March 23, 2012
Isn’t it amazing to see how technology has changed our lives? In 1988, when I first started training federal employees about their retirement benefits, I would create transparency slides. Remember the thin plastic film that was used with an overhead projector? I would use washable markers to illustrate my examples, and every night I would stand at the kitchen sink to wash off my slides to get them ready for the next seminar. It was even more fun when I was out of town and had the wet slides drying in a hotel bathroom.
In the 1990s, I upgraded from transparencies to PowerPoint, but had to bring my own projector and laptop to seminar sites. Today most training rooms are equipped with touch screens and built-in projection systems complete with an Internet connection. Nirvana!
When I can, I love to show my classes all the wonderful resources available on the Internet to help employees understand their retirement benefits. This week, I thought I’d share the list with you.
It centers on the three agencies that administer federal retirement benefits: the Office of Personnel Management (Civil Service Retirement System and Federal Employees Retirement System benefits, as well as insurance benefits); the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (the Thrift Savings Plan); and the Social Security Administration (Social Security insurance benefits and also enrollment in Medicare).
Retirement information and services
Health plan information
Compare health plans (See also: Consumers’ Checkbook Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees and Annuitants)
Federal Employees Group Life Insurance
If you really want to dive deep into the rules for retirement eligibility, computation of benefits and other issues related to CSRS and FERS, then you might want to look through the more than 2,000 pages of the CSRS and FERS Handbook for Personnel and Payroll Offices. And you can always check the benefit administration letters that are issued periodically to update information on federal benefit programs, including retirement and insurance.
One More Thing
By navigating these sites, you’ll be able to answer up to 99 percent of the questions you might have about your retirement benefits.
One final resource that should not be overlooked is your own agency’s human resources office. Agencies are responsible for guiding employees through the retirement process, supplying all the information needed. This doesn’t involve advising employees on exactly what decisions they should make, but it does mean giving them an all-inclusive presentation on the retirement process.
March 23, 2012