Q: My OPM officer is saying that if I apply for retirement 6 months in advance, the application will “only sit in a folder.” Can you suggest what I should do?
A: I believe your HR person gave you an over simplified response. While it is true that an agency will not send your application to OPM until you have actually retired, I hope it will not “sit in a folder”, waiting to be processed by HR at the last minute. Now, if HR processes it when they receive it and we have a complete and accurate retirement package that is ready to be sent to OPM on the date of your retirement, I see nothing wrong with it “sitting in a folder”. I always advise participants in my classes to turn in their paperwork two to three months in advance. If you have a complex and confusing service history, having a few months of lead time will allow HR to deal with any issues such as deposits and re-deposits and properly advise you. If you’re retiring around the end of the calendar year (when at least half of federal employees retire – and many HR and Payroll employees are out of the office on use-or-lose) a few months head start would ensure that your retirement paperwork would not get caught in a last minute rush.