Have you completed enough years of service to retire without a reduction in benefits? Have you decided that now is the right time to retire? Wondering how to get the process started?
STEP ONE: PICK A DATE
One of the first major decisions is deciding when to retire. However, there are a few key variables that may impact your decision.
- FERS employees may want to consider leaving as close to the end of the month as possible. HR and OPM won’t start crunching the numbers for your pension payment until the first day of the month after you separate from service. Therefore, you won’t start receiving the interim pension payments until the following month. For example, if you retire on September 30th, HR and OPM will start crunching numbers in October. You won’t start receiving the interim pension payments until November. If you retire mid-month – you’d have two weeks without active pay, in addition to the one-month gap between separating service and interim pension payments.
- Leaving at the end of a pay period is another option. This will allow you to accrue as much sick and annual leave time as possible. It’s important to remember the one year equates to 2,087 hours of sick time, but months are credited in 30-day intervals.
- Retiring at the end of the year is another option you may want to consider. This will maximize the amount of your annual leave, increasing the payment for that leave time. In theory – you can carry over 240 hours from the previous year, accumulate 208 hours in your last year of employment, then get a lump sum payment for all 448 hours when you retire on 12/31 (minus 20% for federal taxes!).
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STEP TWO: CONTACT HR
If you’ve chosen your date, you will want to let your HR department know. They can help you get pension estimates and the documents needed to get the process started. HR typically likes to get your retirement paperwork 90-days out.
STEP THREE: COMPLETE THE FORMS
You also need to decide if you want to tackle completing the forms yourself or seek out assistance getting them filled out and submitted correctly. OPM always has a backlog in processing retirement forms, so any mistakes or missing information will lead to delays. If you have any doubts or questions about completing these forms, you can reach out and schedule an appointment with us. We can help you make sure that everything is in good order.
STEP FOUR: DETERMINE IF YOU NEED TO SET UP A WILL OR TRUST
An essential part of the planning process is getting legal documents in order. Ideally, you want to set your legacy plan, so your family and relatives don’t end up in a difficult situation. Wills and trusts are a crucial part of estate planning. It’s worth doing some due diligence to ensure your assets transfer the way you’d like them to be transferred.
WHAT DOCUMENTS AND STATEMENTS SHOULD I HAVE READY?
Wondering what documents you need to start the retirement process? Here are eight items we recommend:
- Copy of a recent Leave and Earnings Statement
- Copy of your Retirement Estimate, FERS Benefits Statement (from Employee Express, MyPay, Government Retirement & Benefits Platform, etc.)
- Copy of your TSP Statement
- Any other investment statements that you have identified as retirement money (money you would like to include in your retirement plan)
- Detail of life insurance policies or Long-Term care policies you have in force (coverage amounts, face amounts, premiums, etc.)
- Statement from Social Security (You can get one at www.socialsecurity.gov)
- Divorce Decree, if there is one, while you are a federal employee
- Your spouse’s benefits—if you are interested in developing both of your retirement plans
HOW DOES YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION STACK UP?
Talking to a financial professional to create a personalized strategy is key. If you have any questions regarding how to get started with retirement, Benchmark Financial Group is here to help. We will take a closer look at your financial situation because retirement may be closer than you think! 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.