iStock.com/Kemal Yildirim

Your Retirement Responsibility

There are certain critical questions only you can answer.

Federal employees must make some very important decisions at the time they retire. Some of these choices can have lifelong consequences and should be carefully evaluated.

Unfortunately, the rules surrounding retirement can be confusing and complicated. That’s why the government and its various agencies have a responsibility to counsel federal employees as they go through the process.

It starts with the Office of Personnel Management, which offers an online support center to guide employees. It provides information on a wide array of topics, including applying for retirement; cost-of-living adjustments; health, disability, life insurance, and court-ordered benefits; and interim pay during retirement processing.

At the agency level, benefits officers are supposed to help guide employees through the process, including helping them identify opportunities for pre-retirement counseling. OPM also provides an online guide to benefits officers

Uncle Sam has a responsibility to help you through the retirement planning maze, but it’s important to remember that you have the ultimate responsibility for making good decisions about your future after your federal career ends. 

Here’s what OPM says in its handbook on federal retirement issues:

Employees should begin planning for retirement several years before the date they set for retirement so that they will be aware of what is required to continue certain benefits as an annuitant. In preparing for retirement, employees need to know that health and life insurance coverage normally must be in effect continuously for at least 5 years before the retirement date or they will be ineligible to carry these important benefits into retirement. Employees also need to know how other programs, such as Social Security, will affect their retirement. Knowing about the choices that are available and how those choices will affect their retirement benefits will help them make informed decisions. When retirement planning is part of career planning, employees will know how to build a solid retirement base to which they can contribute throughout their years in government service. The Thrift Savings Plan will be a major part of most retirement plans for future retirees and careful planning throughout their careers will assure them of a sound retirement base. Participating in the retirement seminars given by the agency will help the employee understand his or her role in the retirement process and the retirement application process, which is the culmination of all the plans made for retirement throughout their careers. When employees plan and begin the application process early, problems are less likely to occur. The employees will understand what their benefits are and what documentation is required for the retirement package. 

Your agency’s human resources office can be very helpful in answering questions like this:

  • When will I become eligible to retire?
  • If I retire on a specific date, when will my retirement benefit begin?
  • If I pay a military service credit deposit, how will that affect my eligibility for and calculation of my benefit?
  • Is my service properly documented and creditable for my retirement?
  • What forms do I need to complete to begin the process?
  • What is an estimate of my retirement benefit if I retire as of a specific date?
  • Does the estimate show the reductions and withholdings that will affect my net monthly benefit amount?
  • How much will my retirement be reduced to provide a spousal survivor annuity?
  • If I die before my spouse, how is the survivor benefit computed and how long will they receive it?

On the other hand, there are other questions the employees in your HR office are simply not prepared to answer. It’s not in the position description of a benefits specialist to provide financial management advice. So questions like these are yours to ponder and answer carefully:

  • What is the best date for me to retire?
  • Should I pay my military service deposit?
  • Will I be able to afford to retire?
  • Should I provide a survivor benefit for my spouse?

Notice that the second set of questions require an opinion rather than a factual response. The first set of questions are important questions that you should have the answers to in order to determine the answers to the second set of questions. You will be able to answer the second set of questions for yourself (with the help of a trusted and qualified financial adviser, if necessary) if you have the facts before you make your decision.

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.