Plan 2 and 3: Thinking about retiring early?

Last Updated June 2016
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As a Plan 2 or Plan 3 member of the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS), School Employees' Retirement System (SERS) or Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), you have the option to retire early and begin receiving a monthly benefit once you meet the minimum service requirements. This publication provides information about some of the things you might want to consider before deciding whether early retirement is right for you.

What is my normal retirement age?

Plan 2 members: If you have at least five years of service credit, you are eligible for normal retirement at age 65.

Plan 3 members: If one of the following is true, you are eligible for normal retirement at age 65:

  • You have at least 10 service credit years.
  • You have at least five service credit years and at least 12 service credit months of those five years were earned after age 44.
  • You earned at least five service credit years in Plan 2 and transferred to Plan 3 before the system-specific date below:
    • PERS: June 1, 2003
    • SERS: Sept. 1, 2000
    • TRS: July 1, 1996

How soon can I retire?

In some cases, you can retire at age 62 with a monthly benefit that isn't reduced (see the "Early retirement factors" chart). Retirement before age 65 is considered an early retirement.

  • Plan 2 members: You can retire as early as age 55 with a reduced benefit if you have at least 20 service credit years.
  • Plan 3 members: You can retire as early as age 55 with a reduced benefit if you have at least 10 service credit years.

How does retiring early affect my monthly benefit?

When you retire early, your monthly benefit amount is reduced to reflect that you will be receiving your defined benefit for a longer period of time. The amount of the impact depends on the amount of service credit you have, the date you retire, your age and the early retirement factor used. (See "Monthly benefit formulas" below.)

  • Plan 2 members: If you retire with between 20 and 30 years of service credit, your monthly benefit is reduced by a factor that is based on your average life expectancy. The reduction is greater than if you retire with at least 30 service credit years.
  • Plan 3 members: If you retire with between 10 and 30 years of service credit, your monthly benefit is reduced by a factor that is based on your average life expectancy. The reduction is greater than if you retire with at least 30 service credit years.

If you retire with at least 30 years of service credit, you can choose one of the following options:

  • A 3 percent Early Retirement Factor (ERF) reduction for each year (prorated monthly) before you turn age 65
  • The 2008 ERF, which provides a smaller benefit reduction but imposes stricter return-to-work rules

Early retirement rules are different for members who are first hired on or after May 1, 2013. At age 55 with 30 years of service credit, your benefit is reduced by 5 percent for each year (prorated monthly) before you turn age 65. See the table below.

Early Retirement Factors Table
Retirement Age At least 10
or 20 years of service credit1
30 years or more of service credit
(prorated monthly)
3% ERF 2008 ERF 5% ERF2
55 0.365 0.70 0.80 0.50
56 0.401 0.73 0.83 0.55
57 0.442 0.76 0.86 0.60
58 0.487 0.79 0.89 0.65
59 0.537 0.82 0.92 0.70
60 0.594 0.85 0.95 0.75
61 0.657 0.88 0.98 0.80
62 0.728 0.91 1.00 0.85
63 0.808 0.94 1.00 0.90
64 0.898 0.97 1.00 0.95

1 Plan 3 members must have at least 10 years of service credit. Plan 2 members must have at least 20 years of service credit.

2 If you were hired on or after May 1, 2013; have 30 years of service credit; and are age 55 or older, your ERF reduces your benefit by 5 percent for each year (prorated monthly) before you turn age 65.


What reductions apply if I retire early?

The amount of the reduction to your monthly benefit depends on how much younger than age 65 you are when you retire and the amount of service credit you have. This reduction reflects that you will be receiving your defined benefit for a longer period of time than if you had retired at age 65. Consider how the ERFs are applied in the early-retirement examples at right.

For more information on early retirement, read Washington Administrative Code 415-02-320.

Monthly beneft formulas
Plan 2 early-retirement formula
2% x service credit years x Average Final Compensation (AFC) x ERF = monthly benefit
Plan 3 early-retirement formula
1% x service credit years x Average Final Compensation (AFC) x ERF = monthly benefit

Can I retire early, return to work and continue to receive my monthly benefit?

If you return to work for an employer not covered by a Washington state retirement system, your benefit is not impacted. You can work an unlimited number of hours. The rules are different, however, for returning to work in a position that is eligible for Washington state retirement system coverage. You must wait at least 30 consecutive days after your retirement date before returning to work.

If you retire with fewer than 30 years of service credit or under the 3 percent ERFs (see the chart above), you can work up to 867 hours in an eligible position each calendar year and continue to receive a monthly benefit. If you work more than 867 hours, your monthly benefit will be suspended until you quit working or the next calendar year begins.

If you retire using the 2008 ERFs and have not reached age 65, different rules apply:

  • You cannot work in any capacity for a DRS-covered employer and continue to receive your benefit. If you do return to work, you will not receive your monthly benefit for any month in which you work. Your benefit will restart the first of the month after you stop working. Once you reach age 65, you can work under the rules previously described. However, if you are a Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) member, the rules are temporarily different for you. As a retired teacher, you can return to work exclusively as a K-12 substitute teacher and continue receiving your TRS benefit during the first 867 hours you substitute teach each calendar year. Any hours worked outside the role of K-12 substitute teacher will still suspend your benefit. This opportunity is available through July 31, 2020.
  • You cannot earn compensation from a DRS-covered employer for services performed as a contractor and continue to receive a monthly benefit.

For more information, read the DRS publication Thinking About Working After Retirement?

Other questions?

If you have questions about retiring early that are not covered in this publication, please contact DRS. Be prepared to provide your name, Social Security number, and retirement system and plan.


This webpage is a summary. It is not a complete description of early retirement. State retirement laws govern your benefit. If a conflict exists between the information in this document and what is contained in current law, the law governs.

Early retirement by the numbers
Example 1
Retiring Sept. 1, 2015, at age 55 with 22 years of service credit

Mario retires Sept. 1, 2015, at age 55 with 22 years of service credit. His AFC is $3,600. He is retiring early, so his monthly benefit is 36.5 percent of what it would have been at age 65, calculated as follows:

  • Plan 2
    = 2% x 22 years x $3,600 x 36.5%
    = 0.02 x 22 x $3,600 x 0.365
    = $578.16
  • Plan 3
    = 1% x 22 years x $3,600 x 36.5%
    = 0.01 x 22 x $3,600 x 0.365
    = $289.08
Example 2
Retiring March 1, 2015, at age 60 with 30 years of service credit

Haani retires March 1, 2015, at age 60 with 30 years of service credit. Her AFC is $4,000. She is retiring early, so her monthly benefit is 85 percent of what it would have been at age 65, calculated as follows:

  • Plan 2
    = 2% x 30 years x $4,000 x 85%
    = 0.02 x 30 x $4,000 x 0.85
    = $2,040
  • Plan 3
    = 1% x 30 years x $4,000 x 85%
    = 0.01 x 30 x $4,000 x 0.85
    = $1,020
Example 3
Retiring April 1, 2014, at age 62 with 30 years of service credit using the 3 percent ERF

Ron retires April 1, 2014, at age 62 with 30 years of service credit. His AFC is $4,400. If he chooses the 3 percent ERF, his monthly benefit is calculated as follows:

  • Plan 2
    = 2% x 30 years x $4,400 x 91%
    = 0.02 x 30 x $4,400 x 0.91
    = $2,402
  • Plan 3
    = 1% x 30 years x $4,400 x 91%
    = 0.01 x 30 x $4,400 x 0.91
    = $1,201
Example 4
Retiring April 1, 2014, at age 62 with 30 years of service credit using the 3 percent ERF

If Ron instead chooses to retire under the 2008 ERF, his benefit is not reduced. But he now must follow stricter return-to-work rules than retirees who pick the 3 percent ERF. If he chooses the 2008 ERF, his monthly benefit is calculated as follows:

  • Plan 2
    = 2% x 30 years x $4,400 x 100%
    = 0.02 x 30 x $4,400 x 1.00
    = $2,640
  • Plan 3
    = 1% x 30 years x $4,400 x 100%
    = 0.01 x 30 x $4,400 x 1.00
    = $1,320