By Reg Jones
Q. I am a federal law enforcement officer and currently have 22 years of service. I’ll turn 46 in March of this year. I also have five years of Marine Corps time that I was active duty.
I understand the rule that I can retire at any age with 25 years of creditable service or retire at age 50 with 20 years of service. I will fall into the 25 year rule, since I will be less that 50 when I am eligible. I know I am supposed to get a Social Security bridge when I retire until my regular Social Security age. I am not sure if that age is 57, mandatory retirement for LE or is it 62, 70 or some other number.
I am also confused about the amount of money I can earn, such as through consulting work or private business, when I retire and still maintain my supplement.
I am also confused that if I leave my current law enforcement job with 22 years and start working for another federal agency will I be mandated to retire at 57? When I do retire, will my computation be a law enforcement computation or a regular federal employee computation?
A. First let me correct a misunderstanding. You can only retire at any age if you have 25 years of covered law enforcement service. Active duty service for which you’ve made a deposit doesn’t count toward meeting that requirement.
If you moved to a non-covered position, you wouldn’t be subject to mandatory retirement. When you did retire, 20 years of law enforcement-covered service would be calculated using the enhanced formula; all other service, covered or not, would be calculated using the standard formula.
Moving on. Law enforcement officers, firefighters and air traffic controllers can receive the special retirement supplement when they retire and up to age 62. Before they reach their minimum retirement age, they can earn as much as they want from outside employment without it affecting the SRS. However, when they reach their MRA, they are subject to the same earnings limit as all other retirees receiving the SRS.
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