Here’s a string of questions you need answers to: When am I eligible to retire? How much service do I have? What’s included in basic pay? What are deposits and redeposits and do I have to make them? How is my high-3 calculated? How do I figure out what my annuity will be? And what happens if I retire and want to go back to work for the government?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll answer each of those questions.

This week, I’ll let you know when you’ll be eligible to retire.

CSRS or CSRS Offset

If you are a regular CSRS employee, you’ll be able to retire when you have the following combination of age and service: 62 with 5, 60 with 20, or 55 with 30. If you are offered early retirement by your agency under the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA), you can retire at age 50 with 20 years of service or at any age with 25. However, your annuity will be reduced by 2 percent for every year (1/6 percent per month) that you are under age 55.

If you are a special category employee, such as a law enforcement officer or firefighter, you can retire at age 50 with 20 years of service. However, unlike regular CSRS employees, you won’t be subject to an age penalty regardless of the age at which you retire.

FERS or FERS with a CSRS Component

While the eligibility requirements to retire under FERS are similar to CSRS, there are some important differences. Like a CSRS employee, you can retire at age 62 with 5 years of service and age 60 with 20. Unlike a CSRS employee, if you want to retire with 30 years of service, you’ll have to wait until you reach your minimum retirement age. MRAs range between 55 and 57, depending on your year of birth.

You can also retire under the MRA+10 provision (at your MRA with at least 10 but fewer than 30 years of service). However, you’ll be hit with a 5 percent per year penalty for every year you are under age 62 (5/12 of 1 percent per month). To reduce or eliminate that age penalty, you can postpone the receipt of your annuity to a later date.

The age and service requirements to qualify for early retirement under a VERA are the same as those for CSRS employees: 50 with 20 or at any age with 25. However, there’s one important difference from CSRS. If you are covered by FERS and take early retirement, there won’t be any age penalty.

The rules for FERS special category employees are slightly different from those under CSRS. Not only can you retire at age 50 with 20 years of service but you can also do that at any age with 25.

Unused Sick Leave

Unused sick leave can’t be used to meet the length of service requirement to make you eligible to retire. It can only be added to your length of service after you are eligible to retire. This applies under both CSRS and FERS.

Next week I’ll explain what is and isn’t considered to be creditable service.