Posted on Saturday, 8th June 2013 by

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The new phased retirement program will permit those eligible to gradually work their way into full retirement. If they don’t like what they see they can opt out and return to full time, can’t ask for much more than that plus phased retirement will increase your annuity when you do decide to pull the plug.   

OPM issued proposed phased retirement guidelines on June 5th 2013 and comments are due back to OPM by August 5th.  The proposed regulations inform agencies and employees about who may elect phased retirement, what benefits are provided in phased retirement, how an annuity is computed during and after phased retirement, and how employees fully retire from phased retirement.

Phased retirement permits an individual to retire from part of his or her employment, while continuing employment on a part-time basis and continuing to earn additional retirement benefits proportionately based upon the additional part-time employment. An eligible employee who enters phased retirement, which requires the approval of an authorized agency official, will work half-time and will receive one half of what his or her annuity would have been had the individual retired completely from Federal service. During phased retirement, he or she is a part-time employee, not a reemployed annuitant.

Phased retirement will encourage the most experienced Federal employees to continue part time, and will operate as a tool to ensure continuity of operations for agencies. The main purpose of phased retirement is to enhance mentoring and training of the employees who will be filling the positions of more experienced employees who are preparing for full retirement. It is intended to encourage experienced employees to remain, in at least a part-time capacity, while less experienced employees are preparing to assume the duties of the employees who are planning to retire.

A person who enters phased retirement (hereafter a “phased retiree,”) would receive more income than he or she would earn by simply changing to a part-time work schedule or by simply retiring, while continuing to share knowledge and expertise with the next generation of Federal leaders via mentoring and role-modeling. Once these individuals fully retire, they will be entitled to a greater annuity than if they had fully retired at the time of transition to phased retirement, but less than if they had continued employment on a full-time basis.

Participation is entirely voluntary, and requires the mutual consent of both the employee and employing agency. An employee does not have an entitlement to phased retirement. In order to participate, an individual must have been employed on a full-time basis for the preceding three years. Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), the individual must be eligible for immediate retirement with at least 30 years of service at age 55, or with 20 years of service at age 60. Under the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS), the individual must be eligible for immediate retirement with at least 30 years of service at MRA (minimum retirement age, which ranges between age 55 and 57 depending upon year of birth), or with 20 years of service at age 60.

The law provides that employees subject to mandatory retirement (including Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters, Nuclear Materials Couriers, Air Traffic Controllers, Customs and Border Protection Officers, or members of the Capitol Police or Supreme Court Police) may not participate. However, certain employees who are exempt from mandatory separation and retirement (such as Customs and Border Protection Officers exempted from mandatory retirement when special retirement provisions for Customs and Border Protection Officers were first enacted) may participate. This exemption does not apply to individuals for whom mandatory retirement has been waived, but only to individuals not subject to mandatory retirement by statute.

You can review the entire OPM proposal by visiting our phased retirement page and clicking on the link.  More to come as comments are reviewed and final regulations issued hopefully later this year.

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The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and financial information is subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact your benefits coordinator and ask them to review your official personnel file and circumstances concerning this issue. Retirees can contact the OPM retirement center. Our article is not intended nor should it be considered investment advice and our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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