All federal retirees are eligible for an annuity under the following categories that depend on age and length of service:
Regular Retirement—It is the employee’s option to retire after reaching minimum age and service requirements. However, there is a difference in eligibility requirements between the CSRS/CSRS-Offset and FERS systems.
Under FERS, an employee who meets one of the following age and service requirements is entitled to an immediate retirement benefit: age 62 with five years of service, 60 with 20, minimum retirement age (MRA) with 30 or MRA with 10 (but with reduced benefits).
The FERS/Social Security minimum retirement age for those born before 1948 is 55. An increase of two months per year is phased in over the next five years so that it reaches 56 for those born in 1953 through 1964. A similar increase applies over the five following years so that the MRA reaches 57 for those born in 1970 and after.
Under CSRS/CSRS-Offset, an employee may retire at age 62 with five years of service, 60 with 20, or 55 with 30.
Early Retirement—Eligibility requirements are identical for all three retirement systems: age 50 with 20 years of service and any age with 25 years.
If the head of an agency gets approval to permit early optional retirements, eligible employees will be notified of the opportunity to retire voluntarily. If they meet the above requirements, they may retire voluntarily on an immediate annuity. (Under CSRS/CSRS-Offset, the annuity is reduced by 2 percent for each year an employee is under age 55. There is no reduction under FERS.) At least five years of the service must be civilian service. CSRS/CSRS-Offset employees must have been employed under that system for at least one year out of the last two years preceding retirement. There is no such requirement under FERS.
Discontinued Service—Those who are involuntarily separated, other than for misconduct or delinquency, and have at least 25 years of service or are at least age 50 with 20 years of service, will be entitled to an immediate “discontinued service” annuity. The term “involuntary separation” means any separation against an employee’s will and without his or her consent, other than “for cause.” This typically is invoked in reduction-in-force situations.
Under CSRS/CSRS-Offset, the annuity will be reduced by 2 percent for each year the employee is under age 55. There is no reduction under FERS. CSRS/CSRS-Offset employees must have been employed under CSRS for at least one year out of the last two years preceding retirement. There is no such requirement under FERS. At least five years of the service must be civilian service.
Deferred Retirement—Employees under CSRS/CSRS-Offset who leave federal service before meeting the age and service requirements for an immediate retirement benefit may receive a deferred annuity at age 62, if they have at least five years of creditable civilian service, do not receive a refund of all retirement contributions and are not eligible for an immediate retirement benefit. Under FERS, employees are eligible at age 62 with five years of service, 60 with 20, minimum retirement age with 30 or MRA with 10 (but with a reduced benefit).
Disability Retirement—Employees who become disabled during the course of their federal career may be entitled to a disability annuity. Under CSRS/CSRS-Offset, they must have completed at least five years of federal civilian service; under FERS, only 18 months. Second, while employed in a position covered by either CSRS/CSRS-Offset or FERS, they must have become disabled for “useful and efficient service” in both their current position and any other vacant position at the same grade or pay level for which qualified.
Before they can be considered eligible for a disability retirement benefit, their employing agency must determine that they are not qualified for reassignment to any other vacant position within the agency and commuting area at the same grade or pay level of the position they currently occupy.