Retirement & Financial Planning
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Federal Retirement & Financial Planning Report

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Retirement Security Weighs Heavily on More Minds The economic downturn had the largely predictable effect of making more Americans more concerned about their retirement security, but years after the recession officially ended those concerns remain, according to a report from the TowersWatson consulting firm. Continue ›
How Marrying After Retirement Impacts Benefits Marriage after retirement can have differing effects on an annuity, depending on the situation. Continue ›
Tackling Debt Before Retirement To make sure you have a more comfortable retirement, pay down your debt while you’re still working. Continue ›
Study Glum on Retirement Preparedness Those approaching retirement today need to be even better prepared for retirement than did prior generations but as measured by one key indicator they are less prepared, according to a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Continue ›
Understanding What a High-3 Includes, and Doesn't Your high-3 for purposes of your annuity calculation is an average of your highest rates of basic pay over any three consecutive years of creditable civilian service, with each and every pay rate weighted by the length of time it was received. Continue ›
Keeping Cash in Reserve When you hear investment professionals speak of "cash," they're not talking about twenty-dollar bills in your dresser drawer. Continue ›
The Key Components of Retirement Income There are five main components to income in retirement, according to a study that found troubling trends emerged during the recent recessionary times. Continue ›
Social Security Survivor Benefit Policies Differ Eligibility for survivors benefits under Social Security differ greatly from the rules applying in the federal retirement program. Continue ›
Preparing for a Lengthier Retirement Many retirees rely upon their investment portfolios to support their lifestyle, in particular IRAs. Continue ›
Approaches Vary to Drawing Down Investments There are three traditional approaches to living on investments during retirement but each has some disadvantages and there is growing attention to a fourth approach, according to a study by the Center for Retirement Research. Continue ›
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Report: Fourteen Retirement Planning Mistakes (updated)

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When you are thinking about retiring, planning might not be everything, but it’s head and shoulders above whatever’s in second place. This is a mistake too many federal employees make: going it on their own. Or relying on water cooler conversations or other conventional wisdom. Even on the odd chance that what you’d hear there is actually correct, the lunchroom lawyer doesn’t know everything you need to understand.

You need authoritative help because federal retirement is more complicated than it looks. So get with it. A pre‐retirement counseling seminar, in person or online, is the best way to go. Most agencies, if they don’t offer them to their retirement-eligible employees already, are willing to pay the enrollment fee for ones offered by private companies - and often let employees have time off to do it. Even if your agency doesn’t provide or pay for pre-retirement counseling seminars, it’s worth it to pay out of your own pocket (for example, you might being sucker‐punched by a little‐known rule that leaves you without health insurance). Seminars are that important. Be prepared with questions – and be ready to be surprised by all the questions and answers that had never occurred to you.

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Report: Understanding the Value of Your Benefits

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Retirement and health insurance long have been considered the foundation of federal employee benefits, what attracts many people to government service and what keeps them there, especially as they get farther into a career.

But just how important are they to employees? Amid all the criticism of the programs from one side as too generous and from another side as not generous enough, what do employee think about them, in terms of their importance, their effectiveness in meeting employees’ needs, and their value?

The answers could go a long way to deciding how federal employee benefits may change in the upcoming years.

That’s especially true in light of the recent record on another big workplace motivator, salary. Year after year an official study shows that federal employees on average are underpaid – most recently, on the order of a third. Year after year Presidents and Congress have ignored those figures, largely because paying salary increases of that size is simply out of the question given the current budget environment.

In fact, no general federal employee raise was paid in 2011, 2012 or 2013, the first time in many decades that there has been a pay rate freeze lasting more than one year. During that time some employees have seen their salaries increase, due to being promoted, changing jobs, moving up the steps of a grade, or (increasingly rarely) as a reward for good performance. But others received no pay increases at all during that time.

With the budget picture improving only a little in recent times, the best employees can hope for in the short run seems to be a token raise. An increase of 1 percent is under consideration for 2014, which mainly would serve to get the government back into its previously long-standing habit of granting at least something every year.

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