Federal Retirement Package Traps ; image: frustrated man making a plan

6 traps you’ll want to dodge before submitting your retirement packet to OPM. Plus – an update on the OPM backlog as March 31.

One of the top complaints we hear from recent federal retirees is related to the length of time it takes for OPM retirement services to finalize their retirement application packet. Part of the problem is due to workflow, backlogs, and the outdated paper-based system. However, many times, the long processing duration can be due to omissions and errors in the submitted packet.

These errors can be nearly double the time it will take for your application to get processed. A recent report from OPM’s inspector general found retirement packages without errors (called “healthy” packets) were processed, on average, in 53 days. “Unhealthy” applications, on the other hand, took an average 108 days to be finalized.

Learn more about retiring from the US federal government by attending our no obligation webinars!

Here are 6 common traps you’ll want to avoid when filing out your packet for retirement from the federal government:

  1. Survivor Benefits - If you’re married, ensure you made an election for your survivor benefits. This might sound basic, but you would be surprised how many times this gets missed. Additionally, if you wish you elect less than full survivor benefits for your FERS or CSRS annuity, spousal consent is required. Also – the court order question has to be answered even if you don’t have any such court order.
  2. Civilian and Military Service: Be sure to include documentation of ALL periods of creditable civilian and military service (form DD-214).
  3. FEHB Coverage: Don’t forget to include documentation of your FEHB status and your eligibility to continue coverage in retirement. Five years of continuous coverage preceding retirement is needed to keep federal employee health insurance after retiring.
  4. FEGLI Benefits: Ensure you keep reduced FEGLI basic and that you understand the consequences of keeping FEGLI option B in retirement. If keeping FEGLI, include proof of enrollment and important dates related to the life insurance plan for feds.
  5. VERA/VSIP: If taking a voluntary early retirement of if retiring due to discontinued service, be sure to include the additional documentation to support your eligibility to do so.
  6. Sign the application! A perfect application will be stalled significantly if the fed forgot to sign the dang thing properly. (Make sure to write the date and year correctly.)

OPM Backlog Update

At the end of February, the total inventory of pending retirement packets at OPM was 19,591. It dropped 14% in the month of March, dwindling down to 16,823. This is lowest the backlog has been at the end of March since at least 2020. While 10,711 were completed in this year’s timeframe, there was an additional 7943 new applications received. For those that were completed during March, the average processing time was 55 days.

Benefits Ben, STWS

**Federal Employee News written by Benjamin Derge, Financial Planner, ChFEBC℠ The information has been obtained from sources considered reliable but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Benjamin Derge and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize, or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors.

Federal Retirement Package Traps ; image: frustrated man making a plan
Federal Retirement Package Traps and OPM Backlog Update