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

8 Fun Facts About Federal Retirement

There are quite a few fun facts that are interesting, but probably wouldn’t make much difference in your life if you didn’t know them. Here are a few I found on Buzzfeed:

Here are eight fun facts about federal retirement that might not only spark a conversation in the carpool but also could help you in planning for your retirement.

The federal retirement system is almost 100 years old. The 1920 act creating it included a single mandatory retirement age of 70. No earlier retirement was permitted except for disability, although in 1922 a retroactive provision was introduced allowing discontinued service retirement at age 55 with 15 years of service. No survivor annuity benefits were payable and for service of 30 years or more, the basic annuity was 60 percent...

Should You Relocate in Retirement?

Have you had a career that took you across the country or maybe even around the world? Did moving from place to place create a sense of excitement and adventure or was it more a source of anxiety and uncertainty?

For some federal employees, a retirement move conjures feelings of enthusiasm and anticipation. For others, retirement is a time to stay home and be close to long-time friends, families and activities. Which option is for you? estimates that 85 percent of retirees stay put in retirement for various reasons, including a history of social connections.

Others, though, follow the urge to move someplace new., a personal finance website, publishes an annual study of the best states for retirement, based on an analysis of five factors:

  • Healthy environment
  • Personal security
  • Local economy
  • Weather conditions
  • Popularity with older residents

“Obviously, personal preferences should play a major role in choosing a place to live in retirement,” says Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst at “Still, by presenting an analysis based on cold hard numbers, we hope the MoneyRates study gets people to think about what practical factors they should take into consideration when choosing a place to retire...

When Life-Changing Events Happen

The annual insurance open season ended more than two months ago. So what do you do if you need to make a change in your insurance benefits? Did you know that there are some insurance changes that can—and should—be made outside of open season?

This is true for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Federal Employees Group Life Insurance and the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Programs. When it comes to the five years leading up to your retirement date, the rules regarding changes can be especially important for FEHBP and FEGLI because of the “five-year test” that must be met in order to maintain these valuable benefits during retirement.

I wrote about the five-year test for FEHBP in a previous column. Last July, I received the following anguished email from an employee who was planning to retire in August 2017:

I have been a federal employee for 34 years and I am retiring under CSRS on 31 August 2017. I have had federal health insurance since day one of my career. I was covered by my retired husband’s FEHB self and family plan until the end of 2016. Because all our children are now over...

Retiring Sooner Than You Expected

Last week, I got a little ribbing for writing about divorce so close to Valentine’s Day. So this week, I decided to write about a topic that some of you may love: retiring a little sooner than expected. I’m going to tell you about a recent retiree and a soon-to-retire employee who were able to get sweetheart deals that allowed them to retire a bit earlier than initially planned.

Before I share these two examples, I need to explain a few retirement rules. For most federal employees, unused sick leave will add a little more money to your retirement benefit by providing additional time towards the computation of your retirement benefit. But it generally won’t help you be eligible to retire any sooner.

For example, if you’re planning to retire at age 55 under the Civil Service Retirement System, you will be required to have 30 years of creditable service to be eligible for retirement before your sick leave can be credited in the computation of your retirement benefit. The same goes for the Federal Employees Retirement System if you want to retire at your minimum retirement age (55-57, depending on your year of birth). You...

Divorce and Your Benefits

If you have gone through a divorce, are going through one, or may go through one in the future, you should be aware of the potential impact on your federal benefits. In many cases, employees are not sure exactly how much their former spouse is entitled to receive from their Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System benefit. Some people are not aware of the difference between retirement benefits, the FERS annuity supplement and survivor benefits, and the meaning of such terms as “marital share” and “court order acceptable for processing.”

Let’s look at three of the most important concepts.

Court Order Acceptable for Processing

To understand why this phrase is so misunderstood, consider the definition of a COAP found in the Handbook for Attorneys on Court Ordered Retirement and Insurance Benefits: “a court order as defined in this section that meets the requirements of subpart C of this part to affect an employee annuity, subpart E of this part to affect a refund of employee contributions, or subpart H of this part to award a former spouse survivor annuity.”

This means that the court order must be written in specific language that is understood by the...