Reg Jones Expert's View

CSRS and FERS employees have a lot in common when it comes to retirement. Both can retire at age 62 with 5 years of service and age 60 with 20. Where they first diverge is when they both have 30 years of service. CSRS employees can retire at age 55; however FERS employees have to wait until they reach their minimum retirement age. If you were born before 1948, your MRA is 55. However, if you were born after that, it’s higher.


If you were born Your MRA is

1948 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 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

In 1970 and later 57

Keep your MRA firmly in mind because there’s a feature in FERS that’s unique. FERS employees can retire when they reach their MRA and have at least 10 but fewer than 30 years of service. While that’s a blessing for those who want to leave before completing a full career, it comes at a price. Let me explain.

If you retire under the MRA+10 provision, your annuity will be calculated using the standard formula: 0.01 x your high-3 x your years and full months of service. However, it will be reduced by 5/12 percent for every month you are under age 62. That’s 5 percent per year. You can reduce or eliminate that penalty by retiring but postponing the receipt of your annuity to a later date.

If you have at least five years of consecutive coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits or Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance programs on the day you retire, you’ll be able to carry that coverage into retirement, with the premiums being deducted from your annuity payments. If you postpone the receipt of your annuity, your coverage will stop; however, you’ll be able to reenroll when your annuity begins.

Under both programs you’ll receive a 31-day extension of coverage at no cost to yourself. You’ll also be able to continue your FEHB coverage for up to 18 months by paying the full premiums plus 2 percent to your former agency, or convert to a private policy at any point in that time. You may also elect to convert to a private life insurance policy, for which you’d pay the premiums.