The following is a question submitted by a Federal Times readers about retirement and other issues facing the federal workforce. It is answered by Reg Jones, a charter member of the senior executive service and a Federal Times columnist since 1995.
Question: I am a 32 year-old recently hired federal employee for U.S. Courts Probation.
My retire plan is FERS FRAE and FICA special.
What does that mean?
I can go at 52 years old for early. How much do I get then compared if I stay to 57?
Reg’s Response: Because you were first hired after December 31, 2013, you were placed in the FERS FRAE retirement system. Those letters translate as Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) Further Revised Annuity Employees (FRAE). FERS FRAE employees have 4.4 percent deducted from their base pay to cover their share of the cost of a retirement benefit.
When an employee meets the age and length of service requirements to retire, that annuity will be calculated using the following formula: 1 percent X the average of the employee’s three highest consecutive years of base pay (the high-3) X years of service. Anyone retiring at age 62 with at least 20 years of service will have a 1.1 percent multiplier used.
While I’m not familiar with the rules governing retirement from the U.S. Courts, most employees of the federal government can retire at their minimum retirement age (MRA) with 30 years of service and receive an unreduced annuity (MRAs range from 55 to 57, depending on the year of birth), age 60 with 20 or age 62 with 5. They can also retire under the MRA + 10 provision (MRA + with at least 10 but fewer than 30 years of service). However, their annuity would be reduced by 5 percent per year (5/12ths of 1 percent per month) that they are under age 62.
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Reg Jones is the resident expert on retirement and the federal government at Federal Times. From 1979 until 1995, he served as an assistant director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management handling recruiting and examining, white and blue collar pay, retirement, insurance and other issues. Opinions expressed are his own.