Welcome to the Summer issue of the Retire Federal newsletter that covers the latest topics of interest for retiring and retired federal employees. Retire Federal exists to help prepare federal employees for retirement, provide assistance when applying for benefits, and guidance to those who need direction when navigating the maze of all the parts of your retirement benefits that fit together for financial independence.
What YOU Need to Know
OPM implemented a new online process: OPM's electronic system for retirees and survivors is called Services Online. OPM sends new retirees and survivors access information shortly after they receive the application. Like many online systems, OPM has added additional security features. NOTE: A new username and password will be required via Login.gov along with a special code to authenticate identity and process accounts. Visit OPMs frequently asked questions about this new system for Services Online users.
TSP changes are here: TSP has introduced new features thanks to a new record keeping system. NOTE: You will need to set up a new login for the new My Account. The historical documents did not transfer to the new system. They will be available by calling TSP's ThriftLine.
Reminder on FERS Annuity Supplement: The annual earnings test applies to most retirees who receive the FERS Annuity Supplement . This adjustment will be made with the July annuity payment that you will receive on August 1st. For special groups such as law enforcement officers and firefighters, the earnings limit doesn't apply until after you reach the FERS Minimum Retirement Age (55 - 57, depending on your year of birth). The FERS Annuity Supplement ceases at age 62 when you are eligible to apply for your Social Security benefit. It is your choice of when to apply. Most can apply online at www.ssa.gov.
CSRS Offset: Those who retire under the CSRS Offset plan will see their annuity from OPM reduced when they reach age 62 or immediately upon retirement if age 62 or over. The amount of the Offset is based on the portion of Social Security benefit earned while covered by CSRS Offset. It is your choice of when to apply for your Social Security benefit. To apply online visit www.ssa.gov. It is possible your Social Security benefit will be affect by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) if you have less than 30 years of substantial earnings.
Medicare Ready? Close to turning 65? You may be getting bombarded by marketing mailings from various health insurance companies. The first thing to know is the Federal Employees Health Benefits(FEHB) program does not currently require you to enroll in Medicare. Original Medicare has two parts: A and B. Part A is for Hospitalization and you have been paying the tax for it while employed. Most find it good to prepare for emergencies by signing up for Part A as there is no additional cost once you are no longer employed. Part B is for Medical Insurance, but there are premiums charged, based on your income.
You can wait to apply for Medicare Part B if you are still working. Tricare for Life does require you to apply for Medicare Parts A and B when you turn 65. Tammy has presented several webinars that are archived on the NARFE Federal Benefits Institute that cover the various choices, options, and decision points when contemplating the "to B" or not "to B" Medicare decision. She will be giving another one in September. More information is below in Learning Opportunities.
The Retire Federal Team is available for consultations to assist you in navigating the decision points about applying for Medicare.
Checklist for retiring from federal service:
Consult with a certified financial planner to get a big picture of your finances and to strategize tax planning for retirement.
Chat with your spouse if you are married to make sure you are on the same page.
Talk with your Benefits and/or Retirement Specialist in HR or Shared Services Office to:
Ensure you are eligible to retire.
Verify your retirement service computation date (SCD).
Request a final retirement estimate for your planned date.
Electronic Official Personnel Folder (eOPF) to verify all your civilian and military service is documented. Be sure you have completed military service credit deposit, if necessary.
Court order if you have a former spouse to be sure you are aware of any apportionment of your retirement or whether survivor benefits have been awarded.
Certification for LEO, Firefighters, ATC, Customs & Border Protection Officers or other employees eligible for an enhanced retirement benefit. Verify your agency has provided certification documenting service requirements in your eOPF.
Have a minimum of six months of living expenses available in case of delays. Retirement claims are taking 3 - 6 months to finalize due to an ongoing backlog of cases.
Locate a copy of your marriage certificate, if you are married at the time of retirement.
90 days or more before anticipated retirement date
Watch Tammy's recent webinar Preparing Retirement Forms: Costly Errors and How to Avoid Them on National Active and Retired Federal Employees' (NARFE) Federal Benefits Institute website.
Complete SF 2818, Continuation of Life Insurance Coverage if you have FEGLI coverage. Complete it even if you don't want to continue it. The form gives you the option to elect to cancel the coverage. The Basic coverage allows you to elect an option to keep 25% of the value for the rest of your life with no cost after you turn age 65.
Retire Federal is here to help if you want a review of your application before you submit it to your agency.
60 - 120 days (based on your agency's protocol)
Submit your completed retirement application to allow ample time for processing so that your application will be close to the top of the queue of applications for processing on the same retirement date. Check with your agency's human resources office for details on the appropriate process.
Keep a copy of what you submit.
30 - 60 days
Make a copy of your eOPF for future reference as you will lose easy access to it once you are off the agency's rolls - especially any SF 50, Notification of Personnel Actions documenting your service and salary history, Special Provision certification, military deposit "paid-in-full" statement.
Your HR or Shared Services representative will contact you regarding specifics on your application and should give you the opportunity to review the "Certified Summary of Federal Service" portion of your retirement application and provide you with an updated retirement estimate based on your elections. Ask them to complete the "Request for Employment Information" if you retire past the age of 65 and have delayed applying for Part B of Medicare.
Ask for a copy of the application package submitted by HR to Payroll.
Incur services and products expenses for any eligible FSA items.
Do what you want!
Within 45 - 60 days after Retirement Date
Keep a copy of your final Earnings and Leave Statement documenting your sick leave balance.
Payroll will complete their portion of your retirement application and forward to OPM.
OPM will mail to the home address you put on your application information to enroll in Services Online.
You should receive your first interim retirement check from OPM.
You should receive your lump sum annual leave payment.
You will have access to withdraw TSP funds starting about 30 days after you retire.
Respond to any OPM correspondence request. This will include information on making a civilian deposit or redeposit.
3 - 6 months or so after Retirement Date
OPM will mail your Retirement Booklet summarizing how your retirement was calculated. It includes your total retirement contributions. This number is used to calculate the amount of the tax free portion of your annuity.
OPM will catch up on the amount of back pay owed especially for the Annuity Supplement.
You can now use Services Online to tell OPM the dollar amount to withhold for federal and state taxes, change your address, etc.
Plan your Federal Retirement Podcasts with Tammy Flanagan and Micah Shilanski, CFP, provide fun and informative retirement planning guidance.
Retirement Planning is Tammy's weekly column appearing on www.govexec.com. It covers what you need to know for a successful transition to retirement. Get the latest stories and updates sent to your inbox every Friday.
For Your Benefit airs live on Mondays at 10 am EST and is available as a podcast wherever you normally get your podcasts. Here are some recent topics:
Best Dates to Retire
Busting Common Retirement Myths
TSP Update from the Experts
Marybeth Franklin, a Social Security expert
Your Turn with Mike Causey airs live on Wednesdays at 10 am EST and is available as a podcast wherever you normally get your podcasts.
Retire Federal is available to provide one-on-one consultations on all your important retirement benefit decisions. We help mid-career employees who are making important career decisions as well as employees who are ready to set the date and have us review their retirement forms.
Upcoming webinars at the NARFE Federal Benefits Institute:
September 29th, 2022 at 2 pm EST, Is Medicare Part B Right for You.
Visit the NARFE Federal Benefits Institute to register.
NARFE members have access to a series of webinars on federal benefits, financial planning and other topics relevant to planning for and living your life after retirement.
COMING IN THE NEXT NEWSLETTER
Insurance coverage review
Life Insurance (FEGLI): Do you still need all of it? Do you still carry Family Option?
Health Insurance (FEHB): Is it time to make a change?
Dental & Vision (FEDVIP): Do you need to see the dentist? Is it time to get a new pair of glasses?
Long Term Care (FLTCIP): How are you going to pay for personal care i.e. someone to help feed, bath, dress or assist if you lose cognitive abilities?
Is it time to update?
Designation of Beneficiaries.
Information on what needs to happen when you or an eligible family member passes away.
Change of address.