What Does Federal Retirement Readiness Mean?

federal retirement readinessIs it a state of mind? Perhaps it’s a specific age or a certain amount in a retirement account. Maybe you felt ready to retire on your second day on the job; however, retirement readiness encompasses more than just no longer having to work. Truly being ready to retire includes both financial and emotional aspects. Both sides of the coin are equally important and, in many ways, interdependent. Not having the financial component of retirement in order will certainly impact the non-financial side of retirement. At Retirement Benefits Institute, we’ve developed a retirement readiness quiz to help federal employees gauge federal retirement readiness.


For federal employees, the financial side of retirement readiness can be broken down into seven retirement readiness statements. Over the coming months we’ll address each of these seven statements and the aspect of federal retirement each one addresses. The first of these statements is, “I have accurately calculated my service history for retirement purposes.”


If you worked for the federal government in a temporary, seasonal, or co-op position, you may not be receiving retirement credit for that time. If you were paying into your retirement system, generally FERS, you should be getting both retirement eligibility and credit for that time for annuity computation. Temporary, seasonal, or co-op employment in which you were not paying into the retirement system, is called non-deduction service. Typically, you would not get retirement eligibility or annuity computation credit for that time.

If you were not paying into FERS, you may be able to make a deposit for this time and receive both retirement eligibility and annuity computation credit. See FERS non-deduction service for more on this topic.


Did you serve in the military before beginning your federal career? Generally, you automatically receive leave credit for military time, but do not automatically receive retirement eligibility. Federal employees can typically make a deposit for military time and receive credit for that service. Be aware that if you buy back military time, you must waive the military pension.

Click here to learn more about military service.


Any breaks from federal service will affect your years of service. For instance, if you worked for the federal government for a time, left federal service to work in the private sector, and later returned to federal employment, there are two questions you need to ask yourself.

  1. “Did I take my retirement contributions when I left federal employment?”
  2. If you answered, “Yes” to the first question, ask yourself, “Did I make a redeposit into my retirement system when I returned to federal employment?” If you answered “Yes” to this question as well, you generally will receive credit for your original period of federal employment.

For more on how breaks in service affect your retirement, see FERS refunded service.


Hopefully you are feeling better about federal retirement readiness statement number one. Your service history can be confusing but is vital to a confident retirement. We have known cases where federal employees were not eligible to retire when they thought and even had to return to work. This is not a situation you want to happen to you! We hope we’ve given you the tools to say with confidence, “I have accurately calculated my service history for retirement purposes.”

Soon, we’ll explore federal retirement readiness statement number two.

Find out if you are ready to retire. Take the retirement readiness quiz as the next step on your journey to federal retirement.