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

The 2009 Quiz

It's hard to believe we're at the end of the first decade of the 21st century -- and the end of my fourth year writing this column. As I've done before, I'd like to end the year with a quiz. This year, I'm focusing mostly on key changes that took place during 2009. Let's see how well you do.
  1. The primary reason to choose a retirement date at the end of the leave year is to …
    a. Get a full cost-of-living adjustment on your retirement benefit.
    b. Have a full year of your final salary included in your high-three average salary.
    c. Save last year's accumulation of annual leave to be included with your lump-sum payment of accumulated and accrued annual leave.
    d. Avoid coming to work when it snows.
    e. Avoid paying taxes in the first year of retirement.
  2. Which of the following statements about employees covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System is correct?
    a. They can credit their entire balance of unused sick leave toward their basic retirement benefit.
    b. They will be paid for their unused balance of sick leave when they retire from federal service.
    c. They will receive credit for 50 percent of their unused balance of sick leave toward their basic retirement benefit computation for retirements that occur between Oct. 28, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2013. After 2013, the entire sick leave balance can be used to increase the FERS basic benefit.
    d. Congress is still debating whether to give FERS employees credit for their unused sick leave.
  3. One month of service is equivalent to about 174 hours of unused sick leave. If a FERS employee will receive credit for one month of sick leave, this will increase his or her retirement based on which of the following computations:
    a. 1 percent times high-three average salary
    b. 1/12 of 1 percent times high-three average salary
    c. 1/12 of 2 percent times high-three average salary
    d. 1/12 of 1 percent times final pay rate
  4. Employees under the Civil Service Retirement System who switch their schedules from full time to part time will have their high-three average salary computed …
    a. Using their actual part-time pay rates
    b. Using the full-time equivalent of their salary rate
    c. Using their salary rates prior to 4/7/86
    d. Using their salary rates in effect prior to switching to a part-time appointment
  5. FERS employees who had a break in service and took a refund of their retirement contributions can now …
    a. Include the refunded service in their length of service for retirement eligibility and computation of their basic retirement benefit.
    b. Pay the refunded contributions back to the retirement fund with interest to allow full credit for the period of service covered by the refund.
    c. Whistle Dixie.
    d. Take a slight reduction in their retirement benefit because of the refunded service.
  6. In their payments received on Jan. 1, 2010, CSRS and FERS retirees will receive a cost-of-living adjustment to their retirement benefits of how much?
    a. 5.8 percent
    b. 2.0 percent
    c. 0 percent
    d. 12 percent
  7. The maximum tax deferral amount for 2009 Thrift Savings Plan contributions is $16,500, plus an additional $5,500 for employees who are eligible to make catch-up contributions. The amount for 2010 will be:
    a. The same
    b. Lower because of deflation
    c. Higher
  8. New hires will have TSP contributions automatically withheld from their pay beginning in spring 2010 in the amount of:
    a. 10 percent
    b. 5 percent
    c. 3 percent
    d. Nothing. It's up to the employee to choose to participate.
  9. A TSP account inherited by a spouse has to be transferred to the spouse's own individual retirement arrangement or cashed out. Under new legislation that will take effect in spring 2010, TSP accounts inherited by the spouse will …
    a. Become taxable immediately.
    b. Be able to remain in the TSP and be renamed in the surviving spouse's name.
    c. Be donated to charity.
    d. Be passed on to the dependent children and bypass the spouse.
  10. True or False: Beginning in 2010, the TSP will have a Roth 401(k) available for employees to contribute after-tax dollars that will grow tax-free.

Ready for the answers? Click here to find out how well you did.

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.

For more retirement planning help, tune in to "For Your Benefit," presented by the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc. live on Monday mornings at 10 a.m. ET on or on WFED AM 1500 in the Washington metro area.


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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