Maybe you have put in your time at your job and are ready to officially retire. Whether that is happening now, or is something you are considering doing in the near future, there are some things you can do to help make for a smooth transition. The more you prepare for your retirement prior to it actually taking place, the more smoothly the transition is likely to go.
There are a variety of tasks that you will need to do prior to retiring from a federal government position. These items may vary, depending on what type of position you are in and where you are working. But here are some of the things that you should keep in mind when preparing for retirement.
- Determine readiness. Whether you are in a federal job or not, it is always wise to make sure you are ready for retirement. Wanting to retire and being financially in a position to do so are two different things. A quick online search will yield financial retirement readiness calculators that can help you to decide if you are ready. Keep in mind that determining readiness is about more than just finances. You also want to make sure you are physically and emotionally ready to enter the next chapter of your life.
- Use tools. Government education tools have been developed that are useful for helping you determine more than just readiness. You can also use them to determine savings goals. Use all of the tools at your disposal to help make sure that you are ready for retirement. Some of the best website software and tools are available at http://www.opm.gov/retire/index.aspx
- Determine date. Take some time to determine the best date for you to retire. If you have a particular date in mind that works for you, for whatever reason, then select that one. But if you don’t have any date in mind and don’t have a preference regarding what that day should be, discuss it with human resources or your manager, to see if there is a date that would work better for the department. This may help your department achieve a smoother transition upon your departure.
- One year before. Assuming that you are not expecting to retire a month from now, there is preparation that you can undertake as much as a year prior to retirement. It is ideal to begin planning for retirement a year in advance. A year before the time you want to retire, you should visit the human resources department and let them know. This one-year warning can help avoid any snags later on. They will be able to begin doing things like checking your eligibility and your accrued vacation and sick pay, as well as beginning to gather the benefit information you will need. Along the way, you will have forms to fill out regarding beneficiary information, final separation forms, etc.
- Meet with a planner. Meeting with a trusted financial planner can help ease any fears you may have about retirement. The planner will help you to go over your projected expenses and determine the best ways to save money, as well as helping you devise a realistic budget that will make sure you have enough money to last.
- Get benefit information. One of the things that people worry about most when they retire is what their benefits will be. You will want to set your mind at ease and make sure you know all you can about your benefits as you enter retirement. Be sure to ask your human resources department when the next ‘understanding your benefits’ workshop will be. Attend the meeting and be sure to bring a list of questions which are specific to your needs.
- Submit retirement application. Typically, around three months prior to your retirement, you should submit the necessary forms to make it successfully happen. This gives human resources ample time to prepare things on their side, including any paperwork, and hiring a replacement for your position. Check with that department to confirm how far in advance they need the retirement application submitted.
- Train your replacement. Nobody likes to think of themselves as being replaced in a position, but unless your department is doing away with your position when you retire, that’s exactly what is going to have to happen. To help your department experience a smooth transition, and to leave a positive reflection upon you, be sure to take the time to train the person being hired to take over your position. Giving them all the tools and resources to take over and hit the ground running will help the department, as well as put you in a favorable light.
- Attend your luncheon. While it is not a given, there is a good chance you will have some sort of going-away celebration. Whether it be a quick cake gathering in the lunchroom or an official luncheon, you will want to attend. Be prepared for this event by jotting down some of the names of people who have helped you along the way and for whom you are thankful. People will want you to offer a word or two about your retirement, so be prepared to say something about your future plans, as well as offering public appreciation to those who have helped you along the way.
- Employee clearance record. As a federal employee, you will usually need to sign an employee clearance record, as well as a security termination statement, upon your departure. At that time, you will also need to turn in any items that belong to the department, such as cell phones, keys, identification cards, credit cards, etc.
While the department you work in may have some variance in how you go about working up to your retirement, keeping this checklist in mind will help ensure that nothing gets overlooked. Your human resources contact is going to be pivotal throughout the retirement process, as well as later on if you have any follow up questions that arise. The more prepared you are to retire, the smoother the transition will be for both you and your employer.