Are Federal Agencies Required to Offer Retirement Seminars?

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By on March 31, 2017 in Q&A, Retirement with 0 Comments

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Q: My agency hasn’t offered a retirement seminar for years; aren’t they required to do so?

A: Yes, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) requires that all agencies have a “retirement and financial education literacy strategy” and a plan to implement that strategy. This requirement is outlined in Benefits Administration Letter (BAL) 11-104, which can be found on the OPM website.

OPM states that retirement readiness education should focus on educating employees on the need for retirement savings and investment, provide information on how to plan for retirement, and on how to calculate the retirement investments needed to meet their retirement goals.

OPM goes on to say:

The purpose of the plans is to insure systemic design of programs developed to communicate information to employees so they can plan for retirement and make informed decisions. Agency plans should be on an agency wide level and discuss how the agency will manage the elements of the program in its components to support the financial education model. The plans should discuss the agency’s goals and objectives for their retirement financial education program.

Each agency is required to appoint a “Benefits Officer” to ensure the OPM guidance is followed.

Many agencies are also required by negotiated labor agreements (union contracts) to, at a minimum, offer employees within a certain distance of retirement (often five years) the opportunity to attend a pre-retirement seminar.

If no retirement seminars have been offered in your agency for some time, inquire of your human resources staff as to how they are implementing OPM’s requirement that they have a retirement and financial literacy strategy.

Perhaps they are not offering seminars, but have other methods of providing this information. They might:

  • Have videos of retirement classes either on the agency Intranet;
  • Offer reimbursement (and travel if necessary) for employees to attend what are referred to as “open enrollment” retirement seminars.
  • Have books, pamphlets and other material in their training or human resources libraries, or self-learning center.

If your agency has no easily accessible resources to help you in pre-retirement planning, you can engage in self-help.

The OPM website has a series of brochures (beginning with the letters RI) on their website. These brochures cover most important areas of retirement.

The Thrift Savings Plan also has informational publications and videos to help you understand the role of the TSP in your retirement. You can use the search feature on these websites to locate information of interest.

You can also purchase books on retirement from sources such as FEDweek. FEDweek has reasonably priced books on CSRS, FERS and the TSP.

I’ve written several books as well on federal retirement. See the links in my bio below.

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.

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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.

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