ATC Special Provisions Retirement vs. Vision 100 Retirement

vision 100Federal employees who serve as Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) enjoy somewhat different retirement benefits when compared to typical federal employees. Although the basic elements of a pension, the Special Retirement Supplement, Social Security, and the TSP remain the same, an ATC’s pension is calculated differently. Plus, ATCs can typically access SRS and the TSP earlier. An ATC employee can retire sooner and is even subject to a mandatory retirement age of 56; there is no such restriction on regular FERS employees. Some ATC retirees may even be eligible for a slightly different pension calculation known as Vision 100. Below, we’ll discuss what Vision 100 is, who is eligible, and how it differs from regular ATC retirement.

ATC Retirement Calculation

Before one can understand how Vision 100 differs from a typical ATC retirement, a knowledge of what a typical ATC retirement looks like is needed. ATCs can retire under one of the following ages and years of service requirements:

  • Age 50 with 20 years of service
  • Any age with 25 years of service

Notice that with regular ATC retirement, an employee must have reached at least 20 years of covered service as a civilian ATC frontline, or first or second level supervisor.

Assuming an employee meets the above requirements, he or she could retire and the pension would be calculated as seen below:

  • 1.7% x 20 years x Hi-3
  • 1% x rest of years of service x Hi-3

Vision 100 Retirement Calculation

ATCs who reach certain requirements may be eligible for Vision 100 retirement. Vision 100 simply means that they would be subject to a slightly different pension calculation as well as a few additional stipulations we’ll address later. Below is the Vision 100 pension calculation:

  • 1.7% x all years as ATC frontline or 1st or 2nd level supervisor x Hi-3
  • 1% x rest of years of service x Hi-3

Where a typical ATC retirement is calculated at 1.7% for 20 years, a Vision 100 retiree could get the 1.7% for over 20 years of service as an ATC.

Who is eligible for Vision 100?

To qualify for Vision 100, one must have 30 years of creditable FERS service, at least 5 years of ATC frontline service, and have reached Minimum Retirement Age (MRA).

Regular ATC vs Vision100

Aside from the pension calculation, there are few other key differences when considering whether to retire under Vision 100 or regular ATC retirement. In both instances, the retiree is eligible for SRS upon retirement; however, regular ATCs will not be subject to the earnings test until reaching Minimum Retirement Age. Since Vision 100 employees will already have reached Minimum Retirement Age, they will be subject to the earnings test for SRS upon retirement.

Another important difference to be aware of is that regular ATCs will get cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) upon their annuities at retirement. Vision 100 retirees will not receive a COLA on their annuities until age 62. It’s vital to understand this difference when deciding between these two options.