Should I Retire or Keep Working?

Should I retire now or keep working to get 20 years of service? How much would I lose in retirement by leaving earlier?

Q: I am 69 years old and I have been with this government agency for 15 years, originally starting as a part-time employee.

My question is should I try to work and get 20 years. I am in excellent health and love my job. Or, should I retire in 2 years at 73. What would I lose in retirement or would I be fully vested and get my full retirement due to my age?

A: You identify a quandary in which many federal employees find themselves. If you love what you do, you may not want to retire right now. However, every day you work is one less day you are retired. Folks who don’t really like what they do don’t have this problem; unless they financially need to keep working, they are likely to retire as soon as they can. You can best deal with this side of your inquiry, but I’ll take a look at what it means to you financially in the next paragraph.

You are basically looking at the difference between retiring after 17 years and 20 years. For this example, I will assume that your high-three is $100,000; I like to use round numbers. If you retired with 17 years of service, your unreduced pension would be $17,000 per year. If you waited until 20 years, it would be $22,000. $3,000 of this annual difference is due to the fact that federal employees who retire with 20 or more years of service at the age of 62 or older receive 1.1% of their high-three for each year of service, while those who do not meet these criteria receive 1% of their high-three for each year of service.

Ultimately, the decision of when to retire is a push-pull between money (pension) and time (retirement), and different people make different decisions.

Agencies can request to have John Grobe, or another of Federal Career Experts' qualified instructors, deliver a retirement or transition seminar to their employees. FCE instructors are not financial advisers and will not sell or recommend financial products to class participants. Agency Benefits Officers can contact John Grobe at to discuss schedules and costs.

About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a firm that provides pre-retirement training and seminars to a wide variety of federal agencies. FCE’s instructors are all retired federal retirement specialists who educate class participants on the ins and outs of federal retirement and benefits; there is never an attempt to influence participants to invest a certain way, or to purchase any financial products. John and FCE specialize in retirement for special category employees, such as law enforcement officers.