Last week I highlighted one feature in the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act" that has fired the imagination of federal employees across the country. That feature of Map-21 is "phased retirement." And, based on guidance from OPM, I described what it is and how it will work. This time around, I want to tell you who is eligible to participate.

OPM says it best. So I’ll quote them rather than paraphrase.

In order to participate, an individual must have been employed on a full-time basis for the preceding three years. Under CSRS, the individual must be eligible for immediate retirement with at least 30 years if service at age 55, or with 20 years of service at age 60. Under FERS, the individual must be eligible for immediate retirement with at least 30 years of service at MRA (minimum retirement age 55-57 depending upon year of birth) or with 20 years of service at age 60.

However, even if you meet the criteria, you won’t be eligible if you have any periods of service that are subject to deposits or redeposits unless you have either made the necessary payments or had your annuity reduced, as provided in the law. According to OPM, "Any reduction in annuity or loss of service credit at the time of entry into Phased Retirement will be permanent for the employee. No deposits or redeposits can be made by the employee at a later date, including at the time of full retirement."

OPM also makes it clear that "Participation is entirely voluntary, and requires the mutual consent of both the employee and employing agency." In other words, if you want to participate in phased retirement and your agency doesn’t, it won’t happen. The same is true if your agency wants you to participate and you don’t. It takes two to do the phased retirement tango.

Note: Under the law, you aren’t eligible to participate in phased retirement if you are subject to mandatory retirement, such as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, nuclear materials courier, air traffic controller, customs and border protection officer or a member of the Capital police or Supreme Court police. However, if you are a "grandfathered" customs and border protection officer who isn’t subject to mandatory retirement, you are eligible to participate.

Next time I’ll answer some of the questions about phased retirement that are probably on your mind.