What Are the Most Common Mistakes on Retirement Applications?

These are the most common errors OPM has found on federal employees’ retirement applications in the last couple of years.

The Office of Personnel Management has released a list of the most common errors it finds on federal employees’ retirement applications.

This is important information for federal employees who are nearing retirement to have because any errors made on the application forms will delay OPM’s ability to process the application, thereby increasing the amount of time it takes federal employees to start getting their full annuity payments in retirement.

The errors released by OPM’s Retirement Services are for both FERS and CSRS from Fiscal Year 2019 through July of 2021.

As OPM writes about the findings, “The results of the analysis show significant increases in the following error types, which amount to more than 1.8% of total errors for each year, for retirement packages received under both FERS and CSRS.”

FERS

Error TypeAverage Percentage of Total Accounted ErrorsPercentage of Total Errors (July 2021)
Complete IRRs for covered service not included – CURRENT agency/payroll (Payroll)3.53%2.22%
SF 3107-1 Inaccurate service dates or missing signature (HR) 2.41%2.93%
FICA earnings or pay rates not included, including EO adjustments (HR)2.41%2.49%
Schedule D: Missing (HR)1.02%1.87%
FEHB Proof of 5 years or 1st opportunity – Health Insurance “old & new” codes not documented (HR)7.85%6.13%
FEGLI Proof of 5 years or 1st opportunity not provided (HR) 2.77%2.12%
SF 2818: Elected coverage exceeds permitted coverage (HR) 3.26%2.45%
SF 2818: Not signed (HR)7.79%6.66%
SF 2818: Missing (HR)2.99%2.89%
SF 2821: Not signed (HR)4.84%8.57%
SF 2821: Not signed (Payroll)7.15%12.65%
SF 3107: Not signed (HR)1.43%2.19%
SF 3107: Question #2 is not answered (regarding former spouse) (HR)1.81%0.49%
SF 3107-2: Spousal Consent has unacceptable corrections (HR) 2.93%2.03%
Marriage Certificate not Provided (if survivor annuity elected) (HR)3.84%3.76%
MRP not clarified: Proof of Reserve Retired Pay not included (HR)1.82%1.11%
DD214 or military orders not included (HR)1.95%1.71%
DD214 or military orders do NOT note character of service (HR) 2.12%1.60%
P56 IRR is not marked PAID IN FULL (if submitted with application) (Payroll)5.28%4.03%

CSRS

Error TypeAverage Percentage of Total Accounted ErrorsPercentage of Total Errors (July 2021)
HBPC breakdown for offset service beginning with CY 2003 not provided on IRR (Payroll)3.0%2.90%
FEHB Proof of 5 years or 1st opportunity – Health Insurance “old & new” codes not documented (HR)2.60%2.16%
SF 2821: Not signed (HR)1.05%2.25%
SF 2821: Not signed (Payroll)1.71%3.14%

For additional retirement mistakes and how to avoid them, also see:

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.