Retirement and health benefits


Q. I started with the U.S. Postal Service in May 1994 as an rural carrier associate. I became a regular employee in 2001. If I quit my job, would I lose my health benefits? What about any of my other benefits?

A. If you quit your job before being eligible for an immediate annuity, your health and life insurance coverage would continue for 31 days at no expense to you. You would be able to continue your health benefits at your own expense under the temporary continuation of coverage provision. You would have the option of converting your life insurance coverage to a private policy, also at your own expense. If you have fewer than 20 years of creditable service, you’d be able to apply for a deferred annuity at age 62. If you had at least 20 years of service you could apply at age 60. In neither case would you be eligible to enroll in the health benefits or life insurance programs. Note: Because you have at least 10 years of covered service, you could apply for a deferred annuity under the MRA+10 provision; however, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year you were younger than age 62.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


  1. I have been receiving a FERS disability annuity retirement since 2008, but in May 2017 turned age 62. The Age 62 Annuity that I received from OPM was less than I thought it should be. I asked OPM to show me their calculations. It took two years to get them to give me their calculations of my Age 62 annuity payment.
    I noticed that they did not apply one COLA to my high three salary, and asked why they did not use that one COLA. OPM said that the law doesn’t allow disability retirement annuitants to receive COLA’s until they have been retired for more than one year, so my first COLA did not get included in my high three salary adjustment. The OPM website, and their Disability handbook states that all COLA’s will be used to recompute the Annuity at age 62. Any ideas why they would have denied my COLA adjustment?

    • No,I don’t have any idea. I suggest you ask OPM to show you in writing why that first year wasn’t included.

  2. I worked as csrs employee for 15 years. During those years I did not participate in the medical insurance benefits. I left the federal service, and worked 15 years. I then returned to federal service, and immediately signed up for medical benefits. Questions: (1) How would I calculate my retirement pension?
    (2) is my understanding correct that I need to have participated in the medical benefits for 5 years in order to keep the benefits into retirement?
    (3) where might I find an expert to consult regarding retirement benefits when an individual has had many breaks in service?

    • 1) Your retirement annuity would be based on the CSRS formula:
      .015 X your high-3 X 5 years of service, plus
      .0175 X your high-3 X 5 years of service, plus
      .02 X your high-3 X all remaining years of service
      Your high-3 would be determined by adding the basic pay you received during the 78 consecutive months of service preceding your retirement.

      2) Yes, you would need to have been enrolled in the FEHB program for the 5 consecutive years preceding your retirement.

      3) Your best bet would be to contact NARFE (the National Association of Active and Retired Employees). There may be a chapter in you area. If so, they may be able to put you in touch with someone who can help you.

  3. Reg Thanks for a the good info you put out. I was once on a website which showed me what I would get at various ages during my retirement. What federal employee website would that be?

  4. OWCP says there of $4000.00 because at age 62 SSA said I qualified for retirement.SSA aid any recipients who at 62 applies for retirement the worker’s compensation offset doesn’t apply also OPM states That I am inactive with OPMAnd FERS I only worked1yr 8 months due to broken neck OPM says that you must have 5 yrs work what’s up who is right

  5. I am a Border Patrol Agent working in the Los Angeles locality region. I have been working there for 15 years. I currently will qualify for the special law enforcement category in FERS which includes my base pay plus 25% included in the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act (similar to LEAP) if I remain with the Border Patrol. My question is that I am considering a career change to another federal law enforcement career in a Rest of US locality area. The pay would be significantly less as I am considering Federal Corrections or Federal Probation. Would my high 3 be locked in with my Border Patrol pay (including the 25%) as well as the Los Angeles Locality pay or would I lose these if I relocated and took the job which doesn’t have the 25% in my last 6 or 7 years. Basically, I’m happy with my current high 3 and I don’t want it to go down if I take this job in the Midwest.

    • Your high-3 will be based on your highest three consecutive years (78 bi-weekly pay periods) of Basic pay, regardless of when they occur in your career. Basic pay is the amount in your pay check from which retirement deductions are taken.

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