Last Updated September 2019
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.
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:
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.
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 "Early retirement 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:
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% 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
|3% ERF||2008 ERF||5% ERF|
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.
The ERFs are subject to change based on State Actuary figures. The administrative factors used in the table above are for illustrative purposes only. To review the factors in detail, visit the complete table online.
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.
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% ERFs (see the chart), 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:
Exceptions to having your 2008 ERF benefit suspended
TRS and SERS Plan 2 and 3 retirees can continue to work up to 867 hours in a calendar year without suspending your benefit in a nonadministrative position.
To determine your eligibility, refer to this definition:
For 2008 ERF retirees returning to work a nonadministrative position or nonadministrative capacity means a position at a
a. does not require an Administrative Certification, as defined by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which currently includes
b. does not evaluate staff.
For more information, read the DRS publication Thinking About Working After Retirement?
This document 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.
How much difference can this choice make?
That depends on your circumstances, including your wages and age at retirement. Consider the examples below.
Mario retires Sept. 1, 2018, at age 55 with 22 years of service credit. The AFC is $3,600. An early retirement means the monthly benefit is 36.5% of what it would have been at age 65, calculated as follows:
Haani retires March 1, 2018, at age 60 with 30 years of service credit. The AFC is $4,000. An early retirement means the monthly benefit is 85% of what it would have been at age 65, calculated as follows:
Ron retires April 1, 2018, at age 62 with 30 years of service credit. The AFC is $4,400. If the 3% ERF is chosen, the monthly benefit is calculated as follows:
If Ron instead chooses to retire under the 2008 ERF, the benefit is not reduced. But now there are stricter return-to work rules that must be followed than there are for retirees who pick the 3% ERF (see Can I retire early, return to work and continue to receive my monthly benefit?). If the 2008 ERF is chosen, the monthly benefit is calculated as follows:
The administrative factors used in the examples above are for illustrative purposes only.