Should I Apply for Retirement 6 Months in Advance?

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By on July 22, 2014 in Q&A, Retirement with 6 Comments

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.

Agencies can request to have John Grobe, or another of Federal Career Experts' qualified instructors, deliver a retirement or transition seminar to their employees. FCE instructors are not financial advisers and will not sell or recommend financial products to class participants. Agency Benefits Officers can contact John Grobe at [email protected] to discuss schedules and costs.

© 2017 John Grobe. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from John Grobe.


About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a consulting firm that specializes in federal retirement and career transition issues. He is also affiliated with TSP Safety Net. John retired from federal service after 25 years of progressively more responsible human resources positions. He is the author of Understanding the Federal Retirement Systems and Career Transition: A Guide for Federal Employees, both published by the Federal Management Institute. Federal Career Experts provides pre-retirement seminars for a wide variety of federal agencies.