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

Resigning Instead of Retiring

What happens when a federal employee who is eligible to retire decides to resign instead of filing for retirement? Well…they quit. Their paycheck stops and their retirement doesn’t commence until they decide to file for retirement benefits. It’s not a very common occurrence, but I’ve been discussing it lately with a couple of my associates: Ray Kirk, a former Office of Personnel Management official and federal benefits expert; and James Marshall, deputy director of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association’s Federal Benefits Institute.

Here are some situations in which an employee who is eligible to retire may decide to resign instead:

  • They want to work for a different federal agency, but not continue with current employment while seeking a new position. (This could be due to any number of reasons, such as a conflict with management, job dissatisfaction or the end of a term appointment.)
  • They are interested in moving to a new state or different country, and seeking reemployment afterward.
  • They want to prevent an ex-spouse from receiving a court-ordered share of their retirement benefit—even though that keeps the employee from receiving their own share of the benefit.

Why not just...

8 Fun Facts About Federal Retirement

There are quite a few fun facts that are interesting, but probably wouldn’t make much difference in your life if you didn’t know them. Here are a few I found on Buzzfeed:

Here are eight fun facts about federal retirement that might not only spark a conversation in the carpool but also could help you in planning for your retirement.

The federal retirement system is almost 100 years old. The 1920 act creating it included a single mandatory retirement age of 70. No earlier retirement was permitted except for disability, although in 1922 a retroactive provision was introduced allowing discontinued service retirement at age 55 with 15 years of service. No survivor annuity benefits were payable and for service of 30 years or more, the basic annuity was 60 percent...

Should You Relocate in Retirement?

Have you had a career that took you across the country or maybe even around the world? Did moving from place to place create a sense of excitement and adventure or was it more a source of anxiety and uncertainty?

For some federal employees, a retirement move conjures feelings of enthusiasm and anticipation. For others, retirement is a time to stay home and be close to long-time friends, families and activities. Which option is for you? estimates that 85 percent of retirees stay put in retirement for various reasons, including a history of social connections.

Others, though, follow the urge to move someplace new., a personal finance website, publishes an annual study of the best states for retirement, based on an analysis of five factors:

  • Healthy environment
  • Personal security
  • Local economy
  • Weather conditions
  • Popularity with older residents

“Obviously, personal preferences should play a major role in choosing a place to live in retirement,” says Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst at “Still, by presenting an analysis based on cold hard numbers, we hope the MoneyRates study gets people to think about what practical factors they should take into consideration when choosing a place to retire...

When Life-Changing Events Happen

The annual insurance open season ended more than two months ago. So what do you do if you need to make a change in your insurance benefits? Did you know that there are some insurance changes that can—and should—be made outside of open season?

This is true for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Federal Employees Group Life Insurance and the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Programs. When it comes to the five years leading up to your retirement date, the rules regarding changes can be especially important for FEHBP and FEGLI because of the “five-year test” that must be met in order to maintain these valuable benefits during retirement.

I wrote about the five-year test for FEHBP in a previous column. Last July, I received the following anguished email from an employee who was planning to retire in August 2017:

I have been a federal employee for 34 years and I am retiring under CSRS on 31 August 2017. I have had federal health insurance since day one of my career. I was covered by my retired husband’s FEHB self and family plan until the end of 2016. Because all our children are now over...

Retiring Sooner Than You Expected

Last week, I got a little ribbing for writing about divorce so close to Valentine’s Day. So this week, I decided to write about a topic that some of you may love: retiring a little sooner than expected. I’m going to tell you about a recent retiree and a soon-to-retire employee who were able to get sweetheart deals that allowed them to retire a bit earlier than initially planned.

Before I share these two examples, I need to explain a few retirement rules. For most federal employees, unused sick leave will add a little more money to your retirement benefit by providing additional time towards the computation of your retirement benefit. But it generally won’t help you be eligible to retire any sooner.

For example, if you’re planning to retire at age 55 under the Civil Service Retirement System, you will be required to have 30 years of creditable service to be eligible for retirement before your sick leave can be credited in the computation of your retirement benefit. The same goes for the Federal Employees Retirement System if you want to retire at your minimum retirement age (55-57, depending on your year of birth). You...