Question for Federal Govt Retirees

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LuigiLikesPizza
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Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by LuigiLikesPizza » Wed May 16, 2018 2:02 pm

I am closing in on one year remaining, but plan to take a lot of leave during this last year, so it feels closer to me somehow. (Maybe I am just too anxious to leave)

Did you take any specific actions in that last year to plan or prepare? (related to fed pay and benefits)

My understanding is that I can apply for a pension *estimate* in advance?

I won't need the pension income immediately after leaving, but how far in advance did you turn your paperwork in?

I'm debating how far in advance I should notify my management that I plan to leave. I don't want to tick them off and then have them try to make my remaining months miserable. Our field is complicated, it takes at least 15 or more years in this field before someone is considered reasonably competent, so they are likely to replace me with someone less knowledgeable (who knows they may want to do that lol).

I am already trying to contain my glee....trying to avoid handing out project approvals like candy. Could make them suspicious.

123
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by 123 » Wed May 16, 2018 2:07 pm

From what I've heard some federal govt retirees just give notice the last day (surpise) and go home. If you don't need immediate cash that could be an option, though you might have to consider how health care coverage works.

If long-term training/experience is needed for a replacement it may not do you much good to give much advance notice if their replacement personnel options are limited. Believe it or not they (the government) will be able to get along just fine without you, they'll muddle through, kinda like they do now.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

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TimeRunner
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by TimeRunner » Wed May 16, 2018 2:35 pm

Read this thread from 2014: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=126968
"What'd ya expect in an opera, a happy ending?" -Bugs Bunny. "You gotta fight for your right to party!" -Beastie Boys

GCD
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by GCD » Wed May 16, 2018 2:37 pm

LuigiLikesPizza wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 2:02 pm
I am closing in on one year remaining, but plan to take a lot of leave during this last year, so it feels closer to me somehow. (Maybe I am just too anxious to leave)

Did you take any specific actions in that last year to plan or prepare? (related to fed pay and benefits)

My understanding is that I can apply for a pension *estimate* in advance?

I won't need the pension income immediately after leaving, but how far in advance did you turn your paperwork in?

I'm debating how far in advance I should notify my management that I plan to leave. I don't want to tick them off and then have them try to make my remaining months miserable. Our field is complicated, it takes at least 15 or more years in this field before someone is considered reasonably competent, so they are likely to replace me with someone less knowledgeable (who knows they may want to do that lol).

I am already trying to contain my glee....trying to avoid handing out project approvals like candy. Could make them suspicious.
Yes, you can get a pension estimate in advance. Talk to your HR people. Unless there is something goofy in your agency your supervisor won't know and HR will work directly with you.

I pre-planned extensive use of sick leave. Plan to take elective surgeries toward the end. As you probably know, SL is less useful at retirement than AL. SL gets attached to your years of service in 30 day blocks. Anything over a 30 day divisor is wasted. But you need a doctors note to burn more than 3 days of SL. So you might pre-plan anything elective and your doctor approved recuperation time to burn any hours in excess of an exact multiple of 30.

I turned my paperwork in about 60 days before. Talk to YOUR agencies HR people about this. OPM handles pension payments, not your agency (since you don't actually work for your agency anymore after retirement). OPM says the widely differing experiences of how smooth your retirement payments go is agency dependent. Some suck, some are good. YOUR agency HR people may want to see your retirement papers earlier or later than mine. Too early and it can get lost. Too late and they don't have enough time to process it without mistakes.

You know your agency culture better than mine. However at my agency everyone was well aware that nobody is irreplaceable and it was smiles and congratulations all around come retirement time. Nobody would ever have their life made miserable by management for retiring where I worked.

delamer
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by delamer » Wed May 16, 2018 2:40 pm

According to the retirement rep for my agency, the paperwork is processed not in the order it is submitted but in order of the date of retirement. So the people retiring the soonest get their paperwork processed first.

About 2 months in advance was the recommended date to submit the papers. Seems to me that is a good time to tell your management too.

Keep contact information for your retirement rep (e-mail and phone). My interim payment began on time, but it was less than 40% of my final payment. I had to contact my rep to get my final payment calculated and it took 9 months to get it (and my back payments due) after my retiremt date.

Yes, you can get an estimate from HR as to your benefit. But the calculation is straightforward if you’ve always worked full-time and under one plan (FERS or CSRS). You can easily do it yourself.

EDIT: Make an appointment with your agency’s retirement rep at least 90 days in advance to get help with the paperwork. Don’t make it a “do it yourself” project — you don’t know what you don’t know.
Last edited by delamer on Wed May 16, 2018 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Taylor Larimore
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by Taylor Larimore » Wed May 16, 2018 2:40 pm

LuigiLikesPizza:

I am a retired federal employee.

In my opinion, the right thing to do is to give your employer enough advance notice to find a replacement and enough time to complete your own retirement papers as much as possible before retiring.

Best wishes.
Taylor
Last edited by Taylor Larimore on Wed May 16, 2018 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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gtd98765
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by gtd98765 » Wed May 16, 2018 2:42 pm

At my agency we can ask for a retirement estimate any time once we are eligible for retirement, or within a year of that. This is done by the HR retirement office and I doubt they contact your manager. Certainly this is good thing to do ahead of time, since during a manual review they might uncover something missing in the file. This happened to me; it took them a couple of months to track the right piece of paper down - it was probably in the warehouse shown in the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark - but they did. They also marked the file complete/certified, so when I actually do retire, that manual check does not have to happen again.

3504PIR
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by 3504PIR » Wed May 16, 2018 2:57 pm

I'm in exactly the same boat with about 1 year left having just had a birthday this month (I never thought birthdays would matter so much after turning 21!).

I don't know about notification of management - I would ask HR that question or hopefully someone else will know the answer. My management heard a rumor and asked me straight up if I was leaving in a year. I had informed my direct supervisor and assumed he would pass that on but didn't. Luckily, I could care less about them knowing but I would ask in your situation.

I recently had a meeting with HR to review my status, confirm what I thought about retirement and ask some questions. My meeting was very good as everything I thought was true for the most part although I did learn I had to be at work my last day which was something I wasn't aware of but am glad I found out.

I recommend having a similar meeting with your HR to go over all this, particularly what they think your dates of service are. You apply for retirement 1 year in advance and you select either immediate or deferred retirement depending on your status. It sounds as if you will be submitting a deferred retirement based on your OP. The one drawback of deferred retirement is that your life insurance will expire and you won't be eligible for it again. This didn't concern me as I don't plan to keep my life insurance into retirement. You should confirm that your health insurance will be covered under a deferred retirement if that is also a concern of yours. I don't plan to use my health insurance as I'm retired military.

Additionally, you can request a retirement estimate, which is recommended although the estimate uses your current data to calculate your retirement, rather than your actual data projected at your retirement. The calculations for retirement pay are fairly straight forward on the OPM website.

I haven't decided when I'll take the pension but am leaning toward immediate just to avoid future hassle which is probably not that big of a deal, but my instinct is to put the government behind me as quickly as I can...

Thanks for starting this thread and I hope to read some interesting replies.

trueblueky
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by trueblueky » Wed May 16, 2018 3:03 pm

Apply for the pension estimate now! It will give you a chance to review the records your agency has on your service and to correct any mistakes or omissions. Military service, temporary service, service in multiple agencies, a mix of FERS and CSRS or a mix of law enforcement and non-law enforcement can cause errors.

Apply several months in advance. Your agency will send the paperwork to OPM. If OPM doesn't receive a complete packet, they'll query your agency for more info. Better to have it right the first time.

Sign up for the free weekly retirement column from Government Executive.

Sign up for a retirement workshop. These vary by agency. In general, you are entitled to attend within five years of retirement, so attending one does not mean you are retiring tomorrow.

Save your leave! You get paid for annual leave as if you had worked those days, so 30 days of annual gets you a lump-sum at retirement equal to three pay periods. This is important because your first annuity check(s) will be less than the correct amount. The first one will likely be delayed. Your accumulated sick leave counts for years of service -- I added more than twenty months that way.

Check all your beneficiary designations -- TSP, pension, FEGLI, etc.

Determine when is the best day to retire (Government Executive publishes this annually). For CSRS, the first three days of a month are best. For FERS, the last day of the month. If one of those happen to fall at the end of a pay period, better. If you have significant annual leave, it can help to retire so that the lump sum is paid after the COLA hits.

Consider taxes. A lump sum in December is probably not a good idea.

To max your TSP for the year, you may need to increase your per pay period contribution during the final year.

Look.at your leave and earnings statement to see how much of it goes for expenses you will no longer have (retirement contribution, Medicare, FSA), expenses that will stay the same (FEHB, dental/vision, possibly FEGLI -- but remember that the health insurance will no longer be pretax), expenses that will change (state, local, federal tax).

See what your Social Security will be at various ages. Correct that record if it has missing years or income.

trueblueky
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by trueblueky » Wed May 16, 2018 3:08 pm

3504PIR wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 2:57 pm
I'm in exactly the same boat with about 1 year left having just had a birthday this month (I never thought birthdays would matter so much after turning 21!).

I don't know about notification of management - I would ask HR that question or hopefully someone else will know the answer. My management heard a rumor and asked me straight up if I was leaving in a year. I had informed my direct supervisor and assumed he would pass that on but didn't. Luckily, I could care less about them knowing but I would ask in your situation.

I recently had a meeting with HR to review my status, confirm what I thought about retirement and ask some questions. My meeting was very good as everything I thought was true for the most part although I did learn I had to be at work my last day which was something I wasn't aware of but am glad I found out.

I recommend having a similar meeting with your HR to go over all this, particularly what they think your dates of service are. You apply for retirement 1 year in advance and you select either immediate or deferred retirement depending on your status. It sounds as if you will be submitting a deferred retirement based on your OP. The one drawback of deferred retirement is that your life insurance will expire and you won't be eligible for it again. This didn't concern me as I don't plan to keep my life insurance into retirement. You should confirm that your health insurance will be covered under a deferred retirement if that is also a concern of yours. I don't plan to use my health insurance as I'm retired military.

Additionally, you can request a retirement estimate, which is recommended although the estimate uses your current data to calculate your retirement, rather than your actual data projected at your retirement. The calculations for retirement pay are fairly straight forward on the OPM website.

I haven't decided when I'll take the pension but am leaning toward immediate just to avoid future hassle which is probably not that big of a deal, but my instinct is to put the government behind me as quickly as I can...

Thanks for starting this thread and I hope to read some interesting replies.
Another caveat on delayed pension is that there is no inflation protection during the years of delay.

2cents2
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by 2cents2 » Thu May 17, 2018 8:22 am

123 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 2:07 pm
From what I've heard some federal govt retirees just give notice the last day (surpise) and go home. If you don't need immediate cash that could be an option, though you might have to consider how health care coverage works.
I only know of one person who went this route and the only person who was really negatively impacted was the retiree. It doesn't really impress the personnel folks who process the paperwork all that much. And, they don't stay overtime to process paperwork just because it was submitted with less than optimal notice--they get to it when they get to it.

Having said all that, paperwork does not get sent to OPM until a person actually retires no matter how far in advance it is submitted. The reason is there could always be a last minute change of mind about retirement. The reason the personnel folks want the application so early (60 days is the recommendation) is so they can make sure they have everything.
Reducing Delays in Processing

You can help reduce delays in processing by submitting your application in advance and by making sure your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) is complete. If you submit your paperwork early, your personnel and payroll offices will be able to complete their action before your retirement date.
https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services ... #url=Apply

The personnel office makes also sure all the t's are crossed and all the i's are dotted on the application. And, they make sure you have submitted all the appropriate supporting documentation-- such as a marriage certificate if you are married, et'c.

This is a good web site for retirement topics.
https://forum.federalsoup.com/default.aspx?g=topics&f=9

There is a thread on recent OPM experience https://forum.federalsoup.com/default.a ... post451269
The thread was started in 2011, but it is still being updated (go to the last page for more relevant info).

This is the info OPM has on the average time to process. (It looks like they aren't running as far behind as they were when I retired 7 years ago).
https://www.opm.gov/about-us/budget-per ... status.pdf

ColoRetiredGirl
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by ColoRetiredGirl » Thu May 17, 2018 8:47 am

Burning through all your annual leave may not be wise as your pension funds may be delayed a few months or more depending on how complicated your government history would be to compute. I added over 1 year towards my retirement (pension) calculation by not using my sick leave. I would give your employer at least 60 Days notice. Contact your HR department about what you need to consider such as wills (my agency paid for it), health insurance, life insurance, best dates to leave or anything you maybe leaving on the table.

stan1
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by stan1 » Thu May 17, 2018 8:52 am

My agency offers a two day class for employees planning to retire within the next 5 years. Topics include a lot of information about when to submit paperwork and timing of leave. I'm not in that group but everyone I know who has taken it says it was very helpful. Maybe your agency has the same training available?

2cents2
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by 2cents2 » Thu May 17, 2018 9:37 am

But, back to the original question--1 year out:

Here is a link to OPM's guidance:
https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services ... -Year-Away
https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services ... hin-Months

As others have said is review your OPF and make a copy of it.

Some other things that I can think of:
I'll echo Stan1's recommendation--see if your agency offers a retirement class. Ideally, it would be better to take this prior to the T-5 year point, but better late than never.

Make a post retirement budget.
Live on your expected post retirement income.
(Since you are a boglehead, I am assuming that you already have a healthy retirement/emergency fund that would cover you until you are finalized.)

Pick your retirement date. Link to suggested optimal retirement dates:
https://www.myfederalretirement.com/pub ... 8-2019.cfm

As far as giving your boss notice. That is a tough one. I had a really terrific boss. My job required an extended OJT period, but the boss couldn't fill my slot until I was actually gone. I gave plenty of notice so that the boss could make scheduling decisions for my co-workers after my departure. Obviously, the closer to my retirement date the fewer special assignments I received especially if they would continue beyond my retirement date. I felt a "little" irrelevant, but not so much that I changed my my mind about retirement. :D

rkhusky
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by rkhusky » Thu May 17, 2018 9:56 am

trueblueky wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 3:03 pm
-- but remember that the health insurance will no longer be pretax
Hadn't heard that before.
trueblueky wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 3:08 pm
Another caveat on delayed pension is that there is no inflation protection during the years of delay.
There is no pension COLA until you are 62, whether you delay or not.

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dm200
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by dm200 » Thu May 17, 2018 10:30 am

Not a federal employee or retiree - but I know quite a few -

Fully research health insurance choices and options BOTH as a retiree BEFORE and AFTER medicare. Make 100% sure you are insured on the federal plan for 5 years as well as dependents. [A friend of mine was hit with this when he retired and had been on his wife's - not federal - insurance ]

I know federal retirees who have (after full research) chosen to pay for Medicare Part B and some who have not.

trueblueky
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by trueblueky » Thu May 17, 2018 11:49 am

rkhusky wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 9:56 am
trueblueky wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 3:03 pm
-- but remember that the health insurance will no longer be pretax
Hadn't heard that before.
It is the law for all, not just feds. Health insurance can be pretax from salary. It cannot be pretax from pension.

trueblueky wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 3:08 pm
Another caveat on delayed pension is that there is no inflation protection during the years of delay.
rhusky wrote:There is no pension COLA until you are 62, whether you delay or not.
There is no FERS pension COLA until 62 or you start your pension, whichever is later. There is no CSRS COLA until you start, which could be before 62.

LuigiLikesPizza
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by LuigiLikesPizza » Thu May 17, 2018 12:03 pm

Insightful commentary, thank you. I will definitely sign up for GE.

Some of this does not relate to my situation (retiring after only 10 years of service).

It is my intention to leave on a good terms, however, my organization is full of challenging personalities. Enough said on that. Everyone is replaceable of course, my field just requires a lot of very precise certifications that take years to acquire - hence the issue. Believe it or not, I am still considered a new employee (ha!)

I will ask for the meeting with the HR rep. Have been planning to live on withdrawals anyway until the pension(s) begin (I have another pension coming as well).

Thanks, I have taken a lot of notes from this thread so far.

2cents2
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by 2cents2 » Thu May 17, 2018 1:59 pm

dm200 wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 10:30 am
Fully research health insurance choices and options BOTH as a retiree BEFORE and AFTER medicare. Make 100% sure you are insured on the federal plan for 5 years as well as dependents. [A friend of mine was hit with this when he retired and had been on his wife's - not federal - insurance ]

I know federal retirees who have (after full research) chosen to pay for Medicare Part B and some who have not.
A co-worker who was all set to retire took the retirement class just before he was ready to retire and learned about this (also had been insured under his DW's coverage)--and then had to wait for open season to sign up for health care and then had to wait until the health coverage actually started before his 5 year clock started. (He was super disappointed, but better to find that out prior to retiring. :oops: )

Also, on the dependents--there has to be a survivor benefit in order for the dependents to stay covered on the govt health insurance if the retiree passes away.

There are so many details and potential "gotchas" that are covered in the retirement class that I think it is really worth while (ideally prior to the T-5 year point). There was a company that offered the class (for a fee) to individuals and group training. (It looks like they still offer the group training, but I don't see the individual classes listed on their web site anymore).

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Nestegg_User
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by Nestegg_User » Thu May 17, 2018 4:42 pm

rkhusky wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 9:56 am
trueblueky wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 3:03 pm
-- but remember that the health insurance will no longer be pretax
Hadn't heard that before
In the older days, feds **Couldn’t** pay HI with pre-tax while private sector could! It was changed, so now both can (although I’m not sure that it’s mandatory)

AFA payment of HI in retirement, that’s almost always a definite point that HR/training points out

AFA training, it depends on where you are: in region centers or DC, there’s probably one every week somewhere, for some offices there might be one or two a quarter, while for “remote” employees they might have to have there’s on-line (which can be the worst way, since sometimes in the interaction of a class something unique to the individual comes up and an on-line course doesn’t really allow that)

go over your personnel file closely, especially if you’ve been in more than one agency or location
{i’d been in multiple agencies and multiple locations, had redeposit service, was originally in CSRS (there was no FERS yet when I started, but unfortunately I was involuntary switched to FERS), etc ...so lots to verify and **make copies of**!! {remember, you will loose access to ALL of that once you leave...make sure to get copies of when you started health insurance, your beneficiaries for both your insurance and your retirement benefits})

{your personnel office may be able to give you info on your last days, especially if it would hit on the weekend or on a holiday...but few offices allow for “terminal leave”, where you never need return after AL (none that I was in)}

AFA when to tell your supervisor, it really depends on your level and how you want to go. They can’t replace you until you leave but can start the process beforehand.

trueblueky
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Re: Question for Federal Govt Retirees

Post by trueblueky » Thu May 17, 2018 4:58 pm

2cents2 wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 1:59 pm
dm200 wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 10:30 am
Fully research health insurance choices and options BOTH as a retiree BEFORE and AFTER medicare. Make 100% sure you are insured on the federal plan for 5 years as well as dependents. [A friend of mine was hit with this when he retired and had been on his wife's - not federal - insurance ]

I know federal retirees who have (after full research) chosen to pay for Medicare Part B and some who have not.
A co-worker who was all set to retire took the retirement class just before he was ready to retire and learned about this (also had been insured under his DW's coverage)--and then had to wait for open season to sign up for health care and then had to wait until the health coverage actually started before his 5 year clock started. (He was super disappointed, but better to find that out prior to retiring. :oops: )

Also, on the dependents--there has to be a survivor benefit in order for the dependents to stay covered on the govt health insurance if the retiree passes away.

There are so many details and potential "gotchas" that are covered in the retirement class that I think it is really worth while (ideally prior to the T-5 year point). There was a company that offered the class (for a fee) to individuals and group training. (It looks like they still offer the group training, but I don't see the individual classes listed on their web site anymore).
NARFE offers a series of webinars on retirement -- https://www.narfe.org/federalbenefitsin ... a=webinars
These are free to members. If not a member, the first one costs $39.95 and includes a year's membership, so subsequent ones are free. Several are by Tammy Flanagan, who gives many of the agency seminars and who writes the Government Executive weekly retirement column.

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