Air Force civilians are now eligible for phased retirement and taking a “semi-retired” status at the Department of Defense. The program is part of the DOD-wide initiative to give civilian workers the option to work on a part time basis and receive a portion of their retirement annuity. The phased retirement time frame lasts for one year with the option to extend it for an additional year.
Participation is voluntary. To participate, those interested must have been employees for at least three consecutive years. Phased retirement gives retirees an opportunity to work less and use their expertise to mentor younger employees.
A human resources specialist at the Air Force Personnel Center, Annette Castro, said, “This program allows dedicated employees with decades of experience to pass on critical knowledge to our other employees in the organization. It serves as a mentoring and training tool to ensure the next generation of civilians are prepared for success. Institutional knowledge is often difficult to replace.”
Phased retirees must mentor employees at least 20 percent of their working hours.
DOD civilian employees have been asking for the phased retirement policy. The department currently has about 77,000 employees in CSRS/FERS that are eligible for retirement.
Taiwanna Smith, Chief of Benefits and Work-Life Programs for the Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service said, “We worked really hard to develop the policy. What we did is establish a working group from several of the components and we came up with recommendations for the program requirements, the application procedures, the criteria for approval, and the criteria for denying requests. Basically, we looked at everything that would be necessary to implement the program.”
The department plans to gradually work in phased retirement into other areas.
Along with phased retirement, Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay (VSIP) is an option for DOD employees. Last year, Congress approved a program that increased VSIP pay for DOD civilians from $25,000 to $40,000 for one year.
The House Armed Services Committee wants to extend that incentive to 2021.
They offer early retirement to positions that aren’t needed anymore or are in less demand so they can hire employees for more needed positions.