When Can Federal Employees Retire

Federal employees often ask when they can retire. I heard the question often during my time as a federal employee. Some people enjoy their job and will work until they’re not able. Others want to maximize their benefits and work until they feel comfortable with their benefit amount. There are also people who want to retire as soon as possible while maintaining their lifestyle in retirement. No matter what your approach is, the answer to the question of when you can retire, depends on you.

At Sentinel Financial Planning, we base the answer to the retirement question on your specific situation. We understand that your goals and desires are different than other peoples. We help our clients determine when they can retire, how to reach their financial goals, and what steps to take to reach their goals.


For FERS employees whose goal is to retire from federal service as soon as possible, here are some things to keep in mind. The earliest you can retire from federal service is your Minimum Retirement Age (MRA). Your MRA will depend on the year you were born, and ranges from age 55 to 57. In addition to your age, you’ll also need to have the specific years of service. Without the correct years of service, you might have your benefits reduced.

Additionally, if you retire before age 62 you might not be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. FERS does have a supplement they might pay, however, for Social Security purposes you will not be at full retirement age. Depending on your circumstances you may want to plan how to fill the income gap between age 62 and full retirement age, which might be 67.


For FERS employees whose goal is to maximize their benefits, you might work until age 70. At age 70 Social Security benefits stop increasing, even if you delay taking the benefits. Waiting to retire until age 70 will help increase your FERS annuity. To get an idea of what your FERS annuity might be, you can use the high-3 calculation. If you’re over age 62 with 20 years or more of service, you’re usually eligible for 1.1% of your high-3 for each year of service.


For FERS employees who don’t see themselves retiring, you’re able to work as long as you’re capable. You’ll continue to build your years of service and your benefit amount continues to increase. However, you may be paying a qualitative price by not retiring. There is something to be said about enjoying the fruits of your labor and taking time for yourself. While everyone values things differently, few people remember someone based on their time spent working. Family, friends, and charities can be a fulfilling alternative to working.


Whether you retire as soon as possible, maximize your benefits, or continue to work, always ensure your beneficiaries are up to date. Now is a good time to review your TSP, FERS, and FEGLI beneficiaries. Especially if you’ve married, divorced, or had a child since you last reviewed your beneficiaries.


We know thinking about retirement can make you feel nervous or anxious. If there’s anything you’re unsure about, we’re happy to help you create a plan. At Sentinel Financial Planning, LLC we walk alongside you during every aspect of your life, even the transition from work to retirement. If you’d like to learn more about our retirement, investment, and financial planning process, reach out to us at mark@sentinelfp.com or (443) 906-1565 to schedule an appointment today.


Mark Humphries, CFP® is the owner and financial advisor at Sentinel Financial Planning, a boutique, veteran-owned and operated investment management and financial planning firm. Mark focuses on helping federal government employees, military members, and business owners manage their investments and plan for retirement. As a former military service member and federal employee with over 10 years in the financial industry, he is familiar with the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and is uniquely qualified to serve his clientele.

Before working in the financial industry, Mark was enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999 to 2003, during which he became familiar with the challenges military service members and their families face, especially during deployments. After seven years of working in the financial industry, Mark launched Sentinel Financial Planning to provide a better way for federal employees and small business owners to find reliable financial planning solutions. In addition to the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Central Florida and a master’s degree in personal financial planning from Kansas State University.

Outside the office, Mark enjoys boating, fishing, hunting, and collegiate sports. Additionally, he is a member of the National Association of Professional Financial Advisors, XY Planning Network, Anne Arundel County Pension Oversight Commission, Naval Academy Primary School Board of Trustees, and Warrior Events Board of Directors. To learn more about Mark, connect with him on LinkedIn.