What You Need to Know

By Tammy Flanagan

October 10, 2008

Whether you are a new federal employee or someone with 35 years of service, there are certain things you need to know to plan for your retirement. Your agency's human resources office can be a valuable resource for getting answers to these questions, since it is your link to the Office of Personnel Management, which administers benefits under both the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System.

At a seminar last week I was asked to provide examples of common questions you should ask yourself and your HR office. Here are a series of lists, based on your years of service, along with some suggestions for preliminary research before you head over to HR.

New Employees
For those with less than five years on the job:

Midcareer Employees

For those with five to 15 years on the job:

Near-Retirement Employees

For those with more than 15 years on the job, or who are within five years of retirement eligibility:

NOTE: After this column was published, OPM let me know that it has developed a federal retirement ballpark estimate tool in partnership with the American Savings Education Council of the Employee Benefits Research Institute. It automatically calculates estimates of future CSRS or FERS retirement benefits and Thrift Savings Plan account balances to help users see how well they are doing in meeting their savings goals. You can find it here: Federal Ballpark Estimate.

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 live on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. ET on federalnewsradio.com or on WFED AM 1500 in the Washington metro area. This week's topic: Buy and Hold: Does It Really Work? Should I Stick With It? Guest: W. Kirk Taylor, CFP Taylor Wealth Advisors. Hosts: Bob Leins, CPA, NITP, and John Elliott, Federal Benefits Strategist.

By Tammy Flanagan

October 10, 2008