Are there different requirements to obtain retirement benefits based on the type of federal service?

By Carolyn Grimes
November 30, 2016

You have to have 20 years in to get a military pension and 20 years in to get a Foreign Service pension, whereas the federal civilian ones don't have the 20-year requirement. In the civilian ones, you cannot draw your pension until you reach a certain age, which is different than the military and the Foreign Service. For both of them, as soon as you retire you can start drawing your pension, and you can draw a military pension at age 38 – if you went in at 18 and you have 20 years in – whereas with most federal civilian pensions, you really can't start drawing them until you're 60. There's a formula: in 30 years you have to be at least 55 years of age. Most people don't start drawing them until they're in their 60s, because you get shorted on them if you draw them while you're younger.

Carolyn Grimes is a family lawyer at the law firm of Wade Grimes Friedman Sutter & Leischner PLLC in Alexandria, Virginia. To learn more about Grimes and her firm, visit

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November 30, 2016
Categories:  FAQs

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