Published: March 2020
By: Vanessa Craddock, Federal Benefits Specialist
Do you have at least 10 years of government service? You may wonder what benefits you have earned at this point and what to expect for the second part of your career. The following are 5 frequently asked questions and answers you may find helpful.
1. I’ve heard FERS employees need only 10 years of service to be eligible to retire? True?
Answer: True if you have reached your Minimum Retirement Age (MRA)—an age based on your birth year. If you were born 1970 or later, your MRA is 57.
2. If I were to leave the government tomorrow at age 43, with 10 years of service, what government benefits could I keep?
Answer: With at least 10 years of service, retirement could start at MRA. If you die before eligibility, a survivor annuity may be payable to your spouse. You keep your TSP savings, Federal long-term care if you continue to pay, and HSA funds. Or you may withdraw your FERS contributions after you separate. In this case, no future retirement benefits will be payable.
3. I’m single. To whom can I leave benefits if I pass away mid-career?
Answer: Single or married, you should complete the following designation of beneficiary forms: SF 3102, SF 1152, SF 2823, TSP 3 to leave to whom you please.
4. How can I use military service to increase my Federal benefits?
Answer: You can pay a military service deposit through your agency. Military years would then be credited as additional FERS years of service. See your HR benefits personnel for details, the sooner the better.
5. I don’t expect Social Security retirement to be around in the future, but if I die young, can my spouse draw widow’s benefits?
Answer: Possibly. Widow/widower benefits are generally payable at age 60 if your spouse has not remarried before that age. However, if your spouse has your dependent children under age 16 in his/her care, a young parent benefit may be payable. Also, FERS would pay an immediate survivor benefit to your spouse.
Download the Mid-Career Checklist HERE.
Ms. Craddock is retired from OPM; her last position was as Senior Federal Benefits Specialist. She designed, developed and instructed a variety of courses: CSRS and FERS Employee Benefits, technical training for health benefits and life insurance, disability retirement and worker’s compensation. She has been a presenter for NITP since 2000.