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Advice on how to prepare for life after government.

Test Your Retirement Knowledge


At schools around the country, the end of December is exam time. So now it's your turn. This week, I present a brief retirement quiz. The test applies to people covered by either the Civil Service Retirement System or the Federal Employees Retirement System.

Ready? Then let's begin.

  1. Any employee who is 50 years old with 20 years of service or any age with 25 years of service may retire if he or she is willing to take a reduced retirement benefit.
    a. True
    b. False
  2. The mandatory age for a federal employee to retire is:
    a. 70
    b. 57
    c. There is none
  3. You may receive a refund of your contributions to the retirement system when:
    a. You resign from federal service
    b. You retire from federal service with a life-threatening illness
    c. You apply for a loan
    d. A and B only
    e. All of the above
  4. The following benefits may be paid if you die before retirement:
    a. A refund of retirement contributions paid to your beneficiary or person who is next in line in the order of precedence
    b. A survivor's annuity to the spouse and a lump sum death benefit to the spouse depending on the amount of service and retirement system of the employee
    c. A monthly benefit paid to your dependent children
    d. All of the above, depending on who survives you and which retirement system you are covered under
  5. Once you have been retired for more than three years, it is no longer necessary to keep your CSRS or FERS beneficiary designation up to date.
    a. True
    b. False
  6. A CSRS or FERS retirement benefit is computed based on the following factors:
    a. Contributions and service
    b. High-three average salary and age
    c. Length of service and high-three average salary
    d. Color of your hair and your mother's maiden name
  7. The most important thing to do before you retire to ensure the accuracy of your retirement computation is:
    a. Use your agency's online service to compute an estimate of your retirement
    b. Request a retirement estimate for a specific date from your agency's human resources office
    c. Make sure your personnel records reflect a complete history of your federal career, including the beginning and ending dates of every period of creditable service
    d. Call the Office of Personnel Management prior to retirement to request a pre-retirement computation
  8. The following types of retirement benefits may be selected:
    a. A reduced retirement to provide spousal survivor benefits to a current or former spouse
    b. A reduced retirement to provide dependent children's benefits
    c. There is no reduction to provide a survivor's benefit; it is included with the retirement benefit
    d. A reduced retirement to provide a survivor's benefit to someone who might be financially dependent on you
    e. A and D
    f. All of the above
  9. CSRS and FERS retirement benefits are adjusted for inflation based on the following measurement:
    a. The same adjustment as federal employee salaries are adjusted every January
    b. There is no inflation adjustment on retirement benefits
    c. The Consumer Price Index
  10. The best reason for retiring at the end of the year is:
    a. To get an increase in your retirement because of the cost of living adjustment
    b. To take advantage of the final holidays
    c. To maximize the value of the lump sum annual leave payment
    d. Because everyone else does

Are you ready for the answers? Then click here.

Tammy Flanagan is the senior benefits director for the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc., which conducts federal retirement planning workshops and seminars. She has spent 25 years helping federal employees take charge of their retirement by understanding their benefits.


Tammy Flanagan has spent 30 years helping federal employees take charge of their retirement by understanding their benefits. She runs her own consulting business at and provides individual counseling as well as online training for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, Plan Your Federal Retirement as well as the Federal Long Term Care insurance Program. She also serves as the senior benefits director for the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc., which conducts federal retirement planning workshops and seminars.

For more retirement planning help, tune in to "For Your Benefit," presented by the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc. live on Federal News Radio on Mondays at 10 a.m. ET on WFED AM 1500 in the Washington-metro area. Archived shows are available on

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