Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I begin to plan for retirement?
Retirement planning can be very complex. It is always best to start as early as possible. You can request an estimated federal annuity report from the Benefits Office. The report will provide you with an idea of how much you would receive from your federal annuity. You can also obtain your estimated Social Security retirement benefits (if eligible) by visiting this link. It is also highly recommended to have a Thrift Savings plan or another retirement savings plan (such as IRA) to maximize your retirement savings. You should meet with a financial advisor to help you determine whether you have sustainable income that will meet your needs and allow you to live comfortably after retirement.
Retirement workshops are also provided to employees. Employees receive an invitation to the mid-career retirement planning seminar when they are eligible to retire within ten to fifteen years. Employees will also receive an invitation to the pre-retirement planning seminar when they are eligible to retire within five years. Employees are encouraged to attend a few seminars in order to ensure that they fully understand their retirement plans.
I want to apply for retirement. Where do I start?
First, you should notify your unit supervisor as soon as possible by submitting a letter of intent to retire. Staff employees should submit the letter to their supervisors at least two weeks prior to their dates of retirement. Faculty should notify the Department Chair at least one semester in advance of their retirement dates. Clerc Center teachers should submit the letter to the Principal and the Human Resources Coordinator at least three months prior to their retirement dates. It is highly recommended to notify your unit supervisor as early as possible to allow for planning purposes.
You should then schedule an appointment with the Benefits Office to complete the retirement paperwork. It is recommended that the appointment is set up at least one month prior to your retirement date. You should bring a voided check (for direct deposit of your annuity) and if married, a copy of your marriage certificate.
Who processes my application for retirement?
The Benefits Office will ensure that the application forms and necessary documents are completed. After you receive your final paycheck, the paperwork will be mailed to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). OPM will become your new personnel office and will be responsible for processing your annuity claims.
I have heard that it takes a while to receive the first check. How can I speed up the processing time?
The Payroll Office cannot process your Individual Retirement Record until after you are terminated in the payroll system. The Individual Retirement Record reflects your pay and service history. OPM uses this record to calculate your annuity. Thus, your paperwork will not be mailed to OPM until after you receive your last paycheck.
It is recommended that you meet with the Coordinator of Benefits and Compensation within one month prior to your retirement date. This will help the Benefits Office ensure that all of your paperwork and documents are mailed out once the Individual Retirement Card is finalized. You could also ensure that your Department sends the Separation Personnel Action Form (PAF) to the Human Resources Services. The PAF is required for the Payroll Office to move forward and terminate you from the payroll system.
When can I expect my first annuity check?
It is highly recommended to have at least two months in savings to help you during the waiting period. Your first annuity check normally arrives within 4-6 weeks after OPM receives your paperwork. You will receive a copy of the paperwork from the Human Resources Services. This will give you an idea when you can expect your first check. You will receive an interim pay, which is a portion of your final annuity. You will continue to receive an interim pay while OPM finish processing your paperwork.
What happens to my unused annual leave and sick leave balances?
You will receive a lump sum of your unused annual leave balance up to the allowable maximum. It will be paid out to you on the same day you receive your last paycheck. It will be a separate deposit from your regular paycheck.
Your unused sick leave balance will be added to your length of service. If you are a CSRS employee, 100% of your unused sick leave balance will be creditable. If you are a FERS employee, you will receive credit for 50% of your unused sick leave if you retire by December 31, 2013. If you retire on January 1, 2014 or later, you will receive credit for 100% of your unused sick leave.
What happens to my health insurance plan after retirement?
Your FEHB (health) insurance plan will continue upon retirement as long as you have it for at least five years before your retirement. Otherwise, it would terminate in 31 days following the end of the pay period in which you separate. You will have the opportunity to enroll into Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC). TCC enables you to continue the same FEHB coverage for up to 18 months. However, you would be responsible for the full amount of the premium plus a two percent for administrative charge. You may also elect to covert to an individual policy with your insurance carrier. This coverage will not be identical to your FEHB plan. For more information, please contact the Benefits Office.
What happens to my dental and vision insurance after retirement?
If you currently have the Delta Dental plan, it will terminate at the end of the month in which you separate. You may elect to continue your coverage for up to 18 months after separation under COBRA. You must pay for the full amount of the premium plus a two percent administrative charge. You may also opt to enroll into the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP) during Open Season. Unlike FEHB, FEDVIP has no five-year rule for continuing coverage after retirement.
If you currently have the dental and/or vision insurance plans under FEDVIP, it will continue upon retirement without interruption. You will receive a direct bill from FEDVIP while you are on interim pay. Your FEDVIP premiums will be deducted from your federal annuity after your annuity is finalized. For more information, please contact the Benefits Office.
What happens to my life insurance after retirement?
If you have the FEGLI life insurance plan, it will continue upon retirement as long as you have it for at least five years prior to retirement. You will complete the form with the Benefits Specialist to elect what you wish to continue after retirement. Otherwise, if you have FEGLI for less than five years, your coverage will continue for an additional 31 days from your retirement date without cost. You may convert the life insurance into a private policy within 31 days after your retirement date.
If you have the Standard life insurance plan, it will terminate at the end of the pay period in which you separate. You may convert the life insurance into an individual policy within 31 days following the end of pay period in which you separate.