What Is the FERS Minimum Retirement Age?
For decades, when people talk about retirement age, they generally talk about age 65. This is when most people can draw full Social Security benefits. For federal government employees, their retirement age is significantly less.
What Is the Minimum Retirement Age for Federal Employees?
The Federal Employees Retirement System, or FERS, has a minimum retirement age, or MRA, that is less than 65. The MRA establishes the youngest age at which a federal employee may retire.
For much of the federal workforce, their MRA is 57. Employees who were born before 1970 can retire a little earlier. Precisely how much earlier depends on how old they are. The lowest MRA is 55 for people born before 1948.
Like many retirement systems, FERS uses the rule of 80. This rule states that in order to be eligible for retirement an employee must reach a combined 80 years when adding age and federal service. Upon examination of this rule, it is easy to see why FERS has the MRA.
Example of How the FERS Minimum Retirement Age Works
Here is an example of how the FERS MRA works. Say an employee begins federal service right after college at age 22. After 29 years of service, the employee reaches age 51. The employee satisfies the rule of 80; however, the employee has not reached the minimum retirement age. At an MRA of 57, the employee has six more years until retirement eligibility. Assuming our example employee wants to retire as soon as he or she is eligible, FERS gains six more years of retirement contributions from this employee and forgoes six years of annuity payments to this employee by forcing employees to wait until age 57.
At age 51, retirement is tempting. An employee can chose to do something different and have enough time to make a real career out of it. At age 57, retirement is still tempting, but many employees choose to ride out federal service until retiring sometime in their early 60s. The Social Security Administration allows citizens to take early retirement at age 62, so 62 is a popular retirement age among public servants at all levels of government.