The last few months, I have been hearing from many of my federal friends and clients that they are retiring this year and wondering about their deeper motivations for leaving federal service. The Covid pandemic has lessened as an employment issue and now many federal agencies have ended popular telework polices and are requiring more in-person work at assigned worksites. Maybe they don’t want to go back. Other factors include stressful working conditions at front line agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration, the Customs and Border Patrol, the United States Postal Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Federal employees with heightened on-the-job pressures may naturally eye retirement. While departures from the federal government only increased by around 11,000 in 2022, my sense is that employees who do not want to return to the office are viewing retirement as an attractive alternative.
If you are in this camp or considering moving on for any reason, before you decide to put in your retirement papers there are important issues you should consider.
Below are the ten most asked questions on the minds of employees who are contemplating retirement. Many of these decisions can make the difference of hundreds and thousands of dollars over the long term. Do not postpone tackling these topics. Each question below may affect you now or several years from now. Ask yourself the following to get a sense of your blind spots.
1. Am I eligible to retire?
2. Can I afford to retire?
3. Am I allowed to keep my Federal Health Insurance Plan?
4. Am I allowed to keep my Federal Long-Term Plan?
5. Am I eligible for a Social Security Supplement?
6. When should I elect Social Security?
7. How much life insurance do I need?
8. What should I do about Medicare?
9. Should I transfer my TSP to an IRA?
10. How should I invest my TSP to handle withdrawals and inflation?
Do not wait to the last minute to figure out these questions. Before you submit your retirement application, either go to a retirement seminar or get some professional help to work through these important issues. Financial success can easily be achieved; it only takes a little effort.
Abraham Grungold is a retired federal employee with 36 years of federal service, and through his company AG Financial Services he helps federal employees with their TSP and federal retirement planning and decisions. Mr. Grungold has written over 50 articles regarding the TSP and FERS retirement and been a guest on several podcasts with the Federal News Radio and Government Executive Magazine.