Everyone looks forward to experiencing the magic and promise of retirement after years of hard work. Perhaps no other category of workers looks forward to retirement more than federal workers because of the sizeable annuities they get after retirement. However, for some federal workers, the fairy tale retirement they look forward to ends as soon as they fill out their retirement application forms.
Some people in this category run foul of FEHB enrollment proceedings after retirement, while others have their forms returned due to scratch-outs or whiteouts. Whatever the mistake, the result is a back and forth between the OPM and the worker's agency. This back and forth will draw out the process and make it tedious and tiring.
The information that workers put in their application form will decide how much of their retirement entitlement FERS/CSRS will release to such workers. To avoid making any of these avoidable mistakes, every prospective retiree should bear the following things in mind when filling in their application forms.
Avoid Typographical Errors and Unfilled Spaces
Ensure you fill out every part of your federal retirement application form. All of the boxes are on the form to serve a purpose, and leaving the spaces blank will defeat this purpose. Even if a provided space does not describe a worker's situation, it is still important to fill it. For instance, in the space that inquires about a worker's spouse, unmarried workers must state that they are single instead of leaving the space blank.
It is also necessary to avoid typographical errors. Prospective retirees must ensure that all the information they provide on the form is accurate. Wrong information will mean a truckload of problems down the line. Personal data, such as name, social security number, and date of birth must not only be correct, but they must also be the same as displayed with the worker's agency.
As stated earlier, there will not be any room for scratching out wrong information or using a correcting fluid on the applications.
Carefully Consider Survivor Annuity for Spouses
For married federal workers, carefully consider survivor benefits. Before a Federal worker decides to elect a survivor annuity or not, they must carefully consider what this would mean for their spouse when they pass away. Therefore, federal employees must think about whether they want their partners to keep enjoying their retirement benefits after they pass or not. If they do, they must also consider the portion of benefits they want their partners to keep enjoying after they die.
Except for workers who opt for a full survivor annuity, spouses will sign a form consenting to receive only a part of the survivor annuity. The document will be notarized, then sent in with the application. If you want to opt for just a percentage of survivor annuity, it is best to discuss this with your partner before they have to fill out the consent forms.
If a worker decides to opt-out of electing survivor annuity, their partner will no longer enjoy the benefits of the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) scheme after the worker's death.
Ensure Your Health Insurance Won't Stop After Retirement
Many federal workers lose the great opportunity of keeping their FEHB insurance after retirement because such federal workers do not carefully consider the requirements when filing their applications.
Workers who wish to continue enjoying their health insurance scheme after retirement must have enrolled in the plan at least five years before retirement. For this reason, workers must show evidence of participation in the system when filing for retirement.
Workers who did not enroll in the program in the last five years before retirement but carried the plan sometime before in another post or agency must provide evidence of such enrollment.
Please do not rely on the possibility of getting previous years’ health insurance documentation from your agency because they only keep the most recent health insurance files.
There are many mistakes you should avoid while applying for retirement as a federal employee. This list is not exhaustive, but prospective retirees can begin the retirement process by avoiding these common errors.
It is imperative to approach retirement with the right mindset because it is one of the most significant decisions federal workers will make. The government is already doing an excellent job by ensuring that retired federal workers receive payments for the rest of their lives. What remains is for federal workers to take the stage seriously and ensure they get the most out of retirement after years of hard work.