2013 COLA Update
Federal retirees in the CSRS and FERS retirement systems will receive a COLA increase
of 1.5% percent in 2014. Complete COLA
information is available on this site. Active fedeal employee's pay will
increase 1% in 2014.
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Many job opportunities are available for federal retirees − and those planning to
retire soon − to earn additional income in retirement. Our
Jobs Board has updated listings targeted
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to their government experience and contacts. You can also explore high
opportunities for those that hold current Security Clearances.
This section outlines what Dennis Damp,
the Lifestyle and Employment Forum Host, experienced the first three months after
he retired from federal service on January 1, 2005. You will find short excerpts from
Dennis' personal journal entries that
describe what you too can expect from OPM and your agency after you
leave. Find out when you can expect to receive your lump sum leave
payment, first estimated payment, and your first full annuity check from
It is important to note that this time line can change depending on
OPM's workload and the number of retiree applications received by
OPM at any given time.
Read on for complete details:
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Request a FREE "Personal Summary of Benefits"
This article outlines what to expect the first three months after retiring based
on my personal experience. I retired January 1, 2005. You will find short
excerpts from my journal entries for key events. If you know of anyone that is anticipating retirement or recently retired
feel free to forward this article to them.
- Learning to slow down and smell the roses.
January 7 (Journal Entry)
It has been a week since I retired and I have to say that I’m pleased with my
new routine. It has been a little difficult slowing down. I still catch myself
pushing to get things done and have to remind myself that I’ll be home tomorrow
and can pick things up then. I’m as busy as I ever was, however I’m having a lot
more fun with the freedom that you have in retirement. I still hesitate to call
this retirement! My routine is to get up at about 7:30 am, make coffee, eat a
light breakfast and then commute about 20 feet to my home office... I intend to
reintroduce myself to one of my hobbies this weekend and also hang some of my
FAA retirement plaques and pictures…
- Sew up loose ends and starting new activities.
January 13 (Journal Entry)
…It took awhile, several days after leaving, for the reality to set it – this
was going to be my new routine for the foreseeable future. I’m adjusting well
and I haven’t had any panic attacks about leaving too early. It is almost like I
haven’t missed a beat and there hasn’t been one day where I was bored and had
little to do.
I called my auto insurance company last week to advise them that I retired and
no longer commute. They reduced my auto insurance premiums about 10%. Not a bad
I’m doing other interesting things. For example, last week I purchased Ben
Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, walking 2 miles each day,
and I purchased Pilates work out bands and additional weights for my hand bar
With all that said I suppose what is really enjoyable is the ability to forget
about doing anything… I went upstairs yesterday at 1:30 in the afternoon to get
a cup of tea. An old movie just came on and I sat down and watched the whole
thing – in the middle of the day! I haven’t done that in YEARS. I’m sleeping
better, more relaxed and oh well, I don’t what to rub it in so suffice to say
I’m having too much fun.
- Received last pay check and pay stub. (Just under three
weeks from departure date)
January 21 (Journal Entry)
I received my last government pay check this week and discovered that once you
retire you can’t access Employee Express… I called their help line and
discovered that retirees are automatically removed from the list when their
retirement personnel action is processed. The good news is that at least I know
that my SF-50 was processed. I haven’t heard anything from OPM yet but it’s
early yet, only three weeks into retirement. OPM offers similar online services
for retirees. However, you need your retirement claim number to log on to their
…My office sent me a copy of my pay stub and I suggest that you keep this copy
with your retirement records. For one thing it shows exactly how much you
contributed to the Thrift Savings Plan. You can calculate your total gains by
dividing your current TSP account balance by what you contributed, the amount on
your last pay stub. Since you can’t contribute any additional funds to your
account your total contribution listed on your last pay stub is your investment
Another reason to keep a copy of your statement is that you will have an
official document that shows the deposits you made during your career...
- Correcting last pay errors and first visit back to office.
January 28 (Journal Entry)
Last Friday Nick and I stopped over at work after meeting for an early
breakfast. It was strange going into the office and having to go through a full
security inspection and pick up visitor's badges
Our agency administrative officer called this week to let me know that my pay
problem will be resolved shortly. They inadvertently charged me 9 hours annual
leave instead of coding the 31st of December as an observed holiday. I'm still
waiting to hear from OPM. Hopefully, I'll hear from them soon and I should
receive my lump sum leave payment by mid February at the latest.
February 4 (Journal Entry)
I received my first annuity payment on February 2nd and it was about 70% of
what I anticipated my full annuity would be. OPM sends out an estimated annuity
payment until they review and certify your retirement paperwork... On Wednesday
of this week I received a letter from the FAA Human Resource office advising me
that my paperwork was sent to OPM on 1/21/05 along with my register number and
new pay office number. I was surprised that just one month after leaving I had
my first payment automatically deposited into my checking account.
February 14 (Journal Entry)
The Thrift Plan sent me a summary of my account along with a pamphlet on
withdrawal options. I received a pay stub for my lump sum payment only 6 weeks
from the day I left, not bad. So far this month I received my first estimated
annuity on the 2nd and 448 hours of pay for my annual leave today. There is
still one small pay problem left to resolve. I and many others who retired on
December 31st were charged 9 hours annual leave instead of holiday (observed)
pay. Uncle Sam still owes me 9 hours of annual leave buy back. Our AO is working
on the issue and assured me that it was an error and would be corrected soon.
Caution: I overdid my exercise routine. I did too much too soon. I may need arch
supports to be as active as I want to be. I really enjoy walking and was
disappointed that I had to stop my daily walks until my feet heal.
- Received annuity statement and letter received from OPM.
February 22 (Journal Entry)
...I received a letter from OPM explaining the interim deductions and payment
process. I also received an annuity statement form R138-23 that looks similar to
the pay stub I received while working. There was a large discrepancy between the
letter and statement’s federal tax deduction. I used OPM’s federal tax on-line
estimator before retiring and my estimated federal tax was about $150 more than
the statement indicated however the letter almost doubled the federal tax
deduction and my interim check was reduced by the larger amount. I called to
clarify the issue early today.
The retirement coordinated explained that OPM takes double the tax due out of
the first estimated payment. They offered to refund what I overpaid in the next
estimated allotment however I declined the offer. I generally owe taxes each
year anyway. The letter goes on to say that I will soon receive a W-4P-A form
that I can use to adjust my federal tax withholding if desired.
It can be difficult reaching OPM by phone especially on the first day of the
week. However, just keep redialing the toll free number and you can generally
get through. Expect to be on hold for 5 to 15 minutes or more.
The retirement coordinator further explained that my health care and life
insurance payments will be deducted and paid to the providers when they finish
processing my application. She was very helpful. I also discovered that you can
have two additional allotments sent each month to banks or credit union
accounts. I am fairly impressed with OPM’s retirement services…
- Received new health care cards and received 2nd estimated annuity check.
(Two months after leaving)
March 3 (Journal Entry)
..I went online to check my bank account statement and discovered that another
annuity deposit was made on March 1st, just like clock work. The annuity check
increased because they took out the correct amount of federal taxes this time.
My wife and I received new Health Care cards this week. I called Health America
to see why new cards were issued when I had already received new cards in early
January . They explained that retirees are assigned a different group number.
They changed the last digit in the group number to an 8. The coverage remains
I still have one outstanding issue concerning my last pay before retiring.
Our Administrative Officer called this week and said that the problem will be
- OPM processed my retirement application.
March 10 (Journal Entry)
I received a letter from OPM early this week telling me that my retirement
paperwork is complete, and in approximately 4-6 weeks I will receive a booklet
entitled, Your Federal Retirement Benefits. The booklet is personalized with the
retiree's specific information including related benefits. They also sent me
official copies of two forms for my records, my SF-2808 Designation of
Beneficiary for my Civil Service Retirement and a copy of SF-2821 Agency
Certification of Insurance Status for my FEGLI coverage…
- Received OPM Retirement
Booklet outlining my government retirement benefits. (Just under three
months after leaving)
March 15 (Journal Entry)
WOW!!! Do you remember watching the Wizard of OZ while growing up?
Dorothy, towards the end of the movie, clicks her heels together and says over
and over again, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s
no place like home………” That’s how I felt when I opened my mail this weekend. I
received my OPM retirement benefits book entitled, “Your Federal Retirement
Benefits.” The letter I received last week said I would receive this in 4 to 6
weeks. It was a pleasant surprise when I opened my mail Saturday to find this
My annuity was exactly $1 less than the estimates I received before retiring.
What a relief. The booklet gives you tons of valuable information ─ about all
you need to know about your retirement. It includes toll free phone numbers,
Internet, and e-mail addresses to contact if you have questions… The only thing
that I still need is my PIN number to access the OPM retirement site. The
booklet says that it will be sent under separate cover in several weeks…
Exactly 3 months after retirement my paperwork was processed and it all came out
as planned thanks to a lot of pre planning and forethought. If you want to be at
peace in retirement I suggest that you go through the analysis I did, evaluate
where you are and where you will be financially when you decide to exit the
government. You will find a sample and easy to use evaluation spreadsheet with a
free downloadable copy at http://federalretirement.net/retirecosts.htm, Click on "Pre and Post
- Received OPM web site access
March 24 (Journal Entry)
I received my OPM PIN number last Wednesday, only a few days after receiving my
Federal Retirement Benefits booklet and I signed on to the OPM retirement
benefits site late last week at
www.servicesonline.opm.gov/. You can do just about everything that Employee
Express offers employed workers. You can elect a savings bond deduction,
initiate various allotments, change benefits, and much more...
I was also pleased to receive a final "Statement of Earnings and Leave" from the
FAA correcting the annual leave that I was incorrectly charged on December 31st.
Overall, I have to say that my initial concerns were unfounded, everything has
gone smoothly and so far without a hitch.
While reviewing my Federal Retirement Benefits booklet I discovered a very
interesting fact that spouses of federal retirees will appreciate knowing. I
should have been aware of this but I didn't focus on it until I sat down this
week and did the math. When you sign up for full survivors benefits your spouse
will receive 55% of your full annuity. Your annuity decreases by approximately
10% when you elect full survivors benefits. What this means is that your spouse
will receive 55% of your full annuity and in my case my wife will receive 73% of
our current reduced annuity. The only reason I mention this is that spouses know
what you get per month and automatically think they are going to get 55% of what
you are getting now. That's not true. Your annuity is reduced when you elect
survivors benefits. My wife was pleased to hear that she will be getting 73% of
what we are getting now, not 55%...
- Received Annuity Adjustment notice from OPM. Also received FAA retirement
plaque. (First full annuity check received three months after retiring)
March 30 (Journal Entry)
I received a Notice of Annuity Adjustment, form R138-23, in the mail this week.
It shows the final annuity with standard deductions for FEGLI, health benefits,
and federal taxes. My first full annuity check will be deposited April 1st into
my checking account. Last Thursday I stopped in at work to pick up my retirement
I called Long Term Care Partners to check on how to have my Long Term Care
payments deducted from my annuity. All they needed was my CSA number. They
notify OPM and the deduction will start with the June 1st payment..
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