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

Preparing in Advance


This week’s column is inspired by a pamphlet prepared by the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association for its members. The publication is called “Be Prepared for Life’s Events.”

NARFE formed in 1921, the year after Congress passed the law creating the Civil Service Retirement System. It represents the interests of nearly 5 million active and retired federal workers by providing them a voice before Congress. NARFE sponsors and supports legislation to protect the retirement benefits of its members.

I think of NARFE as a friend who is watching your back. It has a long history of organizing protests of efforts to trim federal benefits, such as one that helped lead to the repeal of the 1988 Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting NARFE Headquarters in Alexandria, Va., and found an organization that doesn’t look like it’s nearly 100 years old. I’ve been a NARFE member since 1988 and still look forward to receiving the organization’s monthly magazine and the updates posted to its website.

Now that I’m beginning to phase into my own retirement, I’m trying to make time for my local NARFE Chapter. Last year our chapter (Woodbridge, Va., Chapter 1270) raised more than $30,000 for Alzheimer’s research at an annual fashion show in which I participated. For those who can’t attend regular meetings and events, NARFE now offers an electronic chapter option known as eNarfe.

One important role NARFE plays is helping survivors of federal employees and retirees navigate the benefits that are available to them upon the death of a current federal employee or annuitant. That’s where the “Life’s Events” pamphlet comes in. It outlines a simple three-step process for survivors:

  • Return payments and checks issued after the date of death and notify financial institutions that are receiving direct deposit of those payments.
  • Notify the agencies that were paying benefits to the deceased.
  • Obtain certified copies of the death certificate to establish eligibility to be paid death benefits, such as Civil Service Retirement System and Federal Employees Retirement System survivor benefits, Federal Employees Group Life Insurance benefits, Thrift Savings Plan funds and Social Security.

The pamphlet includes forms to record important information that will make it much easier for your survivors to know who they need to contact in the event of your death. This includes:

  • Personal information
  • Retirement asset information
  • Financial records
  • Liability account numbers
  • Lender information
  • Insurance information
  • List and location of important documents
  • Who to notify
  • Burial instructions

There’s also a sample notification letter that can be sent to the Office of Personnel Management’s Retirement Operations Center to assist your survivors in providing all of the information needed for OPM to process benefits payable upon your death.

I know there are many organizations that represent federal employees in important ways. I chose to write about NARFE today since I’ve had a lot of personal experience with this organization. In these days when I sense a fear in many current federal employees and retirees, it is good to know you’re not alone and that people are trying to protect what you’ve worked for.

Tammy Flanagan has spent 30 years helping federal employees take charge of their retirement by understanding their benefits. She runs her own consulting business at and provides individual counseling as well as online training for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, Plan Your Federal Retirement as well as the Federal Long Term Care insurance Program. She also serves as the senior benefits director for the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc., which conducts federal retirement planning workshops and seminars.

For more retirement planning help, tune in to "For Your Benefit," presented by the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc. live on Federal News Radio on Mondays at 10 a.m. ET on WFED AM 1500 in the Washington-metro area. Archived shows are available on

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.