If you have five or more years of creditable civilian service but don’t meet any of the combinations for immediate retirement when you leave government, you’ll be eligible for a deferred annuity so long as you don’t take a refund of your retirement contributions.

A former CSRS employee can apply for one at age 62. Under FERS, it depends on your years of service when you leave and your age. With at least five years of service, you’d be eligible for an unreduced annuity at age 62. With at least 20, age 60. If you had 30, when you reach your MRA (minimum retirement age). And, if you had at least 10 but fewer than 30 years of service, you could retire when you reach your MRA, but your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year (5/12 percent per month) that you are under age 62. You could reduce or eliminate that age penalty by retiring and delaying the receipt of your annuity to a later date.

Once your annuity begins, you’ll receive it for the rest of your life. On the down side, your annuity will be frozen at the amount it would have been on the day you left. The longer the time between when you resign from the government and when you are eligible to receive your annuity, the more your benefit will have been eroded by inflation. On the other hand, beginning at age 62 any future cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) will be added to your annuity.

Another point to consider: If you are a former FERS employee who is eligible for a deferred retirement before age 62, you won’t be entitled to the special retirement supplement, which approximates the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a FERS employee.

Note: When you resign from the government, you’ll receive a 31-day extension of coverage of your Federal Employees Health Benefits and Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance coverage at no cost to yourself. You’ll also be able to continue your FEHB coverage for up to 18 months by paying the full premiums plus 2 percent to your former agency. You may also elect to convert your FEGLI coverage to a private life insurance policy, for which you’d pay the premiums. However, as a deferred retiree, when your annuity begins, you won’t be eligible to reenroll in the FEHB or FEGLI programs.