womeningovernmentgovernmentbenefitsunderstandinggovernmentbenefits

By Renee Chamberlain

If you are a federal employee within 5-10 years of retirement, there are some things you can do now to help ensure that you don’t get overwhelmed when ending your government service. Here are some of the most common actions many employees forget to take before retiring.

  1. Pay attention to form SF 50. You’ll need to review all the necessary forms related to your employment and check them for accuracy, especially Form SF 50. Form SF 50, as you may know, is the “Notice of Personnel Action.” It’s wise to go over every box on this form. Still, you’ll want to pay extra attention to block 30 (“retirement plan”) and block 31 (“service computation date.”) Block 30 of the SF 50 contains codes used by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which specify which retirement system covers you. For example, if your block 30 code is 1 or 6, it indicates you are part of the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).

Other codes on Form SF50 include:

KR, LR, MR, NR- These letters in box 30 indicate an employee is in the Federal Employees Retirement System-Revised Annuity Employees or FERS-RAE.

KF, LF, MF, NF: These codes are for FERS-FRAE, or Federal Employees Retirement System-Revised Annuity Employees.

K, L, M, or N, means you are retiring under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Suppose you review this block and discover that your form has the wrong retirement code. In that case, you’ll need to contact your personnel office immediately to determine your best course of action.

Block 31 contains information about your service computation date (SCD) when your Federal service first began. The date there may include all your creditable civilian and military service as if served without a break. The SCD determines the annual leave accrual rates for full-time government employees.

  1. Determine your SCD for retirement. There is another SCD, the SCD for retirement, that may or may not be the same date as the SCD for leave purposes. This SCD determines the number of service years a federal employee must have to retire at a specific age. It also establishes how many years were used in computing the CSRS or FERS annuity. You can get your SCD for retirement through your personnel office or the OPM’s federal retirement office. The SCD for retirement is essential if you want to confirm deposits.
  2. Evaluate your FEGLI coverage. In addition to carefully reviewing form SF 50, you should evaluate your Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) insurance coverage. If you are an employee enrolled in FEHB and want to keep that insurance throughout retirement, you must keep that coverage in force through at least your last five years of government service, ending on the day of retirement.
  3. Think about long-term care insurance. If you’re like many Americans, you are likely to live much longer in retirement than your parents or grandparents did. This means there’s a greater chance that you will need long-term care (LTC).

The cost of annual LTC can be over $100,000 per year. Most people don’t adequately prepare for this expense. Federal employees should be saving for these expenses or purchasing LTC insurance or an annuity with provisions for long-term care. The government’s program is known as the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program o FLTCIP. Employees may apply at any time during their service.

Before enrolling in FLTIP, it’s a good idea to meet with a financial professional who understands the nuances of federal benefits and can help you determine if FLTCIP is the best option in your situation.

It’s critical to START NOW.

In this short article, I’ve mentioned only a few of the dozens of decisions you’ll need to make as you wind down your government service. Other actions you may need to take include:

  • Understanding your TSP plan contributions and withdrawal options
  • Creating and updating your estate plan
  • Reviewing your earnings for Social Security benefits
  • Checking the accuracy of beneficiary forms

In future articles, I will tackle each of these subjects in-depth to help you avoid making mistakes when preparing to retire from government service.   Reach out to me with questions about your federal employee benefits, or general financial questions.  I especially enjoy working with women in federal services looking to maximize their incredible government benefits.

https://www.rjcfinancial.com/

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Need help with your FEGLI benefits?  Need to know about how to deal with FEHB changes in 2022?  Contact Renee to be your “second set of eyes” to ensure your forms are correct, your beneficiaries are the way YOU want them to be, and that you are getting the most from ALL of your federal benefits.  https://rjcfinancial.retirevo.com/.