Preparing for your federal retirement starts the day you are hired! By this I mean you want to start taking advantage of one of the greatest benefits a FERS employee has as early as possible; the Thrift Savings Plan. In order to maximize the matching contributions, you want to contribute at least 5%. This may be difficult for newbies in the workforce, but free money is too hard to come by. For those who are high-income earners and can’t take advantage of a private Roth, you can contribute to the Roth TSP.
For those employees who have served in the military, take advantage of buying back your military time (service credits) to count towards your CSRS/FERS pension. This can enhance your retirement annuity by thousands of dollars a year.
If you intend on carrying your Federal Employee Health Benefits Program into retirement, make sure that you have been enrolled for at least 5 years. When it comes to ensuring your spouse or significant other can continue on the FEHB if you pass away, make sure to select either the 25% or 50% Survivor Benefit option. This will not only ensure part of your FERS annuity payment, but also continuation of their FEHB coverage.
Throughout your working career with the federal government, you want to make sure to be up to date on your beneficiaries for TSP and FEGLI. Life events such as children born, marriage or divorce or death can happen. Part of retirement planning is making sure your loved ones are provided for both during the working years and after.
Start considering the issue of Long Term Care coverage when you are young. You may want to consider utilizing either traditional long-term care policies, available through the government (John Hancock) or private policies (sometimes less expensive). Another option to consider is permanent life insurance with long-term care coverage or living benefits which can potentially allow for accelerated payments in the event of in-home health care or nursing home care expenses.
I would also suggest 5-10 years out, attend a retirement seminar – sometimes more than one. This may help you plan and provide some tips on the benefits and process.
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