The retirement age for firefighters is earlier then it is for most jobs. To receive a firefighter’s pension, you must first meet the service and age requirements and leave a covered position Employees preparing for retirement much have completed a minimum of 20 years of service and be at least 50 years of age. Unused sick time is ineligible to go toward the covered service requirement. Military service also, cannot be applied toward time served unless you transition directly from being an active firefighter to the military, and back to the covered employee.
Firefighters who have completed two decades of service preparing for retirement are subject to mandatory separation on the last day of the month they reach their 57th birthday. If it is in the public interest, the mandatory separation may be pushed back until age 60.
Once the 20-year requirement is met, the employee is now of retirement age and does not need to remain in the covered position to receive the firefighter’s pension. The seasoned employee may take a job that isn’t covered to avoid the separation and still be eligible for the 20-year special annuity computation.
The special annuity is based on a more generous calculation. But, the increased benefit does not come without cost. Employees have to contribute to a higher percentage of their salary to the firefighter’s pension than other workers.
The formula used to estimate the special annuity is to take 1.7% of the employees high-3 salary average and multiply the answer by 20 years of service as a firefighter. Next, take one percent of the high-3 and multiply the result times the remaining duration of employment. The starting annuity is the sum of the two. An added perk is that there will be no reduction in the annuity if the employee retires early. The individual will also be eligible for an additional supplement about equal to the Social Security benefit earned under FERS.
CSRS and FERS Service Computation
Firefighters with a minimum of five years of service covered by CSRS prior to FERS will receive the CSRS annuity benefit. This component will be calculated under CSRS rules for firefighters. At the 20-year mark, unused sick time from FERS will be added to your time served to boost your CSRS component value.