CSRS and FERS federal employee retirement benefits are generous, however they will cost you retirement dollars, especially for health and life insurance coverage. Uncle Sam will continue federal employee's health benefits, as long as you were enrolled in the program for the last five years of your service, however you must pay the same monthly amount that you paid while working. You can also continue life insurance coverage and if you participated in the Thrift Savings plan you have many withdrawal options to consider.
Retirement benefits and insurance options for federal employees include your basic annuity, Social Security in many cases, Social Security Offset for certain FERS retirees, Thrift Savings Plan withdrawals, and numerous insurance options that you can opt to carry into retirement.
It is best to review each area listed on the Benefits and Insurance Menu to fully understand your options and the impacts associated with your selections. Consult your benefits specialist while still employed to insure you make the correct elections when you fill out your retirement paperwork. You can also contact each program office for clarifications and consider professional advice if you have complicated issues to address such as care for a disabled dependent or complex estate planning and financial concerns.
Care must be exercised, otherwise you risk missing out on benefits that you
earned or you could jeopardize the well being of your spouse and dependents by
making inappropriate elections. Another issue to consider when you decide to
leave is proper beneficiary designations for your insurance coverage, annuity,
Thrift Plan and other investments and savings. Many times, beneficiaries that
were designated years ago have changed. While I was manager at a major FAA
facility there were numerous instances when an employee or retiree died and the
survivors discovered former spouses or deceased parents were still designated
beneficiaries. As you can imagine, this created considerable hardships for the
survivors and bitter battles between family members.
When you retire OPM should send you a Retirement Services Reference Card. Most retirees that I’ve talked to never receive one. To receive your card call OPM at 1-888-767-6738. I called and received my card in 5 days. Your annuitant claim number and OPM contact information is printed on the back. You can use this card to receive certain discounts and DOD retirees are able to book stays at military resorts with this card.