Expert's View

Image: Andrey_Popov/

Many of you have worked for the same agency – and even in the same location – for many years, possibly your entire federal career. Others have bounced around but still settled in one spot for their last years on the job. A few have left before being eligible to retire on an immediate annuity (or with any entitlement to an annuity at all).

Whichever description fits you, at some point you’ll decide to leave and move on to a life outside of government service, maybe never expecting to look back.

One of the worst things you can do is retire on the spur of the moment. Whether you do it because you are angry and frustrated or for some other more benign reason, leaving in a lurch and/or leaving in a huff can leave a bad taste in everybody’s mouth. And it won’t do you any good either.

Even if your paperwork is in perfect order – a real rarity – the time it takes your agency to process it and for OPM to put you on the annuity roll means that months will go by before you get your first interim annuity payment. And longer still before you receive your full annuity. Will you be financially able to bridge the gap?

Also, you’d be surprised at the number of departing employees who later come back to work, or at least want to. Will your former agency be willing to take you back? They’ll be a lot more willing to do it if you didn’t leave a series of burning bridges behind you on the way out.

In the office they tell me you’re leaving.
We shall miss your kind face and bright smile.
You will take with you all of the sunshine
That has gladdened our hearts for awhile.

So, even if you’d rather not, put a smile on your face and leave gracefully. You won’t regret it. There are worse – and far less advantageous – ways to be remembered when you leave government.

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