Retiring from federal service is not as simple as collecting a gold watch and giving a speech at your going away party. If you are a federal employee nearing retirement, you should start planning now for the FERS retirement process.
Advance Capital Management has helped many federal employees make informed retirement decisions, from selecting TSP investments to filling out beneficiary information. So, we know navigating the FERS retirement process can be complex and time-consuming.
However, following some simple steps ensures that your retirement benefits are processed smoothly and on time.
Get your FERS retirement forms
First, the FERS retirement process requires you to complete some paperwork. You can get all the necessary forms from your employing agency or the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website.
Here are the specific FERS retirement forms that you may need to fill out:
Application for Immediate Retirement (SF 3107): This is used by federal employees who are retiring immediately. It requests information about your employment history, benefit choices, and beneficiary information.
FERS Application for Deferred or Postponed Retirement (RI 92-19): Federal employees who are retiring but want to delay the start of their benefits will need this form.
Certified Summary of Federal Service (SF 3107-1): This form is completed by your employing agency and summarizes your federal service. It is required for all federal employees applying for retirement, regardless of the type of retirement (immediate, deferred or postponed).
Continuation of Life Insurance Coverage (SF 2818): Annuitants who wish to maintain their Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) benefits will need this form.
Spouse’s Consent to Survivor Election (SF 3107-2): If you are married and choose an Annuitant Election other than the “reduced annuity with a maximum survivor annuity for my spouse” option, you will need to complete this form with your spouse and a notary public.
Withholding Certificate for Periodic Pension or Annuity Payments (W-4P): If your household will receive additional earned income or pension income outside of the FERS pension, you will need this form.
Fill out your FERS retirement forms accurately
Read the instructions carefully once you have the forms corresponding to your situation. You want to provide all the required information and answer all the questions. Mistakes or missing information could lead to delays in processing your benefits.
Here is some critical information that you may need to provide:
Your name, Social Security number and date of birth
Your employment history, including dates of employment, agencies and job titles
Your beneficiary information, such as the name, Social Security number and relationship of your beneficiary
Marriage certificate, if naming your spouse as the beneficiary
The date you want your benefits to start (if you are applying for deferred or postponed retirement)
Complete the FERS retirement process
After filling out your FERS retirement forms, you can submit them to your employing agency. Congratulations – you’re done!
Just keep in mind that you must submit your application for retirement at least 60 days before the date you want your benefits to start.
Start early. It can take time to gather all of the required information and to complete the forms. Don't wait until the last minute to start the process. Again, you must submit your application for retirement at least 60 days before the date you want your benefits to start.
Ask for help. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask your employing agency, OPM or an Advance Capital Management adviser for help.
Be patient. Per the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), it can take 45-70 days to get your first check (usually at a reduced value) and up to six months before receiving your full retirement benefits.
As a financial adviser, Kurt takes a comprehensive approach to help clients work toward their financial goals by providing wealth management tools including retirement planning, investment portfolio advice and tax strategies. He specializes in federal government benefits and is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor.