Retirement Planning Tips

Several tips and other pieces of information that employees should be aware of as they prepare for retirement:
  • Keep copies of all your retirement documents, including the application you have completed. That way, if an issue should arise, you can check to see how the form was completed or the choices that you made. Check dates, spelling, and the accuracy of your Social Security number and other personal information on all paperwork submitted to OPM from your agency.
  • If you move after you retire, be sure to let OPM know where you are. And don’t forget to tell the folks at the Thrift Savings Plan, too. If they can’t find you, they may suspend your retirement payments, or declare your TSP account abandoned.
  • If you receive correspondence from OPM, don’t ignore it. It may have a date that you must respond by or an action will automatically take effect.
  • If you experience an unusual or significant change after you retire (marriage, death, divorce or any other event that might impact your retirement), be sure to notify OPM. Also, go back and read the instructions for the CSRS or FERS retirement application. For example, if you get divorced after you retire, the survivor election you made at the time of retirement will be void.
  • If you are divorced, your former spouse can no longer be covered under your Federal Employees Health Benefits Program self-and-family enrollment. I heard a tale of an employee who carried his ex-wife as a family member on his enrollment for 14 years before the error was discovered. As a result, the former spouse owes her medical providers more than $400,000 for services that were paid by health insurance that she didn’t really have.
  • If your spouse dies, be sure to notify OPM as soon as possible. The agency will have to adjust the retirement payment back to the date of death and begin the survivor’s annuity. The longer this is left undone, the more money OPM will have to recover from the survivors.
  • If you make a change to your health plan in the open season prior to your retirement, it won’t be finalized until your retirement claim is finalized. This could take five to eight months, or longer. In the meantime, the open season change will take effect and the premiums will be retroactive to the open season effective date, but your new health plan will not be notified until your retirement claim is processed at OPM. The problem is if you have to use the new health plan, you will have to contact OPM once you’re placed in interim retired status so that your new insurance carrier can be notified that you have changed coverage. You should save a copy of Form SF-2809, Employee Health Benefits Registration, to show you submitted the open season change.
  • About 65 percent of the errors on retirement claims submitted to OPM involve FEHBP and federal Employees Group Life Insurance forms. In many of these cases, the agency has not documented the five years of coverage required for employees to continue their FEHBP and FEGLI coverage into retirement.