Should I Retire Early or Go on Federal Disability Retirement?

by | Jan 2, 2023

Last Updated February 7, 2023

This is a question that we see all the time. Federal employees who are eligible for an early MRA+ 10 retirement wonder why they should go through the trouble of applying for Federal Disability Retirement when they could just retire now.

But Federal Disability Retirement usually ends up being worth the extra effort and it can help you maximize your income in retirement.

You shouldn’t have to struggle in your job due to a disability. We want you to be aware of all your options for retirement so you can make the best decision for your future.


If you have at least ten years of service and have met your minimum retirement age (MRA), you are eligible for an MRA+10 retirement. This would allow you to retire now but with a few differences from a regular FERS retirement.

If you retire under an MRA +10 your retirement benefit will be reduced by 5 percent a year for each year you are under 62, and you can continue your health and life insurance if you do not postpone your annuity payments.

If you postpone the beginning date of your annuity, the age reduction can be reduced or completely eliminated. Meaning you can still retire now but you would not receive your annuity payments until you elect to, which would allow you to wait until age 62 when you could receive the full amount.

You will be able to reinstate your health and life insurance once your annuity payments start.

Keep in mind that MRA +10 is not disability specific, and any eligible federal employee can take an MRA +10 retirement.

Calculating Minimum Retirement Age

In order to retire early, you must meet your minimum retirement age, which depends on the year you were born.

You can look at this chart to find your minimum retirement age.

Birth year  MRA 
Before 1948  55 
1948  55, 2 months 
1949  55, 4 months 
1950  55, 6 months 
1951  55, 8 months 
1952  55, 10 months 
1953 to 1964  56 
1965  56, 2 months 
1966  56, 4 months 
1967  56, 6 months 
1968  56, 8 months 
1969  56, 10 months 
After 1969  57 


Federal Disability Retirement

Federal Disability Retirement on the other hand provides you the option to retire now but it also provides a monthly annuity, creditable years of service, the option to maintain your health and life insurance, and the ability to work in the private sector.

Once you turn age 62 your Federal Disability Retirement automatically transfers into your regular FERS retirement, like you never left the federal service.

Since you will continue to gain creditable years of service until age 62, your regular FERS pension will increase a lot more than if you had retired early and lost those additional years.

You will also be able to work in the private sector to make even more money than you were while in your federal position.

Learn more about qualifying for Federal Disability Retirement.

Which Option is Better for You?

Both of these options can help a disabled federal employee retire early and ease the stress of working through a disability.

Federal Disability Retirement can provide you with more income in retirement, especially if you are able to work in the private sector.

You can keep your insurance on both MRA+10 retirement (as long as you do not postpone your annuity) and Federal Disability Retirement. Insurance options are important to consider especially when treating a disability or when you have family members on your plan.

Example Federal Employee

We will look at an example federal employee from age 56 to age 75 to determine which benefit will produce the most income in the long run.

John was born in 1966 and is 56 years old. He has worked in the government for 15 years and has a high 3 average of $100,000. He is struggling in his job due to a disability and since he has reached his minimum retirement age, he is wondering whether to apply for Federal Disability Retirement or take an MRA+10.


To calculate John’s MRA +10 retirement, you would first calculate his regular retirement pension and then subtract his age reduction.

Regular FERS Retirement:

High 3  Years of Service  Multiplied by  Annuity 
$100,000  15  1%  $15,000 


MRA +10 Retirement:

High 3  Years of Service  Multiplied by  Age reduction  Annuity 
$100,000  15  1%  6 years at 5% reduction  $10,500 

At this rate, by age 75, John will have accumulated around $199,500 after taking an MRA+10 retirement.

Federal Disability Retirement

To calculate John’s Federal Disability Retirement, you multiply his high 3 average by 60% for year one and 40% for every year after until age 62.

  High 3  Multiplied by  Annuity 
Year 1  $100,000  60%  $60,000 
Year 2+  $100,000  40%  $40,000 

At age 62 he will begin receiving his regular pension of $15,000.

By age 75, John will have accumulated around $455,000 after taking Federal Disability Retirement.

Which option is best for you really depends on your specific case. It’s important to have an experienced legal team on your side to help you make the best decision for your future.

Our firm has helped over 6,000 employees apply for Federal Disability Retirement and we have seen how this benefit can completely change the lives of so many federal employees.

Schedule a FREE consultation today to learn how we can help.

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