deferred annuity when you have the right combination of age and service to do that. Since you are currently eligible for an annuity under the MRA+10 provision, you can apply for it now and, if you prefer, postpone the annuity payments to a later date. If you weren’t, you’d have to resign, wait until you met the age and service requirements, and then apply for an annuity.


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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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