By Reg Jones
Q. I spent eight years active duty in the Air Force as a physician in the late 1990s. I would like to end my career practicing at the VA. I am 59 years old. If I work at the VA for 11 years, I will only have 19 years of federal service. Will I be entitled to any federal government pension? Must I work a full 20 years for the Fed? Will that effect the Social Security funds that I have contributed to for the past 25 years?
A. Any employee who has at least five years of creditable federal service is eligible for an unreduced annuity at age 62. You could also retire under the MRA+10 provision (minimum retirement age with at least 10 but fewer than 30 years of service). However, your annuity would be reduced by five percent for every year (5/12 percent per month) that you were under age 62 when you retired. You could reduce the age penalty by postponing the receipt of your annuity to a later date.
Your annuity would be based on your 11 years of actual FERS service or, if you made a deposit to get credit for your active duty service, 19 years. In either case, your annuity would be computed using this formula: .01 x (your high-3) x (your years and full months of service).
Whether you retired at age 62 or under the MRA+10 provision, you wouldn’t be eligible for the special retirement supplement, which approximates the Social Security benefit you earned while a FERS employee. On the other hand, beginning at age 62, you’d be entitled to a Social Security benefit based on all your Social Security covered employment.