Special provisions for the early retirement of law enforcement officers and firefighters are based on a determination that these
positions should be filled by young individuals capable of meeting the demands of occupations that are far more physically taxing than
most positions in the Federal service.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has given the Department of Defense (DoD) the authority to approve special retirement
coverage for law enforcement officers and firefighters. Positions can be approved as primary or secondary.
Primary position means a position whose primary duties are:
- To perform work directly connected with controlling and extinguishing fires or maintaining and using firefighter apparatus and
- Investigating, apprehending, or detaining individuals suspected or convicted of offenses against the criminal laws of the United
Approved primary positions include:
- Lead Firefighter
- Criminal Investigator
Secondary position means a position that is:
- In the law enforcement or firefighting field;
- In an organization having a law enforcement or firefighting mission; and
- Supervisory — a position whose primary duties are those of a first-level supervisor of law enforcement officers
or firefighters in primary positions; or
- Administrative — an executive, managerial, technical, semiprofessional, or professional position for which
experience in a primary law enforcement or firefighting position, or equivalent experience outside the Federal government, is a
Approved secondary positions include:
- Fire Protection Inspector
- Fire Communications Operator
- Supervisory Fire Protection Inspector
- Supervisory Firefighter
- Fire Chief
- Supervisory Criminal Investigator
If you are in a position that has been approved as a primary position, you are covered under the special retirement provisions for
law enforcement officers and firefighters.
If you are in a position that has been approved as a secondary position, you are covered under the special retirement
- While covered under the special provisions, you move directly (without a break in service exceeding 3 days) from a primary
position to a secondary position; and
- You have been continuously employed (without a break in service exceeding 3 days) in a secondary position or positions since
moving from a primary position.
When a new law enforcement officer or firefighter position is created, the activity can request approval from DoD for primary or
secondary special retirement coverage.
If you are in a position that has not been approved for special retirement coverage and you feel it meets the requirements for
coverage, you can submit a request for individual service credit determination to the Civilian Benefits Center.
Special retirement provisions offer stability to the air traffic controller profession and are an incentive to personnel who carry
out highly stressful duties to stay in Federal service until a reasonable retirement age. OPM gave DoD the authority to approve
special retirement coverage for air traffic controllers, and DoD further delegated the approval authority to the Department of the
An air traffic controller is a civilian employee in an air traffic controller facility or flight service station facility who is:
- Actively engaged in the separation and control of air traffic or providing pre-flight, in-flight, or airport advisory service to
aircraft operators; or
- The immediate (first-level) supervisor of any employee described in #1 above; or
- The immediate (second-level) supervisor of any employee described in #2 above.
Although the air traffic controller definition covers employees and their first- and second-level supervisors, air traffic
controller positions are not categorized as primary or secondary positions.