Civil Service Retirement System Requirements

The Civil Service Retirement System, or CSRS, was created in 1920 to provide retirement benefits for government workers. Those participating in the program did not pay Social Security taxes. Instead, they funded an annuity to provide retirement income directly from their paystubs. The majority of civil servants in the retirement system joined prior to 1984 when a second retirement option became available which is called the Federal Employment Retirement System. To collect pension benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System, participants must meet certain criteria outlined in the following.

Optional Retirement

This is the standard type of retirement option available to those in the Civil Service Retirement System. For retirees at age 62, only five years of government service are required. At age 60, retirees must have 20 years of service. Optional retirement is available to 55-year-old retirees with 30 years of service. There are no special requirements of service once the retiree reaches the required age and years of service.

Special Optional Retirement

It is possible to receive benefits from the Civil Service Retirement System at age 50 with 20 years of service. There are special requirements that must be met. Also, retirees must be leaving the service under the guidelines established for air traffic controllers, police officers or firefighters. Additionally, after 25 years of service, air traffic controllers can retire at any age.

Early Optional Retirement

There are also special retirement requirements for federal workers whose government agencies were absorbed by another agency, faced personnel cuts or were reorganized. For those workers, retirement under the CSRS is allowed at any age after 25 years of service, and after age 50 with 20 years of service. For those who retire before age 55, there will be a reduction in the pension annuity available under the system.

Discontinued Service

If a government worker is involuntarily separated from service, and there was no misconduct, they can retire at age 50, with 20 years of service. Or, they can retire at any age after with 25 years of service.

Disability Retirement

A federal employee can retire and participate in the Civil Service Retirement System at any age after five years of service if the retirement is related to a disability under certain circumstances. The disability must disquialify you for what the government calls “useful and efficient” service in your particular job. You must also be disqualified from useful and efficient service in any other available government position.

The disability must be affecting you prior to retirement. You must be out of work for one year. Also, there must be no misconduct in order to qualify for disability.