Retirement options, and your nest egg
- By Milt x_Zall
- Sep 13, 2002
More CSRS information
A Reader Writes:
I would like to know my options for retirement at age 51 and 23 years
service. I am under the Civil Service Retirement System.
Ordinarily, you must have at least 30 years of service and have attained
age 55 to be eligible for a regular retirement under CSRS.
Following are some exceptions:
If your agency undergoes a major reorganization, a reduction in force
or a transfer of function, and if a significant percentage of the agency's
employees will be separated or reduced in pay, the head of your agency can
ask the Office of Personnel Management to permit early optional retirement
for eligible employees. By permitting early optional retirement, OPM can
lessen the impact of involuntary separations and demotions.
If the head of your agency gets approval from OPM to permit early optional
retirements, eligible employees will be notified of the opportunity to retire
Another contingency is discontinued service retirement because of an
In both cases, if you have at least 25 years of service, or you are
at least age 50 and have as much as 20 years of service, you will be entitled
to an immediate annuity. (The annuity is reduced by 2 percent for each year
you are under age 55.) At least five years of your service must be civilian
service, and you must have been employed under CSRS for at least one year
out of the last two years preceding retirement.
Regarding involuntary separation, the most common cause is a reduction
in force. However, employees who decline reasonable offers of other positions
are not eligible for discontinued service annuities.
A "reasonable offer" is defined as the offer of another position in
your agency and commuting area for which you are qualified and which is
no more than two grades or pay levels below your current grade or pay level.
If you decline such an offer and resign, you will not qualify for discontinued
Another frequent cause for an involuntary separation is when the location
of an office or unit is moved to an area outside the commuting area of the
old work site. As a general rule, if the new work site is in a different
commuting area, and if you would have to change your place of residence
in order to work at the new job site, then your separation for failure to
relocate to the new work location would be a qualifying separation for retirement
A Reader Offers Some Advice:
After reading last week's column, I find I'm in a similar situation. However, I placed the
maximum legal amount into my Thrift Savings Plan account. When I retire
in January, my TSP nest egg will be sufficient to pay out from more than
$125,000, thanks to the dot-com boom and today's bond market.
I receive about $1,500 per month in my account. With four months to
go, that adds more than $6,000 to my retirement for the $125,000 and change.
I am a retired (20 years) Navy chief and an about-to-retire GS-11. I've
paid into Social Security since 1955 and will draw the maximum next August.
The person mentioned in your column just did not watch their money,
or they ignored TSP altogether. If you have a system available, put your
eggs in one basket and WATCH THAT BASKET, period.
Zall is a retired federal employee who since 1987 has written the Bureaucratus
column for Federal Computer Week. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.