Kritsana Laroque/Shutterstock.com

8 Reasons Your Retirement Estimate May be Inaccurate

Some common pitfalls to watch out for.

I’ve written several times in the past about the importance of getting a retirement estimate from your agency well in advance of your planned retirement date.

The only problem is that sometimes these estimates don’t accurately predict what you can expect in retirement. Here are eight of the most common causes of an inaccurate retirement estimate.

1. Improper Documentation

If a portion of your federal career has not been properly documented in your electronic official personnel folder, then your agency will not be able to accurately account for your complete length of service needed to compute your retirement benefit. It is your responsibility to ensure that your eOPF contains the records that document your federal career.

When is the last time you looked at your eOPF? You should see a record of beginning and ending dates of every period of federal employment as well as records of military service and any other service that may be potentially creditable towards eligibility and computation of your federal retirement benefit. If you notice there are missing records that would document your career more accurately, contact a retirement specialist at your agency.

2. Sheer Complexity

Your estimate should be prepared by an experienced retirement specialist (as opposed to the do-it-yourself methods). The rules for crediting federal service towards the eligibility and computation of a Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System benefit are, to say the least, complex. To understand just how complicated they are, take a look at Chapters 20-23 of the CSRS and FERS Handbook for Personnel and Payroll Offices. In order to become an expert in how the rules have changed, you’d also have to look at the Office of Personnel Management’s benefits administration letters dating back to 1995, because the handbook hasn’t had a complete update since then.

3. Coverage Errors

Tens of thousands of federal employees have been classified under CSRS or FERS who should have been put in the other system (or in CSRS Offset). Retirement coverage errors are corrected under another set of complex rules implemented after passage of the 2000 Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Corrections Act. Many FERCCA cases have been resolved, but others have yet to be discovered.

4. Changes in Coverage

Your retirement coverage may have changed duringyour career. You may have begun your service without coverage under CSRS or FERS because your appointment was temporary or seasonal. Later on, you may have switched from CSRS (Or CSRS Offset) to FERS. A change in retirement coverage could affect your eligibility as well as the calculation of your retirement benefit. Sometimes this also will require that you consider paying a civilian service credit deposit to avoid a reduction or in some cases, a loss of the service credit toward eligibility or computation of your retirement.

5. Resignations and Refunds

You may have previously resigned from federal service and were later rehired. When you left, you may have requested a refund of your retirement contributions. Your agency may not be aware that you got this refund and may not know whether you’ve paid a redeposit of the refund unless you provide documentation. Having an outstanding refund of retirement contributions will affect your retirement benefit.

6. Military Service Credit Issues

Active-duty military service is potentially creditable towards CSRS and FERS retirement benefits. If you served in the military, your agency may not be aware that you are already receiving retired pay or may be entitled to receive a military retirement benefit in the future under one of the reserve components of the armed forces. They may not know that you are a disabled veteran and are receiving some disability benefits from the Veterans Affairs Department. The agency may not even be aware of whether you’ve paid a military service credit deposit. Retirement counseling should include information regarding your options for crediting active duty military service towards your civilian retirement benefit.

7. Working Less Than Full Time

Your agency may not have your complete work schedule history available to accurately compute periods of less-than-full-time service during your career. This can include periods of part-time, “when actually employed” or intermittent service. These records might be included in payroll information, but sometimes are not completely documented in personnel records. Working less than full time during your federal career can impact eligibility for retirement (in the case of intermittent and WAE service) and computation of your benefit.

8. Divorce

If you’ve been divorced, your agency retirement specialist is not equipped or authorized to compute the marital share of your retirement and survivor’s annuity that might be payable to your former spouse. That’s up to OPM. Here’s more information from the agency on court-ordered benefits for former spouses.

(Image via Kritsana Laroque/Shutterstock.com)

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.