Employees should review their official personnel folders—whether that’s in electronic format or still on paper—on a regular basis as a general rule, but it’s especially important in the run-up to retirement. Generally, you’ll want to be sure to look at it within six months to a year before your retirement date so that you can make any corrections or take any actions needed to best position yourself for retirement.

Here are some issues meriting particular attention.

Does your OPF contain information on all service that is creditable towards retirement? Maybe you once worked for the Census Bureau, or served on a temporary Christmas appointment with the Postal Service, or perhaps you held a temporary position with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) during tax season. These may very well be creditable towards retirement. Notify your personnel office immediately if you discover that your file is not complete.

Do you have current beneficiary forms on file? While reviewing your OPF, make note of beneficiary designation forms on file, if any. Keep in mind that not all designations are retained in the OPF — FEGLI, FERS and unpaid compensation will be on file in the OPF, while CSRS and TSP designations are on file with the Office of Personnel Management (and the TSP Service Office, respectively. You may need to update your designations at the time of retirement. Remember, beneficiary designations are not valid unless properly completed, witnessed, and signed and dated by you.

Have you performed active military service? If so, and you do not see your DD 214(s) in the OPF, you must submit copies to the personnel office along with your retirement package.

Have you made a deposit for military service performed on or after January 1, 1956 (Post-56 Deposit)? If you have paid a post-56 military deposit, check your OPF for a copy of the OPM Form 1514. If not included in your OPF, you will need to provide proof of payment with your retirement package. If you have not, and wish to do so, you must begin the process immediately.