Ep #72: Criminal Issues with Health Insurance and Survival Benefits

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Accidents happen, but some come with severe consequences. For example, when covering someone with your HSA that you shouldn’t cover, you can face severe penalties!

That is why in today’s episode, Tammy and Micah cover some fraudulent issues that can come up with health insurance and survivor benefits.

Listen in as they explain how to make sure you are making the right decisions and determine who is eligible to go under your health insurance.


What We Cover:

  • Unintentional HSA mistakes 
  • Who is eligible to go under your Health Insurance
  • Who can be included in Survival Benefits
  • Who qualifies as a spouse?
  • Can stepchildren and foster children be covered?
  • The importance of knowing the right rules
  • When is the best time to start planning for retirement.


Resources for this Episode:


Ideas Worth Sharing:

When you go to retire or make any big life event, you need to have a checklist of things to go through to make sure you're ready for retirement – Micah Shilanski Share on X

How do we find these people that are covering people that shouldn't be covered? Not necessarily to prosecute them but just to let them know these family members are not valid family members. – Tammy Flanagan Share on X

I mean, you'd have nobody else to rely on but your agency's HR office, so you're at the mercy of them being up to date on the rules and helping you navigate these waters. – Tammy Flanagan Share on X

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Full Episode Transcript
With Your Hosts
Micah Shilanski and Tammy Flanagan

You can spend. You can save. What is the right thing to do? Federal benefits, great savings plans too. You can save your own way, with help from Micah and Tammy. You can save your own way. Save your own way.


Micah: Welcome back to another amazing episode of the Plan Your Federal Retirement podcast. I’m your host Micah Shilanski and with me back from a little bit of a vacation from the pods is our amazing Tammy Flanagan. Whats going on Tammy?


 Tammy: Good doing good Micah. Thanks for your patience with me. It’s been a busy season, but we’re through open season. We’re through the beginning of the year. So I’m ready to roll. 


Micah: That’s fantastic. And in fact, by the time this webinar goes out, we’ll just included our first webinar of the year. We have several of them coming up. But this one was really focused on the best day to retire and Tammy whenever that comes up with a client, like I mentioned in the webinar, I’d like to blame you for that. Because you were the one that was really put that out there that might cause you kind of blew it up there but we had a lot of good times talking.


Tammy: Oh yeah, I’ve run on that little kotel. for about 30 years on the best day to retire. Now, there are some truth to having a best day to retire. But I think a lot of it did get blown out of proportion. So I’m anxious to give it a fresh look and go over it with you from both a finance tax as well as a benefits point of view and maybe through a little bit of mental emotional preparedness in there as a huge part of a huge part of it.


Micah: Well, that’s going to be exciting. I know you’ve talked about that on the webinar, but today, we wanted to talk to you about kind of an interesting article that’s come out. I know you’ve written about this before some information is coming out from OPM, but really talking about fraudulent issues that can come up with health insurance and survivor benefits. And before you tune out and saying I won’t do any of that stuff. Sometimes it happens accidentally, but it comes with some severe consequences. So Tammy, tell us a little bit more about that.


Tammy: Yeah, and I think a lot of it isn’t intentional. I think maybe there are a few bad actors out there. But I think for the most part, people are not doing this intentionally. They just don’t know. Like, for instance, let’s say you went through a divorce. And in your divorce decree, it tells you that you must provide health insurance for your ex spouse. So to you that might mean I gotta keep my ex spouse under my family plan it says so in the court order. Well, guess what? Your ex spouse is not a family member. They’re not eligible to be on yourself plus one or Self and Family coverage. Once that divorce is final or the annulment has been finalized. They’re done. So what you can do is tell them about temporary continuation of coverage, so they have time to figure out what they’re going to do for health insurance. Or if you leave them a little bit of your retirement or even a couple of dollars of Survivor Benefit. They can have spouse equity coverage, but that means they gotta have their own plan, pay their own premiums and pick up the government share. So it’s not the cheapest insurance in the world, but it could work out for them. But that would be just one example of where somebody might inadvertently leave their ex spouse on their health plan. So the question is who’s checking on this? Who’s the one responsible for making sure that you don’t put the wrong person on your plan? 


Micah: And Tammy, great offense to the federal employees out there, right. It says okay, your court order says, I’m making this up, but this happens a lot. Your court order says you have to leave a portion of your pension to your spouse. Okay, great. Well, who takes care of that? OPM takes care of that, they get a copy of the court order they process it. Okay, perfect. So that paragraph OPM will take care of it. Next paragraph it says you gotta leave them health insurance will fantastical, OPM is going to take care of that too. So I could definitely see by default, that’s where our mindset would go because the attorney is not gonna bring it up. I’ve never talked to the divorce attorney that understood that’s not how it worked on the federal side. Now, granted, I don’t do a lot of divorce cases. But Tammy, what about your experience?


Tammy: Well, thank you this Micah. And let’s say you’re a 35 year old federal employee who goes through a divorce. Got your court order in there and talks about leaving your former spouse to retirement and health insurance, send that court order to OPM, what are they going to do with it between now and 20 years from now when you retire? They’re not looking at it for any right action, right? Because they don’t take action till your retirement. So it’s really up to you and your agency and maybe the health plan to figure out who are the valid family members and nobody is checking? No, there is no system in place. There never has been since 1960. To verify or provide a way to distinguish who’s eligible who isn’t so to me, it’s more or less an honor system. I mean, there are some agencies I have to say that do a really good job of that they make sure that that that is a family member eligible for coverage. But I have to say, obviously a lot of this slips through the cracks enough that the General Accountability Office did a major report at the end of December. And if they could solve this problem if they could catch all the people that are not supposed to be family members on a federal health plan. The savings is estimated to be anywhere from a half a million to a billion dollars. So this isn’t small potatoes. There’s a lot of people who not only have ex spouses on their plans, they have children that are not qualified to be on the plan. I know people that tried to put their parents on their house, thinking why not their family member, you know, so if nobody’s checking, I guess you could do it. But don’t get caught because some of these have been prosecuted.


Micah: Tammy that’s what Iwant to talk about in a second is that prosecution side of it, but you know, this is something that I see all the time when I’m doing with people preparing taxes, is when they’re doing their own tax return. And sometimes I’ll see this from from taxpayers as well, which is scary, but they’ll come up with the concept of saying hey, the software let me do it. It has to be legal. I put it into TurboTax, TurboTax kicked it out. Clearly it has to be okay to do that. And it says no just because the software allows you to enter something does not mean it’s legal it okay to do. Same thing with your HR, just because your HR allows you to keep your ex spouse on and that selfless wonder that family plan does not mean it’s an allowable thing you can do and not If not when your guess is not when you get caught. It’s going to come with severe penalties because Tammy there’s potential jail time on board. There was probation there was fines, etc. If this goes through, right.


Tammy, Well, obviously not obviously, but little do people know it’s up to five years of jail time. I haven’t seen any that have gone that far. The ones I’ve seen documented got probation and restitution. Where they had to pay back the claims that were paying on behalf of the person who wasn’t eligible.


Tammy: But very few of these go to court, very few of them get prosecuted. Many of them obviously have not even been found out so we’re using when you get caught it’s if you get caught. It’s the truth. I mean, they have no way of checking this now that it’s becoming an issue. Congress, the Senate committee of oversight and Congress has wanted to get more information from OPM about these claims. And there has been talk about coming up with a way to analyze you know, you know, how do we find these people that are covering people that shouldn’t be covered? Not necessarily to prosecute them, but just to let them know these family members are not valid family members. And OPM does have you know, just to their credit they have on their website, a whole series of fact sheets, like what is a common law Spouse? Who qualifies as my spouse? What, what stepchildren can be covered? What’s a foster child? What’s a child over 26 incapable of 12 support, self support, so they do have resources there and people would read them. But the other problem is some of those resources are out of date because I saw one that said you can’t cover your child over 22 unless they live with you. And we both know that that has changed many years ago.


Tammy: Yeah, so now you can cover your married child who doesn’t live with you until they’re 26. But you can’t cover their wife or kids or husband or kids. But you could cover your 25 year old who is married with three children. 


Micah: So fun fact on that one. Let’s say that you have a very child who’s two is 25. And you’re in a family plan. Did you know Tammy, I know you probably knew this, but on the HSA side, the say the parents a federal employee and spouse they can fully contribute the maximum to an HSA family plan. But the child who’s married is also in a payment plan on his own return and they can also contribute to a maximum of eight in their account, even though it’s not two separate health plans. I’m not saying you should put your married kids on your health plan just because you can great but that is oh, wait a second…


Tammy:  Is that for sure? Because one of the rules for making contributions to an HSA is that you don’t have any other health plan. Well, in that case, they have two coverages, right? 


Micah: No, they don’t have two coverages. So let’s say Bob and Sue are the parents. And all right. Jim is the son right? So Bob and Sue have their own health coverage at FEHB family plant. Right. Okay. Well, they have one. 


Tammy: What are they covering? Jim? 


Micah: Yep, they’re covering Jim. So they’re in a family. 


Tammy: So he’s covered under the FEHB.


Micah: And then so they put their maximum into an HSA plan and then Jerry, he is also in a family plan. Correct? Because he’s an FEHB under his wife? No, no, under his parents because he’s 25. But it’s still… Oh, yeah. Okay. So he’s it’s still a family plan. And because he’s married, he can now contribute the maximum to his HSA account. That’s there. So you can actually do to HSA contributions, because he’s an adult, if he was a minor wouldn’t work that way. But because he’s an adult, you absolutely can do that.


Tammy: Interesting. Yeah. I’ve heard that.That is that’s good. Found something out. We always like to find legitimate loopholes, right. 


Micah: Yes. Yes. So yeah, so yeah, this is one that you know, going back to the FEHB issues about being an ex spouse on there. And this is one where you need to document, document, document. Now the documentation is not going to save your bacon but at least it could help lessen the penalties. If you relied on reputable people to give you this advice and follow their advice. You are still responsible for the outcome, but at least 30 words are generally more lenient. You weren’t trying to be malicious in this. You weren’t trying to take advantage. You’re following advice of professionals. They’re generally going to lessen the penalties. But it’s also about making sure you’re getting the right advice and can they provide it to you in writing, and instead information current, which is a huge pain in the butt because there’s no way to tell an OPM website, what’s current and what’s not.


Tammy: Yeah, and that’s why you have to rely I mean, you’d have nobody else to rely on but your agency’s HR office, so you’re at the mercy of them being up to date on the rules and helping you navigate these waters. Now, once you’re retired, I had a case with a woman who has health insurance through her deceased husband. He died many many years ago as a young man when he died, and they had a child and the daughter grew up she got children of her own. And now she passed away this year. So unfortunately, so they she lost her husband a long time ago and then her daughter this year, so now she’s the one taking care of her granddaughter or grandson. So she called up OPM because she’s retired herself and she’s a survivor annuitant and her health insurance is through the survivor benefit. So she called up to add her grandson and they said, well, that’s not your deceased husband’s grandson because he never was alive when he was born. So they told her she couldn’t cover him, which I kind of would argue with that. But the easy fix to this would be to have her switch the health insurance from her survivor benefit to her own retirement, because this is her grandson, this was her daughter and all of this falls into line with an eligible child. Well, when she called OPM, they never bothered to ask her if she was retired herself and she didn’t know that that was an important factor. In fact, she didn’t even know that she could change the health insurance from the survivor benefit to her own but you can yep, that’s an easy fix that can be done over the phone. So once we got that all straightened out, it was fixed right away. But if she would have never made contact with me who knew the rules, she would have gone the rest of her life not knowing that she could have covered her grandson. In the meantime, she would have had to put him under who knows Medicare or marketplace insurance or whatever. But this is good coverage for him and he had some health issues. So the solve the problem, but it’s like not everybody has the wherewithal to call somebody who might know the answer. And who do you call and there’s only so many Micahs and Tammy’s out there that are going to answer the phone that know the answer. 


Micah: You know, Tammy, one of the things that I’ve learned, especially not only working with federal employees, but also training financial advisors about federal employee benefits is I always tell the financial advisor is saying, Look, this is the base rule except for when there’s an exception and there’s always an exception, an exception may not apply. Right. So you could be in a case where yes, that is the rule for you. But there’s almost every single rule out there. There’s some exception, and you have to know what they are to know if it applies, just like in the case that you’re talking about right under that one set of rules. Yes, under widow survivor benefits. You cannot add a grandchild on there. But oh wait step back a quick second and realize that she has her own benefits that we can just file and or that we don’t need to keep the widows health insurance going on.


Tammy: Yeah, that’s right. It would be the same thing. Let’s say that you had a federal couple. They both retired. And they were both federal employees. So they had self plus one coverage under let’s say the husband. So then the marriage falls apart. They get divorced. So the wife, she has to know I need to switch that over to my retirement because I don’t want to pay the spouse equity coverage. I cannot be covered under my ex husband’s insurance anymore. Right. So that’s number one. Secondly, let’s say instead of a divorce, the husband had died. So now she’s the surviving spouse and she has her own retirement. If she remarries, she can’t cover her new husband through the survivor benefit on health insurance. So again, she would have to switch that over to her retirement so that she could then cover that new family member and maybe even his child if they have a child and a parent child relationship. So these rules aren’t simple. They’re not straightforward. They’re very generous if you know the rules as far as who can be covered, but there are exceptions are people who are not qualified family members. And you can get in big trouble if you continue to cover them. Because it’s very hard to find that out. They don’t have a checks and balance on this. 


Micah: So Tammy, let’s go back to that example cuz I wanna make something really clear to our listeners, let’s say Bob and Jane, right. Bob’s a federal employee, Bob and Jane are married, they get divorced. And then he’s leaving. Jane is now ex wife health insurance coverage. If he gets caught when they come back to restitution, are they asking Bob to repay restitution or Jane who got the benefits?


Tammy:  Oh, no, it’s Bob because he should have known better. He should have known better that he wasn’t allowed to come continue to cover his ex wife. What so even though she’s the one that kept the card going and kept you to the doctor, she wasn’t responsible for knowing the rules. He was. 


Micah: Yes. And that’s the point I really want to drive home right there is saying hey, we can’t just say well, it’s not my issue because Jane keeps using the car. That’s not my fault, regardless of your fault or not. And well, yes, it is your fault. You shouldn’t remove her. OPM will come after the federal employee. spouse is on this. That’s why you have to understand that these rules are.


Tammy: That brings up a good point. So if you go through a divorce, it’s not enough to just tell your ex spouse: Hey, you’re no longer covered. Here’s the rules for temporary coverage. It’s your responsibility to call Blue Cross , call Aetna and say listen, I just went through a divorce. It was final on February 15. And you need to take my ex off of my family plan because no doesn’t know the difference. You know, there’s they still think you have a spouse. So you need to inform the health plan as well as your agency. If you’re still working, that you’ve gone through a divorce. It’s very important. 


Micah: You know, the other thing that I see get missed all the time, Tammy, which doesn’t have fraudulent legal issues. With it, but has other issues is beneficiary designations. When someone has a life changing event, they don’t update all of their beneficiary designations. And that’s one of the things you got to do because while you’re still married, you can’t do it. You cannot really remove your spouse from all of your accounts in some you can’t I know some you cannot. You got to wait till you’re divorced and you have to rebuild a whole lot of work. And I see that getting this time and time again.


Tammy: And with the TSP I don’t know if anybody’s looked at their TSP account lately, but there is no form. So if you update your beneficiary there is no tsp three like you used to fill out and you had this nice it used to be a green form green for money like TSP, and then it became an electronic form that was just generically white, and now there’s no form. So if you want to update your beneficiary, you go on to your TSP account and do it electronically. And another change they made which a lot of people don’t like, is that they have you put the social security number of those beneficiaries. A lot of people don’t want to ask their beneficiaries because they don’t necessarily want them to know right now, after you just bragged about having a million dollars in your TSP account. No, by the way, you’re my beneficiary. So they, they want to kind of keep that under wraps until the time comes to disperse the money so but now you got to ask that person: What’s your social social number and a lot of people don’t want to give that out yet but that’s gonna go into that my account.


Micah: Yeah, so that’s, that’s a great, that’s a great thing to be thinking about. Now an easy solution for that, well, not easy, but a solution for that could be a trust by the way you could create a trust with its own employer identification number, you can give that and then inside of your trust, you can dictate your beneficiaries. There’s some there’s probably the best solution. Yeah, be really careful. Don’t just work with any attorney who does estate planning you got to work with one understands the taxes because when you put a 401K account at TSP and IRA any pre tax money into a trust, it’s a different set of rules. And if you do it wrong, half of that money goes to the IRS. And I’m not joking. Yes. So be very, very careful how you do it. But that could be a solution. But Tammy a positive thing. I’ll just do a TSP real fast. I am delighted that they’re now putting beneficiaries back on the statements because that’s one of the things that I will I didn’t like when they went away from that. I love that it’s back on here now. So if you’re looking at your statement, remember, I think it’s on page three. If you’re not seeing a beneficiary listed primary and contingent, then tsp does not have it and you need to go update it now. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already updated. It doesn’t matter if you say you’ve given TSP your beneficiaries. If it’s not on that form, they do not have it and you need to go back and re update that information. 


Tammy: Yeah, I mean, they did save the paper forms because I know there was about a quarter of a million of the paper tsp threes that they didn’t upload into the system. They’re still there in a file cabinet somewhere. So if you die, somebody could look it up and find it, hopefully. But like you said, My God, I want to take that chance. Yeah, I want to see it myself. I want to know that it’s there. I want that in my hand. You know, it’s I can print out that statement and show what it is. I guess the only person that’s not going to be happy that they’re printing those on the beneficiary or on the TSP statements is the employees who put either their ex girlfriend on their or their current girlfriend and they’re married to someone else. Because I used to get that call. Believe it or not people would say when they publish that I don’t want my wife to know who I have this beneficiary .it’s like really.. well, 


Micah: You have other there’s other problems there, right? Yeah, that was yes, I was in I was in a meeting I just we’ve done a seminar and a couple of them and after that we’ll call Bob and Sue. And sure enough that he the entire meeting, I was Bob and Sue this Bob and Sue that etc. Just chatting with them and I look at this beneficiary for icsb statement look it’s beneficiary form and it says for the wrong name, and sure enough, it’s her middle initial does not begin with a J either. And so anyways, I had to bring it up and he got read she got pissed and we started working through this column TSP and TSP had made a mistake and they attrition on his file, and so he wasn’t being a bad husband. Okay, good. Right. But the reason I bring this story up is, TSP can make mistakes and I’m not ragging on tsp. They do a lot of great stuff, but they’re still human nature. So you have to check these things if you would have died and someone else would have been listed as the beneficiary. That is not a place you want to be a problem. 


Tammy: Yeah, and I always tell employees this I’m sure you do too, is that you know it doesn’t matter what anybody else did or what anybody else said, Who cares more about this than you? So take it take that responsibility to double check to make sure it happened to make sure that that got changed or to make sure that you had that deposit was recorded. You know, I see so many people who are complaining I had one guy in a pay his military deposit twice, because the agency said: You know, we don’t have any record of you paying it the first time. He say he didn’t say the canceled check. He didn’t save anything to prove he paid it. But now he wants to do something about it. Like you’ve got to take some responsibility. You know, keep proof, keep records, keep names, keep documents, I mean, I can’t ever stress that enough, because the only cases I can really help with and solve and probably you’re the same way is once I can prove with evidence if you have no evidence, it’s your word against theirs.


Micah: That’s exactly what I tell my clients saying, Look, we have everything documented. And there’s a problem. It’s an inconvenience, but we’re going to get it fixed. If we don’t have the documentation. Now we have a serious problem. Because there’s not much I can do. I can’t go back and create documents right it is what it is. And so that’s the reason before you separate from retirement this will be one of the action items and at the end, but before you separate from retirement, you need to go through a checklist of all the documents you need to have in your possession, not online that you can access through the federal system, because you’re gonna get kicked out of that eventually, in your personal records. You don’t have to print them you could put them on a thumb drive and put them on your personal computer. I’m fine with that, which you’ve got to have them in your personal possession. If you don’t, man, you could have issues you could not be eligible for health insurance. You could not get all of your federal benefits. Maybe you had an extra eight years of service in a different agency that they can’t find you’ve repurchased your military time, right? All of these things can come back and haunt you. 


Tammy: Right then anything you have, like I had one employee tell me Oh, I have my agency estimate and it has all my service listed. I’m like, Did you see what it’s called? Agency estimate that really has no bearing in court, you know, so you want to have something that’s an official document. That signed that signed by an official. And if you have that, like in SF 50. That’s an official document. You can use that as proof your DD 214. For military that’s an official document. So you want to keep things that will hold up in court even though this will never go to court, usually, but you want to have something you know, I think I worked at the FBI too long is only eight years but it was long enough to know how important evidence, evidence, evidence evidence while they worked in personnel.


Micah: I had a client retired came down I’m sure you have stories of this nature as well. But sure enough, she had, you know, 34 years of federal service. She was retiring at her MRA her minimum retirement age which she needed 30 years so she was over that. And it was at two different agencies. And she went to retire and she was in retirement. Everything was good. They mentioned started paying interim checks. This was years ago. She ended up being on a cruise halfway around the world when her retirement was finalized and they sent a letter from her sister was checking her mail and they saw a package coming for OPM. There’s just the results of their employees as well. I should open this up. It opens it up and it’s a letter that says we’ve reviewed your service and you only have 29 years of February, May…You’ll go back to work, or you’re going to take a permanent reduction of 25% in your retirement. So she calls me from Greece freaked out about this. And I said, I said I totally understand no worries, we’re gonna get effects and she said, What do you mean there’s nothing to worry about? This is an inconvenience, but she kept every single SF50 she ever had were the auditor in a file. I said great. This is the five years you worked at a different agency and I just promised that they don’t see those five years. I got them right here in my hot little hands. We’ll get them to OPM. It took seven eight months to figure out what OPM but then everything was restored they back paper to retirement. She’s stepping over benefits. There’s no reduction whatsoever 


Tmmy:  I’m sure they paid her 10% interest on the money they withheld


Micah: Well, apparently you’re a better negotiator than I am because there’s no interest.


Tammy: If you owe the government money, you will pay interest if they owe you money, no interest


Micah: It was a happy ending because she had two things going for her number one, she had all her documentation. And number two, she had the cash flow in hand to weather the time until OPM paid her, right if you’re planning on getting a retirement check within 60 days, boom, you got a cash flow problem. That’s probably not going to happen. I hope it does for you, but it’s probably not


Tammy: Great. Yeah, you can’t count on anything happening in a timely manner. I mean, you hope it does. Like you always say, you hope for the best but prepare for the worst because there are a lot of in fact the story you just told. I could have told you the same one twice. I’ve had that happen twice with somebody who was told OPM told them they didn’t have enough service and they had plenty of service. That’s happened doesn’t happen every day. It’s not like everybody that retires has a problem. But there are enough of those problems. That should tell us we need to save that documentation.


Micah: Yeah, and that’s where I think the moral here is Tammy and I aren’t trying to scare you, our listeners into saying oh my gosh, don’t retire, you’re gonna get screwed. That’s not the moral of the story. The moral of the story is you need to understand your benefits. And you need to have the documentation to make sure you get your benefits. 


Tammy: Yes. And I want to emphasize what you said about understanding because a lot of people will get that retirement estimate. And they say, this is what I’m gonna get it says right here is like what do you know where that came from? Like they don’t even know like, what went into the data that that asset was based on. So when I have a client that’s the first thing I do I show them how their high three arrived at, I show them how their service history was accounted for and whether or not they owe money for it. So that I want you to have an understanding of that retirement estimates and you know, what it should be and why it should be that way. I think we don’t do enough of that. You know, it’s just like when you go to the store and you give the cashier $1.03 pennies because the bill was you know, whatever 93 cents and they don’t know to give you a dime because they’re based on that. Why are you giving me more? I am old school still has some merit I’m showing my age I’m sorry, but it still holds true.


Micah: Tammy another one is sorry, real quick, another kind of how we see these these come up is I had a client come in. It was it was a new client and they use working with another financial advisor but he wanted a second opinion. And he was super excited about his retirement because his retirement estimate had 41 years of federal service that was there and he was retired military and so Tammy already picking up on yours. And so I look at his estimate, because he always told me about his timeline. I’m like, oh my god like 15 to 20 years. And I looked at his estimate, and his retirement estimate is including all the years of his military time that he hasn’t bought back. He doesn’t plan to federal service and he doesn’t get paid that he’s getting what’s his tax rate, you spending his military retirement and that was based on this four year retirement check that he’s not going to get is interest generated this another financial planner said this, they’ve done out the retirement ones that oh my gosh, you’re set. And I’m like, Dude, your retirements gonna be half what do you think it is the Feds and I had to be the bearer of bad news kind of walking through these numbers. But that’s the really importance of understanding where did the numbers come from? Not just that bottom line to get excited about.


Tammy:.. and question things you don’t understand your question things that look too good to be true. Because sometimes they are and just because it says so doesn’t make it so I think you’re the one that needs to tell me that and that’s such a true statement. But yeah, there’s we can just go on all day. I mean, there are so many stories stories. 


Micah: Yeah, yeah. Well Tammy let’s talk about some action items for our listeners. Because this podcast is not only educational fun for you and I know you’re totally our listeners as well, entertainment, but action items that we can take implement this week to help get ready for retirement. So I’ll go ahead and kick it off if you like. And I’ll say number one, check all of your beneficiaries and we said this before your man it’s a new year, check all of them especially with the changes in TSP. 


Tammy: It’s very good and along that line, keep your own personal personnel folder. It used to be easy back in the cardboard folder days because you would get an employee copy of your SF 50 and get an employee copy of your health benefit form. You don’t get those anymore, you get an email and you don’t know if it’s junk mail or what so sometimes you delete it, but you want to either print them out or in the younger generation since I’m being old today. You would put it on your flash drive or computer somewhere but keep it yourself don’t rely on the agency to maintain those things. happened to these records. And sometimes like the example you gave, they don’t get transferred OPM.


Micah: Yeah, and you were responsible for making sure OPM has all of your records and that’s going to lead right into my third action item, which is when you go to retire or make any big life event you need to have a checklist of things to go through to make sure you’re ready for retirement. There’s a whole checklist of things that we do and our team and you do the same thing about getting a client ready for retirement just to open up their official personnel file to make sure we have a better chance of being successful the first program.


Tammy: Yeah, and I get people who will say hey, I’m still five years from retirement. When’s the best time to get in touch with you? Now? They think they’re going to wait three days before it’s like no, we’ll do a checkup 60 days before but you know, now is a great time even 10 years before I mean, I love when I get a mid career client because then you can really give them the the what if scenarios. You know what if I leave the government what if I stay How long do I have to stay? What if I became disabled? What if I die? Those are times when you need to know that when things are going well not when things fall apart.


Micah: And Tammy, when we have time we can fix almost any problem. Yes, but when I don’t have time it makes it really challenging and not stressful.


Tammy: Very stressful. Well on that happy note.


Micah: So plan, plan plan. Like I said we had a great webinar talking about Best day to retire. We have a couple more webinars coming up. So if you haven’t signed up on our website, make sure you jump on our website, plan your federal retirement.com join Tammy and I our next few webinars and for next time. Happy planning


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