Reg Jones Expert's View

The rules governing Law Enforcement Officer and Firefighter retirement are different from those of other employees. Following is a summary of rules that apply to these special provision category employees covered by CSRS. We’ll look at FERS next.

Eligibility Requirements under CSRS

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Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters can retire at an earlier age than most other employees. To be eligible to retire, you must be at least age 50 with 20 or more years of special provision covered service. Unused sick leave can’t be used to meet the minimum service requirement. The same is true of military service unless you go directly from a special provision position into the military, return to a covered position and make the military service deposit.

Mandatory Separation

If you have completed 20 years of service under these special retirement provisions, you must be separated on the last day of the month in which you reach age 57, if you are currently occupying a law enforcement or firefighter position. However, in the public interest, an agency head may exempt you from mandatory separation until age 60.

Note: Once you’ve met the age and service requirements, you don’t need to stay in a covered position to retire under the special provisions. You can take a non-covered job, avoid mandatory separation, and still receive the enhanced computation for those 20 years of special provision service, with the remaining years of service computed using the standard formula.

Annuity Computation

Because of the nature of these positions, the annuity is calculated using an enhanced formula that is more generous than fellow CSRS employees enjoy. However, to receive the enhanced computation, one-half percent more is paid into the retirement fund.

More on Federal Annuity Calculation for LEOs and Firefighters at ask.FEDweek.com

To calculate the annuity multiply 2½ percent x 20 years of special provision service x your “high-3” average salary. All years and months over 20, even if covered by the special provisions and including your unused sick leave, are then multiplied by 2%. Add the dollar figures together and you have your starting annuity.

Check back for FERS rules governing LEOs and FFs.