During her swearing-in ceremony, Kiran Ahuja, new director of the OPM, said this about the main issues facing federal employees: discussions on how we are replenishing our federal workforce, the conversations to have and problems to be solved abound.
From the growing number of emails I receive asking for information about deferred or deferred retirement benefits, it appears some employees may not be returning to their offices to help with this overhaul. Some are considering early retirement or a transition out of federal service to complete their careers.
Here is a typical scenario:
I would like to obtain information regarding deferred retirement. I have 20 years of federal service under FERS but I am only 49 years old. I am thinking of retiring now and postponing my retirement allowance until age 57. Will there be a pay cut because I retire at 49 instead of waiting until 57? What forms do I need to fill out to retire now?
Here is another one:
I am writing to you because I am starting to speak with private sector employers and there is a good chance that I will be able to retire early when I reach the minimum retirement age (56 years and 2 months). I currently have about 25 years of federal service. I would continue to receive the deferred / postponed retirement benefit and reinstate health insurance when I apply at age 60. I plan to use insurance from any company I join until I am 60 years old. My question is what do I want to do to make sure this happens before I leave the federal government, including what forms do I need to make sure I get and keep copies?
If you are on the Federal Employee Pension Plan and are considering leaving federal service before qualifying for retirement with immediate retirement benefits or postponing your retirement, here are a few things to know:
- In order to be eligible for deferred retirement, you will need to complete at least five years of eligible civilian service. Your benefit will begin on the first day of the month after the age of 62.
- If you complete at least 10 years of eligible service, including five years of civilian service, then you are eligible for a deferred pension from the first day of the month following the minimum retirement age.
- Your deferred pension is based on length of service and the high average salary in effect when you leave federal service. You will be entitled to a benefit calculated at 1% of your high average salary for each year of service.
- You will begin to receive cost of living adjustments on your deferred retirement benefits once you are over 62.
- Former employees who receive a deferred or deferred pension are not eligible for the retirement pension supplement.
- If you have already reached your MRA and you have at least 10 years of service, you can separate but postpone the payment of your retirement pension to avoid a reduction in age.
- Most of your insurance benefits such as health, dental and vision insurance, and life insurance will end when you separate without claiming immediate retirement benefits.
There will be no form to file until you are ready to apply for your deferred pension. Your departure will be treated as a resignation, but Form SF 50, Notification of Staff Action, will indicate that you are entitled to a deferred or deferred retirement in the remarks portion of the form.
Form RI 92-19 is used to request a deferred or deferred FERS retirement benefit. Instructions for this form are available in the complementary brochure RI 92-19a. You must file the request directly with the Personnel Management Office 60 days prior to the start of your monthly pension.
It is a good idea to request a retirement estimate for deferred or deferred retirement from your agency’s human resources office before leaving the federal public service. This will give you an idea of the value of this benefit at the time you are entitled to receive it.
If you are married at the start of your pension, it will be calculated with a reduction to provide a maximum survivor pension (50 percent of your unreduced pension) for your spouse upon your death. You can choose to provide a partial survivor pension (25 percent of your unreduced pension) or no survivor pension; however, you must obtain the consent of your spouse.
If you leave federal service, but die before receiving your deferred or deferred retirement, a survivor pension would be payable to your spouse if they were married to you at the time of your separation and you had 10 or more years of qualifying service. (and did not request reimbursement of your pension contributions). Your surviving spouse may choose to receive a lump sum payment of your pension contributions instead of a survivor pension.
You must keep personal copies of certain documents deposited in your electronic Official Personal File, as you will immediately lose access to this file after your separation. These include:
- FERS beneficiary designation form (SF 3102)
- SF-50 forms showing federal service appointments, previous terminations, changes in your work schedule, changes in your pension coverage, and changes in salary in the last three (or more) years of service. service, as they will be used to calculate your average salary above three for your future retirement benefit.
- FEGLI forms if you retire with immediate retirement, including SF 2817 (Choice of Life Insurance) and SF 2823 (Designation of Beneficiary).
- SF 2809 FEHBP Election Forms.
If you are considering employment related to your government job or possibly returning to federal service at a later date, you may wish to retain information regarding training, duty stations, security clearances, pay, and positions held. during your career.
The pandemic has turned our lives upside down and made us think about our priorities. There is a big difference between a retirement with immediate, unreduced retirement based on a full career of federal service and a reduced or postponed deferred retirement. So make sure you think about it before you step out of government.