Retirement Planning Retirement PlanningRetirement Planning
Advice on how to prepare for life after government.

Make Retirement Easy

Last week, we looked at some of the reasons for delays in processing retirement applications. The Office of Personnel Management is trying to address that issue with its retirement systems modernization project, which now goes by the name RetireEZ.

The Office of Personnel Management says the new system is working as planned so far. But don't get too excited yet. Only about 26,000 federal employees are included in the first test of the system.

Only time will tell whether RetireEZ will live up to its name. In order to work, it must be able to address the vast range of employment scenarios that federal civil servants might have encountered during their careers.

The system promises employees more capability to project their potential retirement income. Not only will they be able to review data in the system to make sure it accurately documents their career, they will be able to compute 12 different retirement estimates and compare three at a time on the same screen -- all without the help or permission of their human resources office.

How will this work in the real world? Consider this question I recently received from a reader:

I have requested our personnel office to provide me an estimate. I have 20 years of service (not continuous), and am over 50 years old. Some of my earlier years (possibly eight of the 20 years) were under the Civil Service Retirement System. If I withdrew some of my retirement under CSRS when I left government service after my first five years of government service, how does this affect my possible Federal Employees Retirement System supplement, assuming I take an early-out prior to age 62?

Without RetireEZ

Under the current paper-based system, a federal benefits specialist would have to provide the estimate this employee seeks. To do so, he or she would have to interpret exactly what information the employee needs. For example, the employee didn't ask, but it would be important to know, how taking a refund of CSRS contributions would affect the retirement computation. Another important unasked question concerns how much the employee's retirement benefit would be reduced if he or she retired before turning 55.

The answers to such questions are critical to determining how much of a retirement benefit this employee would be entitled to if offered an early out. This is the kind of insight and understanding an agency retirement specialist should have in order to provide useful information.

With RetireEZ

So how would the process work under RetireEZ? The goal is that the system would provide an estimate that would answer all of the above questions. Here's how it might play out.

The employee would log on to RetireEZ and enter information to calculate retirement at age 50 with 20 years of service. Human resources data previously entered into the system should indicate that this employee transferred to FERS with a frozen CSRS component. It should also show that he had received a refund of CSRS contributions upon leaving the government.

In computing the retirement estimate, the system should indicate that at 50, this employee would be eligible only for early retirement (voluntary or discontinued service) or disability. Depending on which option the employee selects, the program should compute an age reduction on the CSRS component, but the FERS benefit would not be reduced for age.

The employee also should compute an alternative scenario on RetireEZ to find out the value of his benefit if he stays until the FERS minimum retirement age. And the employee should compute a third estimate showing what would happen if he stays long enough to qualify for an unreduced optional retirement, since he will not have enough service for an unreduced benefit when reaching the minimum retirement age.

Will this employee and the RetireEZ system know to ask all of these questions and be able to interpret the data? The day that happens, federal employees will have reason to celebrate. It might also be the day I retire, because my services no longer will be needed.

Let's hope that day is soon. My husband is not planning to continue his career too many more years, and I'd like to start practicing what I preach about retirement.

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

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.