Reg Jones Expert's View

Deferred Retirement

Reg Jones

Over the last four weeks, I’ve written about the pluses and minuses of staying in the federal government during this time of crisis or pulling up stakes and going. I’ve touched on those of you who don’t have the years of service needed to retire and focused on those of you who are eligible for immediate retirement with an unreduced annuity or who can retire under the MRA+10 provision, but with an age-based penalty.

This week I want to conclude the series with an article about those of you who leave government before you’ve reached your minimum retirement age.

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If you have five or more years of creditable civilian service, haven’t reached your MRA, and don’t take a refund of your retirement contributions when you leave government, you’ll be eligible for a deferred annuity.

While former CSRS employees can apply for a deferred annuity at age 62, former FERS employees have more options. If you have at least five years of FERS service, you’d be eligible for an unreduced annuity at age 62. With at least 20 years of service you’d be eligible at age 60. If you had 30 or more years, you’d be eligible 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; however, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year (5/12 of 1 percent per month) that you are under age 62. As I pointed out in my last article, you could reduce or eliminate that age penalty by delaying the receipt of your annuity.

As a reminder, here’s that MRA chart again:

If you were born before 1948, your MRA is 55

If you were born in 1948, it’s 55 and 2 months
1949, 55 and 4 months
1950, 55 and 6 months
1951, 55 and 8 months
1952, 55 and 10 months

In 1953 through 1964, your MRA is 56

1965, 56 and 2 months
1966, 56 and 4 months
1967, 56 and 6 months
1968, 56 and 8 months
1969, 56 and 10 months

And, in 1970 and later it’s 57

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

One last thing to keep in mind. Even if you are eligible for a deferred annuity before age 62, you won’t be entitled to the special retirement supplement. The SRS approximates the amount of Social Security benefit earned while a FERS employee. However, when you reach age 62, you will be eligible for a Social Security benefit based on all your Social Security covered employment.

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FERS Retirement Guide 2020