Public Safety Officers

You are a qualified public safety employee if you:

  • provided police protection,
  • firefighting services, or
  • emergency medical services for a state or municipality, or

Beginning in 2016, this also includes the following ONLY for exclusion of tax on early distributions of a pension:

  • Federal law enforcement officers,
  • Federal customs and border protection officers,
  • Federal firefighters,
  • Air traffic controllers,
  • Nuclear materials couriers,
  • Members of the United States Capitol Police,
  • Members of the Supreme Court Police, and
  • Diplomatic security special agents of the United States Department of State.

Health insurance exclusion

If you are an eligible retired public safety officer (law enforcement officer, firefighter, chaplain, or member of a rescue squad or ambulance crew), you can elect to exclude from income distributions made from your eligible retirement plan that are used to pay the premiums for

  • accident insurance,
  • health insurance, or
  • long-term care insurance.
  • QUESTION: is this list extended by the above 2016 list for tax year 2017?

The premiums can be for coverage for you, your spouse, or dependents. The distribution must be made directly from the plan to the insurance provider and only for amounts that would otherwise be included in your income.

Early distribution

Distributions made from a governmental defined benefit pension plan are not subject to the additional tax on early distributions and you separated from service in or after the year you attained age 50 (normally 55).

Retirement under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).

In most cases, under the CSRS, the minimum combinations of age and service for retirement are:

  • Age 55 with 30 years of service,
  • Age 60 with 20 years of service,
  • Age 62 with 5 years of service, or
  • For service as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, nuclear materials courier, or air traffic controller, age 50 with 20 years of covered service.

Retirement under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

In most cases, the minimum age for retirement under the FERS is between ages 55 and 57 with at least 10 years of service. With at least 5 years of service, your minimum retirement age is age 62. Your minimum retirement age with at least 10 years of service is shown in Table 2.

Table 2. FERS Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) With 10 Years of Service

IF you were born in THEN your MRA is
1947 or earlier 55 years.
1948 55 years, 2 months.
1949 55 years, 4 months.
1950 55 years, 6 months.
1951 55 years, 8 months.
1952 55 years, 10 months.
1953 to 1964 56 years.
1965 56 years, 2 months.
1966 56 years, 4 months.
1967 56 years, 6 months.
1968 56 years, 8 months.
1969 56 years, 10 months.
1970 or later 57 years.