Retirement can be an incredibly exciting and anxious time for many federal employees. It’s exciting because you may never have to work again, and can make you anxious because it can be quite the task to make sure you aren’t missing anything. Federal benefits are incredible but definitely not simple.
In the hopes of making the retirement process just a bit less stressful, here are a handful of things that you’ll want to check before you retire.
Official Personnel Folder
This folder, which is no longer a physical folder in most cases, contains major records about your career.
When you file your retirement application, your agency and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) go to this folder to calculate your retirement benefits. This makes it critical for you to make sure the information that is in your folder is comprehensive and accurate.
Here are a few things to check specifically:
Date of Birth
Retirement eligibility and pension are both calculated with your age as one of the variables. It is worth a check to make sure that yours is correct.
Your pay may change often during your career because of position changes, step increases, and pay increases. You will want to make sure all your pay raises are accounted for and the applicable starting dates are correct as well. This will help ensure that your high-3 salary will be calculated correctly.
Your SF-50’s document many aspects of your career including pay and length of service. You will want to make sure that your file isn’t missing any SF-50’s from the time you were hired to the current date. Your SF-50’s are especially important because this form is what OPM uses to calculate your pension.
While your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) beneficiaries aren’t stored in your official folder, many other beneficiary forms are (you have to go to the TSP website to update your TSP beneficiaries). You will want to make sure that you have updated beneficiaries for things like your pension and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI).
Your insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) is one of the best benefits that federal employees enjoy. Keeping it into retirement is a really important aspect of most federal employees’ retirement plans.
To be able to do so however, Feds must have been enrolled in FEHB continuously for the last 5 years before retirement. You will want to make sure that your folder documents your coverage well.
If you have military service, you will want to make sure it is documented in your file, especially if you plan on making a deposit for that service. If you haven’t made a deposit yet you might consider doing that soon because interest increases the cost every year. If you have made a deposit, make sure there is proof of payment in your folder.
It may seem silly to check simple things like a date of birth, but these small details have delayed many federal employees’ retirements as they were being sorted out. The best thing to do is to make sure your records are correct well before your retirement date to give yourself the best chances of retiring when and how you’d like.