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(Almost) Everything You Need to Prepare for Federal Retirement

Planning for retirement as a Civilian Federal Employee may feel overwhelming. Where should you begin? How much should you be saving? When is the best time to retire? WAEPA offers a library of resources designed specifically to help Feds navigate all facets of retirement planning.

Here, you’ll find resources around benefits, preparation, saving and expenses, planning, and more to help you feel empowered, no matter where you are on your retirement journey. Happy planning!

Benefits of Getting Ahead with Pre-Retirement Planning

If you are relatively early in your career, retirement may seem like a distant far-off thing. But the reality is that it’s never too early to start thinking about retirement. The earlier you begin planning, you better off you’ll be when it’s finally time to step away from Federal service. Set yourself up for future success by beginning to take actionable steps towards planning and saving now.

Understanding Why Retirement Planning is Important to Do Now

Many young people and those starting their career in the federal government believe that retirement is a long way off. While it’s tempting to put off this decision for some extra pocket cash, there are many reasons why retirement planning is necessary.

  • Involuntary Early Retirement
  • Unforeseen Medical Expenses
  • Uncertainty of Social Security Benefits
  • Well-Informed Estate Planning

Explore the many reasons why early retirement planning, especially for Federal workers, is crucial.

Federal Retirement Guide

WAEPA’s highly detailed Federal Retirement Guide gives you the ins-and-outs of your Federal retirement. It is critical to plan for retirement, and the earlier you start making plans, the more prepared you will be.

  • How to Plan Your Retirement
  • Federal Retirement Benefits and Eligibility
  • Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
  • Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
  • How to Apply for Retirement
  • Information for New Retirees
  • Leaving Government Service Before Retirement
  • Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset

This highly detailed guide gives you the ins-and-outs of your Federal retirement, including all of the latest Federal changes.

Federal Employee Retirement Planning FAQs

How Long Will I Need to Work?

Eligibility for immediate retirement depends upon age and total years of service. Only under rare circumstances can individuals pursue early retirement and still receive full annuity benefits. You can request retirement estimates for your first available eligibility through your agency.

How Do I Find Out About Unpaid Deposits?

Service credit deposits are required in situations when you have a period of service not covered by the Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement. This includes active military service. Agency retirement specialists can estimate deposit amounts for you.

How Much Will I Need to Save?

It can be challenging to estimate expenses and assets following retirement. Recognizing this, the Office of Personnel Management recommends the Federal Ballpark Estimate as one way of clarifying how much you will need to save over time to finance the retirement you want. You can also use the FERS Retirement Calculator to calculate your basic annuity based on your length of service and “high-3” average salary.

What is the Best Date to Retire?

Federal employees often wait for the ideal time to retire, whether it takes place at the end of the pay period, the quarter, or the year. For background information on choosing the best retirement dates, see this article from Government Executive.

Saving for Federal Retirement

One of the benefits of starting your retirement planning early is more time to save money. Retirement means living on a fixed income and you want to be able to support a comfortable lifestyle. In the resources below, you’ll find strategies for saving, as well as specific knowledge around the Thrift Savings Plan for Federal employees.

Countdown to Retirement: Checklist for FERS Employees

Understanding your benefits prior to retiring is important for ensuring you meet your financial goals and objectives. Join Ray Kirk, Ph.D., Federal Benefits Specialist, to learn about how to prepare for retirement.

OPM has recently published information on frequent errors found in retirement packages and guidance for submitting complete and accurate “healthy” retirement applications. Ray will discuss common application errors and steps you can take to help smooth the retirement process.

Saving for Retirement Guide

Financial Wellness Resources for Federal Employees

Financial Planning Throughout Your Career

New Federal Hires

Be diligent with your planning by making sure to:

  • Check everything in your Electronic Official Personnel Folder (eOPF) for accuracy
  • Update beneficiary forms, including SF 1152, SF 2823, TSP 3, and CSRS, or FERS
  • Update your TSP 1 Election form to ensure agency matching on your TSP savings
  • Learn about Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and the FSAFEDS program

View our FedCheck for New Federal Employees

Mid-Career Professionals

Mid-career marks another shift in your financial planning strategy:

  • Review your eOPF to find out your retirement SCD
  • Correct any errors in your documentation
  • Determine whether you might owe any further deposits upon retirement
  • Make sure your beneficiary information is correct and up-to-date

Learn more by using our FedCheck for Mid-Career Employees.

Preparing for Expenses in Retirement

One component of retirement that is important to consider is that you will live on a fixed income. With this comes the need to ensure that expenses do not exceed your income. You may not expect certain expenses to be part of retirement. Explore resources that will empower you to anticipate and adapt to a new lifestyle in your golden years.

How To Wind Down Your Spending Habits After You Retire

Here you’ll find practical tips and tracks to help you keep track of your spending and adjust if needed as you enter retirement.

Unexpected Retirement Expenses and How You Can Prepare

Retirement can come with unforeseen expenses. Being proactive about planning and saving can help you navigate any surprise financial burdens.