Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Break in service

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Q. I am a Defense Department civilian under FERS. I have nine years of service. I plan to take a break in service to finish a graduate degree program (actually resign). I plan on being hired again (probably four to eight months later) at a higher grade and working another two to three years. Is there any significant impact to any retirement related issues? Loss of Thrift Savings Plan, reduced benefits?

A. The only retirement-related impact would be that you’d have to work longer before retiring to make up for the period when you weren’t employed. If you were enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program when you left and re-enrolled when you returned, you wouldn’t have to restart the five-year requirement to carry that coverage into retirement.


  1. mary.smith Says:
    August 6th, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    you should just ask for the time in LWOP, instead of resignation . . . and make other decisions afterward. yes, management has to agree to the lwop, but if your education, which you are acquiring on your own, is in their best interests, they would probably be agreeable. this is what i did to finish a degree sooner.

  2. Pat M Says:
    August 7th, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    He can also ask for a Leave of Absence to finish the degree. If the Agency is willing, he can use his A/L and then LWOP until the period is over, then return to his job. The way jobs are so tight right now, I sure wouldn’t count on immediately being rehired after resigning, no matter what your skills are.