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5 Things to Know About Phased Retirement


I’m happy to report that the Office of Personnel Management last month issued its final phased retirement regulations. I know that many agencies and federal employees are eager to take advantage of this new, innovative alternative to traditional retirement.

I think that this new policy, once it is in effect, will meets the needs of employees while allowing managers to continue to tap into the experience, the wisdom and the judgment of our talented federal workforce. Like any policy, it will come with many questions, so let me try to address some of them today.

1. What is it?

Under phased retirement, a full-time employee will be able to work part time and start collecting retirement benefits. Phased retirees must also spend 20 percent of their time mentoring their fellow employees as a way for them to pass on their knowledge and skills to their colleagues. OPM will begin accepting phased retirement applications on Nov. 6.

2. Who can participate?

This is not a one-size-fits-all program. Whether you are eligible will depend on which retirement system you belong to and how many years of service you have.  

3. What do I do if I want to participate?

If you are interested, the first thing to do is to talk to your manager and/or your human resources office to see if this is an option for you. Assuming you are eligible, you can fill out an application. Once your agency approves it, OPM will process it.

4. How are my benefits handled during phased retirement?

Phased retirees will still get health benefits under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and will still be enrolled in the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance program. You and your agency will continue to pay the same shares of the premiums. But in the case of benefits such as pay and leave, a phased retiree will be treated like a part-time employee. 

5. If I am participating in phased retirement, what are my options to end phased retirement?

You and your agency will decide together how long you want to continue as a phased retiree, the timing of your full retirement and whether you want to ask to return to work full time.

Remember, if you think phased retirement is for you, talk to your manager. Many more details about the plan can be found at

To me, this program is a win-win. Employees can design a smooth transition into the next phase of their lives, and agencies across government can get a head start on succession planning. 

So I hope all federal employees will review the details of this new program. Think about it. Talk with loved ones. And as always, thank you to all of our federal employees for the work you do for the American people each and every day. 

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Katherine Archuleta is former director of the Office of Personnel Management. She is the first Latina to lead the agency and has dedicated herself to being a champion of a diverse, engaged and inclusive federal workforce. Archuleta began her career in public service as a school teacher in Denver. She has worked for two Denver mayors, founded nonprofit organizations and was a key administrator for the departments of Transportation, Energy and Labor.

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