The vast majority of federal employees look forward to enjoying the federal government’s generous retirement package.
Yet there is no well-defined minimum retirement age for federal employees because there are several different kinds of early retirement.
Thus, the minimum retirement age for federal employees hinges on the type of retirement.
These forms of retirement depend, in turn, on things like the employee’s health status and years of federal service.
The upside of this arrangement is that federal employees have significant flexibility when considering retirement options. However, there are downsides that you should consider as well.
We’ll unpack the various minimum retirement ages for federal employees in this article. We’ll also delve into what you can do to help minimize any negative consequences of early retirement.
However, if you have more specific questions or want legal advice for your personal situation, give our firm a call today.
What Is the Minimum Retirement Age for Federal Employees?
The general minimum retirement age depends on which kind of federal retirement system you are serving under.
Minimum Retirement Age in the Civil Service Retirement System
If you are an older employee who joined the federal service before 1987, you may be under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Employees under CSRS can technically retire at any time.
However, the earliest you can retire under CSRS without reducing your retirement benefits is 55. This low age is achievable only if you have 30 years of service.
CSRS employees with more than 20 years of service of a minimum retirement age of 60. CSRS employees with fewer years of service have a minimum retirement age of 62.
There are some exceptions to this rule, however. We’ll explore those in a moment.
Calculating Minimum Retirement Age Under the Federal Employee Retirement System
If you began your federal career in or after 1987, you are under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). Calculating the retirement age depends on your year of birth.
If you were born before 1948, then you can retire at 55. If you were born in 1970 or later, you can enjoy minimum retirement at 57.
And if you were born between 1948 and 1970, your minimum retirement age will be between 55 and 2 months and 56 and 10 months.
However, there’s an additional fact that bears mentioning. Under FERS, you may not receive your complete retirement annuity even after you reach your minimum retirement age.
For instance, if you have fewer than 30 years of federal service when you reach your retirement age, the government will reduce your retirement benefits by 5% for every year that you are under 62.
That means if you retire at age 60 with 28 years of federal, you will receive only 90% of your retirement annuity from the government.
Similarly, if you retire at age 55, you can expect to receive just 65% of your retirement benefits.
Exploring Alternative Retirement Plans
Under both FERS and CSRS, employees can use several pathways to retire before the minimum retirement age.
Specifically, federal employees can retire early through one of three situations:
- Involuntary early retirement. When agencies undergo reorganizations or shrink in size, they can offer early retirement to employees who are facing the ax. Under this scheme, you can retire at age 50 with full benefits if you have more than 20 years of service.
- Deferred retirement. Deferred retirement is an option if you voluntarily leave federal service before your minimum retirement age. Assuming you have five years of service when you leave federal service, you can receive limited retirement benefits when you reach your minimum retirement age.
- Disability retirement. Disability retirement requires that you have a long-term disabling condition that prevents you from doing your current duties. In addition, you need to have 18 months of federal service, and your agency has to demonstrate that it cannot effectively accommodate you in your current position.
If you want to learn more about these options, it’s best to contact a federal employment attorney.
Is There a Mandatory Retirement Age for Federal Employees?
Generally, no. Mandatory retirement ages exist only for federal law enforcement officers and firefighters.
Regardless of whether they are under FERS or CSRS, both law enforcement officers and firefighters have to retire at age 57, assuming they have 20 years of service.
That said, an agency head can choose to allow a law enforcement officer to serve until 60 if the agency head finds that the employee’s service benefits the public interest.
Do You Have More Questions About Pursuing Early Retirement? Give Us a Call Today.
It can be overwhelming to figure out your best options for retirement. And your agency’s human resources department may not have the answers you need.
If you want accurate legal answers rather than vague responses and bureaucratic red tape, contact an experienced federal employment attorney.
With the right legal counsel, you can get a clear picture of your retirement options and prepare your next steps.
Our team at the Federal Employment Law Firm of Aaron D. Wersing is 100% committed to serving federal employees and making their lives easier.
Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our clients to reach their retirement goals and enjoy life after the federal government.
We recognize many people think you need large amounts of cash on hand to even speak to an attorney. That couldn’t be further from the truth.