Expert's View

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Reg Jones

Isn’t it a little late in the year to be talking about preparing for retirement at year’s end? Normally, I’d say yes. However, this is an unusual year. What makes it unusual is that the annual leave year ends on December 31, 2022. That means you can retire on the last day of the year, get credit for any annual and sick leave earned during that final pay period, and be on the annuity roll on January 1, 2023. It doesn’t get any better than that!

So, if you are one of those employees who has just seen an opportunity and is ready to seize it, what should you do? Although time is running out, the first thing is to find out if your agency is offering a retirement counseling seminar. If it is, sign up for it.

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Second, meet with your agency’s benefits counselor and look through your OPF (Official Personnel Folder) to be sure that you meet the age and service requirements to retire. Also make sure that all your federal employment and any active-duty military service is recorded there. The same goes for your health and life insurance coverage, especially any designations of beneficiaries for the latter.

If you owe any deposits for prior periods of civilian and military service or if you left government and got a refund of your retirement contributions and haven’t yet paid them back, you’ll need to have to find out what impact that would have on your annuity. If you decide to make a deposit or redeposit, you can do that using standard form SF 2803 (CSRS) or SF 3108 (FERS). You can get a copy from your personnel office or download one at https://www.opm.gov/forms/standard-forms.

If you are either currently receiving or eligible for military retired pay, generally you’ll have to waive that pay and make a deposit for that time before you retire to have it included in your civilian annuity computation. However, if you were awarded that retired pay on account of a disability incurred in combat with an enemy of the United States or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty during a period of war, you won’t have to waive that pay when you make a deposit. Note: If you are receiving or entitled to reserve retired pay, you can receive both that pay and a civilian annuity without a reduction in either.

Two final “ifs.” If you owe any money to your agency, you’ll have to repay it to avoid having your annuity offset to recover the debt. And if a court order assigns a portion of your annuity to a former spouse, you’ll need to find out how that will affect you own annuity.

The last step in the retirement process is to fill out your retirement application: SF 2801 (CSRS) or SF 3107 (FERS). You can get a copy from your personnel office or download one at https://www.opm.gov/forms/standard-forms. After you’ve filled out the form, give the original to your benefits counselor and keep a copy for yourself. If everything checks out, you’ll be ready to retire on the date you’ve chosen.

Next week, I’ll fill you in what your agency must do.

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