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Advice on how to prepare for life after government.

5 Things You Can Change After You Retire

Jerry Sliwowski/

There are many things about retiring from federal service that are considered irrevocable, permanent and “one-time only.” This kind of language can make people nervous about the transition from employee to annuitant.

But there are several things you can -- and often need to -- change after you retire. Here’s a list of the top five:

1. Your Address

Retirees need to remember to notify the Thrift Savings Plan, the Office of Personnel Management and the Social Security Administration of any change in address. It’s important to make sure you’re notified of any change in your benefits as well as any upcoming deadlines, such as required minimum distributions from your TSP.

2. Your Insurance

Health: Retirees are eligible to participate in the annual Federal Employees Health Benefits Program open season, just like active employees. The difference is that retirees make changes to their insurance directly with OPM. Retirees also can make other changes outside of the open enrollment period. For example, when you turn 65, you have a personal open season allowing you to change your health plan to something that might work better with Medicare. Here’s more information about FEHBP and Medicare. You can find a list of permissible changes for retirees on OPM Form 2809.

Dental and Vision: In addition to health insurance, you can enroll in or change your Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program coverage in retirement.

Life: You can’t increase your Federal Employees Group Life Insurance in retirement, but you can cancel it if you decide you no longer need it (as long as it has not been “assigned”). There’s no standard form to do so. Instead, you must write a letter to: Office of Personnel Management Retirement Operations Center, P.O. Box 45, Boyers, Pennsylvania 16017-0045. Any cancellation or reduction of life insurance must be in writing and have an original signature by the insured retiree. Be sure to include your retirement claim number (CSA number) or Social Security number and specify exactly what action you want taken. If you develop a terminal illness, you can choose living benefits under FEGLI, which in effect allows you to become your own beneficiary of your basic life insurance.

Long-Term Care: If you did not enroll in a long-term care insurance plan while you were employed, you may be eligible for coverage after you retire under the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. Your spouse may also be able to enroll in a plan as well. There are medical underwriting requirements to be eligible for enrollment.

3. Your Tax Withholding

Retirees may choose to have taxes withheld from their federal retirement annuity, Social Security benefits and monthly payments from the TSP. You can find more information about adjusting these withholdings online:

4. Your Marital Status

If you get married, get divorced, or become widowed as a retiree, you may need to change your:

5. Your TSP Withdrawal Options and Account Allocations

Once you have separated from federal service, you are no longer eligible to make contributions to your TSP account or borrow from it. But there are many other things you can do, such as:

(Image via Jerry Sliwowski/


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 and 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

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