Expert's View

This time of year many of you are on vacation, have just returned from vacation or are getting ready to go on vacation. It’s just not the time to think about your future, even if you are eligible to retire – or at least close to it. Yet I’m here to tell you that when it comes to retirement, planning ahead is everything.

If possible, you should begin that planning at least one year ahead of the date you are thinking about retiring. However, if events conspire to force a quick retirement decision, such as a reorganization or RIF, you’ll need to use whatever time you have to plan ahead. Even a little time, wisely spent, can produce a big payoff.


Over the next few weeks, I’m going to lead you through the steps needed to insure that your retirement will go smoothly.

So here we go.

The first thing you should do is sign up for a pre-retirement counseling seminar. Many agencies schedule those throughout the year. Sometimes they are run by in-house staff, at other times by consultants. If a seminar isn’t being offered at a convenient time (or even offered at all), try to enroll in one run by a private company. In some cases, your agency will pay for it.

Assuming that you are able to attend a seminar, listen carefully, take notes, and ask questions. You’ll be getting the background you need to decide your next steps. One of these is to go to your personnel office and ask to review your Official Personnel Folder. And you can do that even if you haven’t attended a seminar.

Next week, I’ll go other the first thing you need to check when your OPF is sitting in front of you: creditable service.

Read about calculating a federal annuity under FERS and CSRS at