Federal employees could begin filing applications for phased retirement beginning on November 6, 2014. However, that didn’t mean that agencies were ready to accept or act on them. In fact, most of them still aren’t ready. Even those that are ready haven’t shown much enthusiasm for the concept. What’s even more interesting is that few eligible employees have shown much interest either.

Since phased retirement has been on the back burner for so long, you may have forgotten what it’s all about, so let’s start this series on the topic by refreshing our memories with a set of questions and answers.

What is phased retirement?
It’s an opportunity for retirement-eligible employees to reduce their work schedules and receive a combination of salary and retirement benefits. They can transition into retirement by working part-time while receiving a portion of their annuity when they aren’t working. Entry into the program is entirely voluntary and requires that both the employee and the agency agree on the terms of the arrangement.

What is its purpose of phased retirement?
To have phased retirees mentor and train employees who will be filling their positions or taking on the duties of more experienced employees who are retiring. Allowing them to work part-time would assist agencies with knowledge management and continuity of operations.

Who is eligible to participate?
Most CSRS or FERS employees who have been employed full-time for not less than three years before they enter into phased retirement and meet the following criteria:
* If you are a CSRS employee, you must be at least 55 years old and have at least 30 years of service or be at least 60 years old and have at least 20 years of service.
* If you are a FERS employee, you must have reached your minimum retirement age (MRA), which ranges between 55 and 57 depending on your year of birth, and have at least 30 years of service or be at least 60 years old and have at least 20 years of service.

Who isn’t eligible to participate?
* Law enforcement officers
* Firefighters
* Air traffic controllers
* Nuclear materials couriers
* Members of the Capitol Police
* Members of the Supreme Court Police
* Most customs and border protection officers
* Employees covered by a special work schedule authority that doesn’t allow for a regularly recurring part-time schedule, such as firefighters covered by 5 U.S.C. 5545b or nurses covered by 38 U.S.C. 7456 or 7456A.

Next time I’ll explain what you have to do if you want to participate in the phased retirement program and how it actually works.