Reg Jones Expert's View

fedweek.com: early retirement myths How many of you have heard that if an agency is planning to undergo a staff reduction because of reorganization, realignment or reduction in force, it can add years of age and/or service to employees who would otherwise not be eligible to retire? If you have, beware. That’s utter nonsense.

On federal personnel matters, there is always an abundance of fictions that masquerade as facts.

Years ago, these were minor annoyances because once started, they spread slowly—by word of mouth, interoffice mail or fax. Eventually people were set straight. Even then, the saying was that a lie can get around the world in the time it takes the truth to put its pants on.

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Now some of them are back in circulation, and now we have the fastest and most effective misinformation machine ever invented, social media. Truth doesn’t even have time to decide which pants to wear.

Over the next few weeks I’ll point out some examples, starting with a classic.

How many of you have heard that if an agency is planning to undergo a staff reduction because of reorganization, realignment or reduction in force, it can add years of age and/or service to employees who would otherwise not be eligible to retire? If you have, beware. That’s utter nonsense.

For most CSRS employees the standard age and service requirements are as follows: age 60 with 20 years of service and 55 with 30. For most FERS employees, the age and service requirements are: age 62 with 5 years of service, 60 with 20 or with a reduced benefit at your minimum retirement age (MRA) with between 10 and 29 years of service. MRAs range between 55 and 57 depending on your year of birth.

When it comes to determining your age for a retirement eligibility combination, it’s the day you were born, simple as that. Much as many of us would like, no one—not even the federal government—can change when we were born (and if we could change, how many of us would opt to be older?).

The same goes for service. You either have enough years of service to retire under one of those combinations, given your age, or you don’t. There aren’t any provisions in law or regulation that allow for altering that.

In conclusion, if someone starts spreading a rumor that your agency will be adding years and/or service to make its employees eligible to retire, please set them straight. There’s no point in raising hopes that will soon be dashed.

Note: Don’t confuse this with early retirement. Under both CSRS and FERS, if your agency offers you an early retirement opportunity, you can do that at age 50 with 20 years of service or at any age with 25. That’s a change in eligibility rules, not a change in your age or creditable service.

Keys to a Strong Retirement Application

ask.FEDweek.com: Retirement Eligibility & FERS Minimum Retirement Age (MRA)

FERS Retirement Guide 2020