Helping Federal Employees and Annuitants Understand Their Benefits


Federal Retirement Planning Introduction

Federal Employees Retirement System


Getting Started

Planning Your Retirement

Typically, federal employees start to seriously plan their federal civil service retirement in earnest several years prior to their retirement eligibility date. Others decide early on in their careers to retire early, at age 55 or younger, and plan accordingly to be financially able to leave when the time comes. There are many issues to consider prior to retirement and one of the primary concerns is whether or not you can live comfortably on your annuity and other income sources after you leave government service.

CAUTION – Do This Before You Retire

This site will help you evaluate your personal situation, develop a viable retirement and estate plan, and guide you to the resources you need to make informed decisions.

Getting Started Header

When to Retire Menu

  • Retirement Timeline
  • Early Outs and Buyouts (VERA and VSIP Programs)
  • The realities of retirement - Is It Your Time To Exit?
  • Retirement Eligibility
  • Retirement forms
  • Annuity computations  - Will your annuity be enough to live on in retirement?
  • Retirement cost analysis - Determine you total income and expenses in retirement
  • Retirement Benefits - Summary of the benefits that you can carry into retirement

  • Introduction continued


    There are so many questions that need answered and many issues that must be researched prior to turning in your retirement papers. Everything has to be considered including knowing what you will have to live on, what your current bills are, and what they will be after you retire. You need to know the proper forms to use and what benefits will carry over and who do I want as beneficiaries on my insurance policies, accounts, and investments. This site will guide you step-by-step through this process in the Retirement Costs and Estate Planning sections.

    Many retirees and employees anticipating retirement explore going back to school either to complete a degree, obtain certification for a field of interest, or enroll in an advanced degree course. Others pursue hobbies, find part or full time work, travel or grow a business.

    Many put off compiling critical information that a surviving spouse or loved ones will need. I know we don't like to think about these things. However, just imagine how difficult it will be for your surviving spouse or loved ones if you should die unexpectedly. Who do they call to continue their survivor's annuity! How do they cash in your life insurance policies, where is the safe deposit box key, passwords to on-line accounts, and so on. There is so much information that only you have registered up-stairs or stashed away in a far corner of your home or office. The Survivor and Estate Planning sections outline what your loved ones will need when the inevitable happens.

    Use the main menu at the top of this page to review each topic. Many of your questions will be answered on our site or you will be directed to additional sources when further clarification may be needed. Our "Ask the Experts" service can provide answers for difficult benefits, finance, lifestyle, employment and wellness questions and we offer free online newsletter subscriptions for each service area. You can also request a "Personal Summary of Benefits Review" from a retirement specialist.

    This site also provides links to OPM's web site for specific subjects and we link you direct to that information so you don't have to waste time searching OPM's site. You can use the search feature on this site to find key information fast and we recommend valuable resources, books, and software, that will help you with your retirement, wills and general estate planning. Many of these resources are also available at your local library. I personally used them to develop my family's estate plan, wills and trusts. Everyone should have a basic estate plan and your personal plan can range from a simple will, living trusts, a combination of both - or more if your estate exceeds current death tax limits. 

    Retirement will change your daily routine and It's best to be prepared for this change and know in advance what you will have to live on and what you will actually do in retirement. Some start small businesses, work part time at something they love to do  - such as volunteer work, complete a college degree, pursue hobbies, travel more, work overseas, take cooking lessons, and the list goes on and on. Many of us dream about retirement and long for the day that we can break free from our daily routine and start life anew.  Dreams and reality often conflict and the best way to make dreams come true is to plan to make them happen.

    The key to a successful retirement is proper planning and I am confident that the information provided on this site will help you evaluate your personal situation and design your own unique retirement plan. 

    The Realities of Retirement – Is It Your Time To Exit?
    by Dennis V. Damp (FAA Retired)

    I was one of the “Boomer” statistics, turning 55 with 35 years and 7 months service, and made the decision to cut the cord and go on to other things. I hear from many federal employees and most simply fear the unknown, are apprehensive, and in 90% of the cases unprepared to leave. Many put off making the decision until other factors in their life make the decision for them – typically poor health, inability to keep up with new technology, reorganization and downsizing initiatives, and other factors.

    It has always amazed me that many will spend months researching and planning a vacation and others know every statistic about their fantasy football teams. However, too few spend little to no time researching and planning their retirement. You have to be emotionally, physically, and financially prepared before signing on the dotted line and submitting your retirement papers. I started planning for retirement over a decade before I left and the sooner you start planning and saving the sooner you will be able to leave. The good news is that it’s never too late to start, it just takes a little incentive on your part and some reliable resources for you to get your plan off the ground and running. You can’t or at least shouldn’t leave retirement to chance, it’s far too important to take it as it comes. I would much rather enter retirement on my terms – and I did.

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    Retirement isn’t for everyone and I for one will never really retire. Sure. I retired from the federal sector but I have other coals in the fire and have had them smoldering for years. All a part of my plan. Now that I’m retired the fire is stoked, the steam is up, and things are going well all around and this gets back to my point – you have to be emotionally, physically, and financially prepared and there is no time like the present to start the planning process. If you do nothing else but read the introduction and download and complete the Retirement Costs spreadsheet on this site you will be well on your way to knowing what to expect financially in retirement. The spreadsheet lists both pre and post retirement income and expenses with a column for your survivor. There is an easy to follow sample displayed on this site with explanation and guidance.

    When I was considering retirement the only way I was able to get personal insight on what to expect was to call friends that retired. That’s why I developed this site. The fear of the unknown is one of the primary factors people put off retirement. I am hopeful that our Ask the Expert Forums and the site in general will help ease your concerns and help you make the decision that is right for you.

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