Last week I went over the retirement eligibility rules for CSRS employees. This time I’ll focus on the ones for FERS employees. Not only do they include more retirement options than those available to CSRS employees, but they also have features that are unique to FERS.
Immediate unreduced annuity
As a FERS employee, you can retire on an immediate, unreduced annuity with the following combinations of age and service:
• 62 with 5
• 60 with 20
• at your minimum retirement age (MRA) with 30
Note: MRAs range between 55 and 57, depending on your year of birth.
You can also retire at your MRA with at least 10 years of service under the MRA+10 provision. If you do that, your annuity will be reduced by 5 percent for every year (5/12 of 1 percent per month) you are under age 62 (60, if you have at least 20 years of service).
If your agency is offering early retirement under the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA), you can retire with the following combinations of age and service:
• 50 with 20
• at any age with 25
Special retirement supplement
FERS is a retirement system with three parts to it: an annuity, Social Security, and the Thrift Savings Plan. If you retire at age 60 with 20 years of service or at your MRA with 30, you’ll be entitled to a special retirement supplement. The SRS approximates the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a FERS employee. The same is true if you retire under a VERA, but only when you reach your MRA. The SRS will continue to age 62, when you first become eligible for a Social Security benefit. We’ll look at this in more detail next week.
Unlike CSRS, your FERS annuity won’t be increased by COLAs until you reach age 62 unless you retired under disability or subject to mandatory retirement as a “special category employee,” such as a law enforcement officer or firefighter. The SRS won’t be increased at all.
Postponed and deferred annuities
If you retire under the MRA+10 provision, you can postpone the receipt of your annuity to a later date to reduce or eliminate the age penalty. If your annuity begins before age 62, you’ll be entitled to the SRS.
If you don’t meet the age and service requirements to retire when you leave but have at least 5 years of service and don’t ask for a refund of your retirement contributions, you can apply for a deferred annuity when you meet one of the following age and service combinations:
• 62 with 5
• 60 with 20
• at your MRA with 30
• at your MRA with 10, but with the same age penalty described above
Note: Deferred retirees are never entitled to the SRS.
Health benefits and life insurance
If you retire on an immediate unreduced annuity, you can carry your FEHB and FEGLI coverage into retirement. If you either postpone the receipt of your annuity or are only eligible for a deferred annuity, your FEHB and FEGLI coverage will end after a 31-day free extension of coverage. You can continue your health benefits coverage at you own expense, plus 2 percent for up to 18 months. You’ll have the option of purchasing individual life insurance at your own expense.
If you retire on a postponed annuity, you can reenroll in the FEHB and FEGLI programs when your annuity begins. On the other hand, if you apply for a deferred annuity, you won’t be able to reenroll in either program.
askFEDweek: Calculating a Federal Annuity – FERS and CSRS