By Reg Jones
When it comes to retirement, planning is everything.
If possible, it should begin at least one year ahead of the date you have set to retire. However, events can conspire to force a quick retirement decision, such as the offer of a “buyout” or a RIF. In those cases, use whatever time you have to plan ahead. Even a little time, wisely spent, can produce a big payoff.
Here’s a checklist for you to follow:
* Sign up for a preretirement counseling seminar at your agency. If your organization doesn’t have one at a convenient time (or offer one at all), consider enrolling in one offered by an outside firm. In some cases, your agency will pay for the course.
* Set up a meeting with an agency benefits counselor to go through your Official Personnel Folder and make sure it includes complete documentation of all of your federal employment (including any military service), the effective dates of each adjustment to your pay, and records of your health benefits and life insurance coverage, plus any designations of beneficiaries you may have filed.
* Verify when you will be eligible to retire and whether you will be able to carry your health and life insurance into retirement.
* Ask for an estimate of your retirement annuity. If you owe any deposits or redeposits to the retirement system, find out the effect on your annuity of making or not making them. If you decide that it’s worth it to make a deposit or redeposit, ask your counselor to show you how to do that.
* Ask for two copies of the necessary retirement forms. Fill one out for your benefits counselor and one for yourself. Your benefits counselor will review the forms and contact you to clear up any questions or problems that may arise.
Once the paperwork is done and you’ve confirmed your retirement date, you can relax.