Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

GS-08 retirement pay

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Q. My question is regarding special category employees. I’ve heard that over 16,000 employees would be affected by this. If an employee is promoted to GS-08 before he reaches 20 years of service, he would not be entitled to special category retirement pay. Is this true? If it is, what can I do to retire as a special category employee?

A. To be eligible to retire as a firefighter under the enhanced benefit formula, you need to be employed for 20 years in a covered position. While you must start in a primary position, you may later transfer to a secondary position. If being promoted to a GS-08 position would result in your being in a noncovered position before you had accumulated 20 years of covered service, don’t accept the offer.



  1. Dave Maddux Says:
    March 31st, 2010 at 10:36 am

    We have a couple of fire captains (GS-8) who have been affected by this. It doesn’t have much to to with primary/secondary positions though. According to Title 5, the burden of proving I’m a special category retiree is on me. It specifies that I must list years, fires fought, (by name) and other such nonsense. To address this the Secretary of the Navy (endorsed by the Undersecretary of Defense) wrote a letter to HRO authorizing blanket coverage of all positions up to GS-7. The letter was written in 1994 and has not been updated since the upgrade.
    Apparently, HRO and OPM are following Title 5 (literally…to the letter. Anyone who would like a copy of the letter, I’ll see if there’s not somewhere I can post it. I have it in scanned PDF.