Your Federal Pension Check

Be prepared! Your Federal Pension check may be delayed.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is having more and more responsibilities outsourced. Retirement checks could take longer than expected to be distributed.

Even if you have turned in all of your paperwork on time - in does not guarantee that you will immediately receive your Federal retirement check.

How Long Before I Get My First Retirement Check?

Your Federal Pension may be effective in 30 days - but that does not mean it is payable.

In my experience, most Federal Employees will not receive their first retirement check until 3 months after they retire.

But you need to know that the first checks will only be about 80% of your monthly pension.

You will not receive 100% of your monthly pension until OPM has reviewed your file and officially calculated your benefits. It may take approximately 3 more months for that to happen.

In most cases, when you finally do receive your first 100% check, you will also get a check with the difference between your 80% checks and 100% of your monthly pension.

So you will eventually get all of your pension money - it just takes time. 

Example of Delay

For example - if you retire on January 1st, your 80% check will probably start arriving around April 1st. But your 100% check will probably not arrive until July 1st!

Remember, these are just estimates. It all depends on how backlogged OPM is.

I have seen it take 8 months for a Federal Employee to receive their *first* retirement check! Than means if they retired on January 1st - their first check didn't arrive until September 1st!

What if your first check takes that long to arrive? Do you have enough money in savings?

Be Prepared Financially

There is no way to know exactly how long it will take to receive your first Federal Retirement check. You need to make sure you have enough money in savings to bridge the gap.

During your career, I encourage you to have at least three to six months living expenses in cash reserves.

But when you are getting ready to retire - you want to have 2 years of living expenses in a savings account. Not in stocks, or bonds - in a plain old savings account or money market account.

This way, if you do not receive your Federal retirement check for several months, you will still have enough money to pay the bills.

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As a federal employee, you have one of the best benefits systems out there. But as you know - there are lots of exceptions, caveats and details to keep track of.

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