Retirement Countdown: Timing Your Transition Wisely

Apr 2, 2024 | Retirement Planning

The transition from employment to retirement involves lots of planning to understand timelines and ensure that all the necessary paperwork is completed accurately. Additionally, it’s important to identify the forms that need to be acquired and submitted.

Because there are so many details to consider, timing is crucial when it comes to the retirement process. Planning well in advance can smooth the transition and help ensure that retirement benefits begin in a timely manner. Ideally, you should start thinking about retirement, at least, a year or two before the intended retirement date. This allows ample time to gather necessary information, consult with retirement advisors, and complete your required paperwork.

Key Milestones in the Retirement Timeline

  • Research and Consultation: Begin researching retirement options and consulting with HR and financial advisors. It may be best to consult with advisors who specialize in federal employee retirement and understand the unique benefits that federal employees have.
  • Check Your Eligibility: Factors such as age, years of service, and retirement plan type influence whether you are eligible for retirement. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provides resources and tools to help federal employees calculate their eligibility and estimated benefits.
  • Notification to Employer: Notify your employing agency or department of your intent to retire. This notification typically occurs several months before the planned retirement date. This allows your agency to initiate the retirement process and prepare the necessary paperwork.
  • Retirement Application: Submit your retirement application to HR. It’s essential to ensure the application is submitted well before the desired retirement date to avoid delays in benefit processing. You can also seek guidance from your advisors to make sure everything is filled out correctly.
  • Work with HR: Work closely with your agency’s human resources department to finalize details such as the effective date of retirement, unused annual leave, and any outstanding paperwork. Ensure all required documentation, such as proof of marriage or birth certificates for survivor benefits, is submitted promptly.
  • Transition Period: Use the transition period between retirement notification and the effective retirement date to tie up loose ends, complete any remaining tasks, and prepare for life after retirement.
  • Commencement of Benefits: Retirement benefits typically commence the first full month after the retirement date. Be prepared for any changes in income and benefits, such as adjustments to health insurance coverage or interim pension payments. Your advisors can also prepare you ahead of time calculating what your income will be in retirement so there are no surprises.

Essential Forms for Retirement

There are lots of forms and documents to initiate and finalize your retirement benefits. Here is a list of some of the essential forms that federal employees need to acquire and submit:

  • SF 2801 – Application for Immediate Retirement (FERS): This form is used to apply for immediate retirement under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). It captures personal information, employment history, and retirement plan elections.
  • SF 3107 Application for Immediate Retirement (CSRS): Similar to SF 2801, this form is used for immediate retirement under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).
  • SF 2809 – Health Benefits Election Form: Federal employees retiring can use this form to elect to continue health insurance coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program into retirement.
  • SF 2818 – Continuation of Life Insurance Coverage as an Annuitant: This form is used to continue Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) coverage into retirement.
  • SF 2821 – Agency Certification of Insurance Status: Required for continuation of life insurance coverage as an annuitant, this form is completed by the employing agency to certify the employee’s coverage.
  • OPM Form 1514 – Former Spouse Survivor Annuity Election: If applicable, this form allows retired federal employees to elect a survivor annuity for a former spouse.

Looking for assistance? We can help!

If you are looking for a guide to help you navigate the retirement process, Benchmark Financial Group can help. It all starts with gathering your information, discussing your goals, and preparing a plan so that we may help you maximize your income in retirement. With the right strategy, you may get your income equal to or exceed your pre-retirement net income. To get started, schedule an appointment today with Benchmark Financial Group by filling out the form online or calling David Raetz at 913-534-8256 to discuss your financial needs. Benchmark Financial Group is happy to help you navigate your options and determine the best path to move toward your financial goals.

*Securities and Advisory Services Offered Through CreativeOne Securities, LLC  Member FINRA/SIPC and an Investment Advisor.  Benchmark Financial Group, LLC and CreativeOne Securities, LLC are not affiliated.

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Overland Park, KS 66210

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