Phased Retirement Watch: Will Your Agency Offer It?

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Eligible federal employees officially could start applying for phased retirement on Nov. 6. But agencies aren’t ready to offer it yet, making that date moot. So far, most agency leaders and human resources managers (though not all) have failed to provide information about when, or if, they will implement a program to allow eligible employees to partially retire while working 20 hours per work and mentoring other workers.

The Office of Personnel Management issued final rules on partial retirement in August, more than two years after Congress passed the law to help federal agencies gain the flexibility to better manage their workforce needs. The reality, though, is that most feds will have a longer wait because individual agencies have to devise their own plans for implementing phased retirement that meet the needs of their missions as well as collective bargaining agreements.

Agencies have broad discretion in deciding how to implement phased retirement, including deciding which jobs are eligible for it, determining mentoring activities and deciding how long an employee can remain partially retired.

We’re tracking agencies that have weighed in on phased retirement so far, and will update this list whenever we have more information to share. Check back here for updates on agencies offering or considering phased retirement, and let us know through the comment section if you have information about your agency. Some of the information here was provided by department spokespeople; other updates are from agency employees.


Phased Retirement Time Line

Rural Development (Agriculture)

According to one employee, his HR office told him that “Rural Development will inform all employees of their possible participation and requirements for phased retirement,” but did not provide any details or time frame for implementation


From a spokesman: The department expects that Defense employees can begin submitting applications for phased retirement in early 2015.


From an employee: DOE has told us that it won’t be available until February 2015. HR managers in a field office in Illinois have briefed employees on eligibility and some proposals, including allowing workers to partially retire for up to two years, with a possibility of extending it to a third year.

Health and Human Services

From an official departmentwide email: HHS plans to offer phased retirement but not until early 2016. The department said the delay is because it first needs to talk to unions, train employees and managers on PR, upgrade retirement benefits technology and implement a new employee travel management system. “We will post updates on the department’s intranet along with frequently asked questions and answers,” the email said. 

Homeland Security

From an employee at the department’s Citizenship and Immigration Services: Employees received an email in the summer, stating that the department had to come up with its own plan before eligible workers could apply for phased retirement. The email didn’t specify when that would happen.

Social Security Administration

An Aug. 15 email to SSA’s Chicago region managers from human resources said that if the agency decides to offer phased retirement, it won’t do so until 2015 or later. “The regulations require agencies to take many preparatory steps, including fulfilling their labor obligations, before a program can actually be implemented,” said the email. 

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