Eligibility rules and potential reductions for federal annuities differ by the type of retirement:
Regular Voluntary (“Standard”) Retirement—It is the employee’s option to retire after reaching minimum age and service requirements.
Under FERS, an employee who meets one of the following age and service requirements is entitled to an immediate retirement benefit: age 62 with five years of service, 60 with 20, minimum retirement age (MRA) with 30 or MRA with 10 (but with reduced benefits).
The FERS/Social Security minimum retirement age for those born before 1948 is 55. An increase of two months per year was phased in over the next five years so that it reached 56 for those born in 1953, where it has remained since. Starting with those born in 1965, a similar increase will be phased in so that the MRA will be 57 for those born in 1970 and after.
Under CSRS/CSRS-Offset, an employee may retire at age 62 with five years of service, 60 with 20, or 55 with 30.
Early Retirement—Eligibility requirements are identical for all three retirement systems: age 50 with 20 years of service and any age with 25 years.
If the head of an agency gets approval to permit early optional retirements, eligible employees will be notified of the opportunity to retire voluntarily. If they meet the above requirements, they may retire voluntarily on an immediate annuity. At least five years of the service must be civilian service. CSRS/CSRS-Offset employees must have been employed under that system for at least one year out of the last two years preceding retirement. There is no such requirement under FERS.
Under CSRS/CSRS-Offset, there is a potential reduction: the annuity is reduced by 2 percent for each year an employee is under age 55. That rarely applies anymore because almost all CSRS employees are above that age. There is no reduction under FERS.
Discontinued Service—Those who are involuntarily separated, other than for misconduct or delinquency, and have at least 25 years of service or are at least age 50 with 20 years of service, will be entitled to an immediate “discontinued service” annuity. The term “involuntary separation” means any separation against an employee’s will and without his or her consent, other than “for cause.” This typically is invoked in reduction-in-force situations.
At least five years of the service must be civilian service.
Under CSRS/CSRS-Offset, the annuity will be reduced by 2 percent for each year the employee is under age 55, as above. There is no reduction under FERS. CSRS/CSRS-Offset employees must have been employed under CSRS for at least one year out of the last two years preceding retirement. There is no such requirement under FERS.
Deferred Retirement—Employees under CSRS/CSRS-Offset who leave federal service before meeting the age and service requirements for an immediate retirement benefit may receive a deferred annuity at age 62, if they have at least five years of creditable civilian service, do not receive a refund of all retirement contributions and are not eligible for an immediate retirement benefit. Under FERS, employees are eligible at age 62 with five years of service, 60 with 20, minimum retirement age with 30 or MRA with 10 (but with a reduced benefit).
Disability Retirement—Employees who become disabled during the course of their federal career may be entitled to a disability annuity. Under CSRS/CSRS-Offset, they must have completed at least five years of federal civilian service; under FERS, only 18 months. Second, while employed in a position covered by either CSRS/CSRS-Offset or FERS, they must have become disabled for “useful and efficient service” in both their current position and any other vacant position at the same grade or pay level for which qualified.
Before they can be considered eligible for a disability retirement benefit, their employing agency must determine that they are not qualified for reassignment to any other vacant position within the agency and commuting area at the same grade or pay level of the position they currently occupy.