Ep #78: Transitioning to Retirement

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You are getting closer to retirement, but specific tasks must be completed to enjoy it thoroughly. You’ll need to take care of all paperwork, or at least have copies of everything, a few months before retirement and a few months after the process starts, and make sure that all questions concerning service history have been answered. You should contact the human resources department, get an update on any electronic personnel records, and make sure that any beneficiary designations and health and life insurance election forms are completed. Also, before you turn it on, double-check everything.

Micah and Tammy guide you through your retirement transition in this episode. So, make sure you listen to the entire episode and implement the action items they provide because the transitional phase may be frightening for many individuals. Don’t allow that to happen to you.


What We Cover:

  • Pre-Retirement what do you need to do:
    • 12 months out
      • Pay of TSP loan
      • Payback military deposit 
      • Tie up loose ends on your benefits 
      • Service history questions answered. 
    • 6 months out
    • 90 days out 
    • 30 days out
    • 0 days
  • Post-Retirement
    • +14 days
      • Request a copy of everything that your agency sent to OPM
    • +20 days
      • Leave should be paid out
    • +90 days
      • Interim payments should start
    • +180 days
      • Retirement should be finalized
      • Need to check the booklet and confirm your numbers


Action Items:

  1. Get an entire copy of your eOPF
  2. Get your cash flow reserves set up for when you are not getting paid.


Resources for this Episode:


Ideas Worth Sharing:

So really think in terms of making sure your records are up to date, everything's creditable. If you're not sure, ask questions of your HR office and get that final estimate for the date that you're thinking of retiring. – Tammy Flanagan Click To Tweet

I want my clients to sail into retirement with ease, and that means they have money coming in, whether it's money from savings, money from investments, or something of that nature. Make sure you're setting that up in advance. – Micah Shilanski Click To Tweet

I always recommend trying not to go on a big trip in those first few months after retirement because if OPM is sending something back to you, even if it's not, even if it's before your claim is adjudicated. You might have 30 days to respond. And… Click To Tweet

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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 co-host Micah Shilanski, and with me, as usual, the amazing Tammy Flanagan. Hey Tammy, how’s it going? 


Tammy: I’m doing good. Micah, how about yourself? 


Micah: Another beautiful day; how can I possibly complain? We get to talk about federal benefits. We get to talk about all the processes to go through. As a new client told me the other day, it says Micah, I’m glad you get excited about this because most people don’t know.


Tammy:  I was talking to someone today to say, what do you do a podcast on it? Right? So talking about Social Security and tax planning and so forth. She goes, Oh, that sounds really boring. It really isn’t. That’s not a fishing action. I guess if you’d have worked for the government might be a little bit tedious. 


Micah: Yeah. Fair enough. Well, Tammy, we have some fun things to get to a little bit today. We just wrapped up a great webinar, talking about mistakes that people make as they prepare for retirement, and we have another one coming up about how to use your TSP in retirement, which is really important because it may work differently than you think. In fact, we got a question follow-up question after a webinar that says, Hey, Micah and Tammy said X, but I called TSP, and they said something different. And really, it’s a definition or interpretation of how things work. And so these are things that we really got to clarify, and you have to clarify as a federal employee, and knowing how your benefits work. So if you want to use your TSP in retirement, this may be a webinar you want to stay tuned for. So make sure you jump on our website and check that out.


Tammy: I think too; sometimes you hear one piece of something from the TSP, they may not elaborate on it. The real story is yes, but you know, it’s not just or no, but you can’t do that. But you can do this instead. And I think that’s where we need to follow up with additional questions if we’re talking to the thrift line to make sure we’re really getting the answer to the question we’re thinking of in our head. 


Micah: Yeah,amen. Well, Tammy, let’s go ahead and transition a little bit because this podcast is really wanting to talk about transitioning into retirement. Now OPM has recently come out with a nice little three page guide that helps talk about retirement and what that looks like. We’re gonna expand upon that a little bit more now, as you and I looked at this guide that OPM came out with, it’s great news. It’s been things we’ve been told federal employees for years, but there’s a little bit more too that we might want to talk about as well. Right?


Tammy: Yeah, they did come up with a pretty I’m really impressed with it as you can print it out nice and colorful. It’s very well laid out. And on their website, they have it which they’ll be keeping it up to date. Let’s hope they promised to do that. And that’s really the first thing I was thinking about  this morning. The last time OPM put something out to help employees understand the process was 1998. There was chapter 40 of the civil service and FERS handbook called Preparing planning and preparing for retirement is 109 page chapter. It was really written for the human resource professional to help them counsel their employees. So I’ve never seen anything written this way that’s kind of transparent. As a matter of fact, helping employees know that there’s going to be some delays there’s going to be some pitfalls along the way. They weren’t trying to whitewash everything and make it sound like it’s gonna be perfect and you’re gonna get your first check in a month they they really gave a reality check which I applaud them for that that’s the first time I’ve seen that kind of honesty from OPM when it comes to these issues. But yeah, I think there’s a lot that employees can do to prepare for that transition. And the thing that OPM was pointing out was that there’s a lot of responsibility for this that’s shared and shared, starting with the employee themselves, you know, filling out the forms understanding what they’re doing, making sure they finished the work before they process retirement. I have an employee who had some issues with her leave and she had an unpaid deposit and she’s trying to retire in the midst of all this. I said, stay on the payroll as long as you can to get that fixed. Yes, you know, finish that first because trying to fix the problem with your agency, when you’re separated is really difficult. You become like a no name at that point you they don’t have you in their system anymore. 


Micah: Like you say when you’re in you’re a guest and when you’re out you’re a pest, right? And not, not only you’re out you’re out without pay, and so now it’s even more complex and okay, maybe you should get back paid from OPM based on your retirement or other things. But that’s a should. And we really need to look at see what are the facts that support that. So Tammy, let’s kind of lean into that just a little bit more. And let’s talk about this in two main sections is, let’s talk about this from a pre retirement section and let’s classify that as kind of 12 months out, and then let’s kind of walk through what that looks like as someone’s getting ready to retire. Then let’s talk about post retirement kind of the next 12 months or so. What does that look like? Does that sound good?


Tammy: That’s perfect. All right. We’re really at that cheery retirement stage, not this planning 20 years out we’re ready to go. We’ve woken up and said it’s time to go.


Micah: Yes, we’ve got a lot of other ducks in a row right? To make sure that you can retire which is fantastic. But now we’re at that 12 month marker. And one of the things that I’m going to say at 12 months out is you need to be living in retirement mode. So what do I mean by that? I’m going to take this from a cash flow standpoint, that says hey, great, let’s say you’re making $10,000 a month take home and you’re saying Micah I’m not a problem when I retire. I’m only going to spend $8,000 A month great news. I want you to be spending $8,000 a month today, not 10 but I want you to do as much as you can to simulate retirement and start moving in that direction. So I’m gonna say that’s a big thing that we need to do from a financial planning side about 12 months out, Tammy anything in particular 12 months out on the benefit side we should be thinking about? 


Tammy: Yeah, so this will be interesting today because what I came to mind was nothing to do with what you just said because I’m thinking along the lines of benefits, I’m thinking, make sure that if you are paying a military deposit, get that paid back. If you’ve taken out a TSP loan, are you going to have that paid off before you retire? Even though you can now pay back loans in retirement who wants to have an outstanding loan while they’re trying to live on their new retirement income? So a year out you’ve got time to tie up loose and try to get everything squared away. Make sure all of your questions about your service history have been answered and you understand how your service is going to be used to calculate your benefit. I was telling you earlier today that I had a client who was missing he didn’t even know it. He had worked for the US Senate for six years and didn’t realize that that was potentially creditable service. Let the ball drop when he was first hired. Fast forward, you know, here we are in 2023. He’s ready to walk out the door and we’re trying to find this missing service. So you know, wouldn’t retire until we get that captured get that documented in all of that. So really think in terms of making sure your records are up to date, everything’s creditable. If you’re not sure ask questions of your HR office and get that final estimate for the date that you’re thinking of retiring.


Micah: Yeah, I think that’s really, really important. I love that aspect of loose ends. Now. If there’s a loose end you cannot tie up for any reason, then you need a timeline on how to get that tied up in the next several months. And as we were just talking about you need to get these tied up before you separate from service. All right. So then Tammy kind of the next marker in my mind is kind of six months out things that we need to be looking at in in getting ready. But between six and 12 anything else that you’re thinking about that we should be thinking about? They should be thinking about as we get ready to retire?


Tammy: Well that’s gonna vary depending on your age, depending on your marital status. You know, of course, if you’re married and your your spouse is a federal employee, there might be some coordination with health insurance you want to take care of maybe your working spouse should carry the coverage instead of you,  there’s a lot of things there. If you’re older you might be thinking about do I apply for Social Security now that I’m leaving federal service, or am I gonna delay that to see if I’m gonna work in retirement maybe become self employed? So there are a lot of retirement planning issues that interrelate whether it’s TSP distributions or applying for Social Security or switching out your health benefit plan, or even applying for Medicare if you’re over 65 and you’re getting ready to retire. So those are some additional things that you got to kind of set into motion if you want them to happen in coordinate with your retirement date. 


Micah: Yeah, that’s real. I’m gonna write notes down I think it’s a great idea. Really important things that we’re thinking about in there. And then at the six month mark, or one of the things that I’m encouraging my clients to do too, is and you can use six months or nine days but I like it six months is you should be communicating with the HR office. If you haven’t already about your retirement date. Some agencies are now accepting retirement applications, six months out and not just 90 days out. Right. So this could be a time you’re filling out your retirement application. And then kind of the queue that I put together Tammy when you fill out the retirement application is to pull and get an upload or an update of any EEO PF electronic  official personnel records you might be missing. So that means all of your SF 50s. Yes, every single one. I know there may be some that you need to have but it’s easier for me to say everything and make sure you have it. And then make sure you have it in your personnel your personal records not just on the work computer so I generally like that about the six months out that retirement application. Let’s get everything downloaded from your EOPF that you’re going to possibly need.


Tammy: That includes beneficiary designations, health and life insurance election forms. You want to have records of when did these benefits start? Who did I designate is my beneficiary because for FERS for FEGLI you’re going to find that beneficiary form in your EOPF if it’s going to get sent to OPM, but if you don’t have your original copy somewhere you want to download the copy off in your EOPF and possibly even update it because it may be obsolete your it might have been a marriage or divorce or death in between when you fill that out and today, so check those beneficiary forms. Make sure your address is up to date with the TSP with your agency, if you’ve moved, make sure nobody’s sending things to the wrong address because once they log gets transitioned to OPM, or to TSP, it’s a lot harder to keep things up to date. And you’ll be hearing from those organizations after you’ve retired. So you want to make sure that comes to the right address sounds like a simple thing, but it happens where people forget to you know, they think it’s all taken care of and it isn’t .


Micah: No I think it’s a really important thing. And what I would add to that whenever team we were working with the client and we find one beneficiary that’s incorrect, that’s a red flag in my mind that we need to check all beneficiaries. So if we go pull FEGLI like Oh, Micah, I know I put my spouse on there. I know I got it updated, and then I pull it up and it’s your ex spouse is still listed as the beneficiary right, which has happened more than once. That’s an indication that I need to recheck all beneficiaries. It’s that trust but verify concept. Sure, I believe you, but you’re paying us to make sure we’re dotting the eyes and crossing the t’s. I want to see the documents I want to make sure they get up to date. And if you don’t know, just update all the documents, right if you can’t find it or anything else like that. Yeah.


Tammy: You’re correct. And now the forms like you might have filled them out 20 or 30 years ago. Now you have fillable forms so they’re much neater, there’s less chance of somebody not being able to read something on their own. It’s in it was important as a beneficiary form. You want to have it just right, because it’s a form that can be litigated, unfortunately.


Micah: Yeah, as clear as possible. Okay, so that’s kind of that six months out marker, 90 days out. I’m going to kind of say in that same thing as this could be filling out your retirement application and sending it in. Tammy, I don’t know if you’ve run across this, but I’ve run across it more than once we used to years and years ago. Fill up clients retirement applications. With them or for them, and then we’d submitted to HRs and a lot of HRs have come back to personnel offices and get a little fussy with us about saying hey, you’re supposed to get that form from us. Where did you get it from? And they get a little defensive and so then we requested them for the form and then they send us the blank form the same blank when we had and then we submit it, and then they’re fine with it. So one of things I’m always telling my clients now is requests that form from HR, and we’re getting a little bit less friction. I don’t know if that’s just an Alaska thing or if you find that as well. 


Tammy: Yeah, I don’t really because I always get to my clients before they’ve actually turned everything into their personnel shot. And hopefully it all works out fine. What I’m finding now with some of the new software like the GRB platform, they have a place there that you can fill out your application on the platform. It’s the same application like you said, but I think it’s pulling some of the information out of their record so it might fill in their pay grade and their pay plan and all of that, I guess, I don’t know. I don’t even know. The other thing I’ve found in I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not with the tax withholding. There is an IRS tax withholding form and OPM is kind of holding off on having employees use that form because they don’t have their system set up to scan or read that form properly. So they want you to send them the old W four P not the new one.


Micah: Yes, that’s a really good point now and again, if we can we’ll this will fast for the clock to post retirement as well. But updating tax elections online is a really good thing. But that’s one of things we’ll talk about post retirement I often find tax withholdings incorrect when I’m reviewing people’s retirement. And so we’ll talk about that in a second too. And then kind of 30 days out Tammy, one of the things that I encourage my clients to do as well is I want to request from HR, want them to check in a month out, let’s make sure everything’s good to go. You’re going to turn your application in six months in three months in advance and something that doesn’t mean HR is going to do anything with it. Right? They have other stuff to do. So they may not even get to processing your application till within 30 days of retirement. And so when that comes up, I love to do a check in if you haven’t heard from your HR, let’s make sure they have everything, see if they have any questions and then ask them for a copy of everything that they’re going to submit to OPM. You don’t get that yet that you get that post retirement. But I think that’s a great request to make at this stage.


Tammy: I agree with you and because I wanted to be the one that signed I want the HR specialist to have signed it and filled it out. So if you can get that copy, that’s that’s a little bit more verification that everything happened on time at the agency. So now when it gets to OPM, you can go back and say, hey, it was sent this date my personnel assigned it on this date. You’re going to have a form called a certified summary of federal service. And it’s a form that when you’re filling out the application, you’re not supposed to fill it out because that’s the agency’s job to do that. And they do it by reviewing your whole personnel file and pulling out the documents that support your chronological federal career. They start with the beginning of it all the way through to your most recent appointment. When you want to have a chance, like you said, you might have turned that application in 90 days ahead of time. They may not get to until you’re ready to walk out the door. But I would insist and I know some agencies don’t want to do this but I will insist that I would get that back before I retire. So I can sign off on it saying yes, I agree. This is a list of my service. It’s all there. If everything’s spelled correctly, the dates look right. You’re good to go because if you don’t get to see it and it goes to OPM who knows what it says, you know who may have been missing your like the fine I was telling you about was missing six years of service, I would want to know that they have captured that and it’s going to be included with what gets sent to OPM.


Micah: You know, and you’re supposed to sign that as well. So I’ve seen people pass not clients, but I’ve seen other people sign it blank and they hand me a blank form. They’re signed. I’m like, Well, why would not have done that. I want to see to your point we we’ve got tons of horror stories. We get spent all day sharing horror stories on things that we’ve seen miss. That’s why it’s so important and make sure it’s documented.


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Micah: Another reason I like to see this and Tim I know you’ve run into the same thing is sometimes we’ll get we’ll see missing information when I get that final pack that’s supposed to go to OPM. Let’s take your health insurance example we got dual Feds tandem federal employees right ones retiring so they move the health insurance to the still working spouse so we get the tax benefits. Fantastic planning. I love it. But I’ve seen more than once the health insurance certificate get missed being sent off to OPM. And so if I get that packet, that’s everything that’s sent to OPM then we thumb through it and we look we’re like, Hey, does it have that certified summary? You bought your military time back? Is it said in there? Do we have a copy of this information? Is your health certificate in there? What does it say in the survivor benefits is the FEGLI beneficiary in there, right? All of these things we kind of thumb through and if you’re missing it, and again if this is after retirement that we find this in after you’re separated so great news, we’ll get those documents ready for when OPM contact us right once you’re in the system. Now we can be proactive and we can make it all sooner. Ideally, we find this beforehand and we’re like hey mister HR person, you know, can we add in this house? Terrific. Can we add in this FEGLI, missing beneficiary etc. To make sure it gets tended to?


Tammy: Yeah, and that’s that’s an important point is to double check everything before you turn it in. Because when you read each one of those sections on the retirement application, you might see that says, Oh, you’re married. Well, we need a copy of your marriage certificate. Oh, you’ve gone through a divorce. And your former spouse gets half of the marital share? Well, you need to submit a copy of that divorce decree and property settlement. So along the way of the application, it’s only three pages that most employees have to fill out within those three pages. Be sure to really read every single question and answer every question. The other one I find that employees mess up on. It’s common because we’re hurry. We’re always in a hurry. It’ll say have you previously filed any applications with Office of Personnel Management for FERS or CSRS, and there’s a box there that says retirement and lo and behold, everybody checks the retirement box. Looks like we don’t have that many reemployed annuitants that’s only hired before, not this time. So read the question. Read it two or three times have somebody check it over for you. If you have a personnel office who has the time and they’re close by to do this, I would have them go through it with you to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Make sure you’ve attached everything that needs to be attached, because that in itself can cause a delay. It’s a stupid delay because I didn’t sign something I forgot to put in my marriage certificate, but they’re not going to finish processing until they get that


Micah: most of these things aren’t the end of the world things but it’s all about making it more efficient in your retirement right. Do you only want a six month delay? Or do you want a 12 month delay and getting your retirement check? Well, I don’t know. I would kind of prefer the shorter of the two. And that requires us to do a little bit of work in advance to try to streamline this. Okay, so we’ve gone away from 12 months, six months, 90 days out, 30 days out, we’ve talked about that. Then we have kind of the day of retirement. And at least the D day that’s right and retirement day which is super exciting. To me anything in particular that you’d like to remind the federal employees of on the day of retirement,


Tammy: Clean out your desk, say your goodbyes, and that’s your last day on the job. But keep in mind that as you walk out the door, they’re not going to hand you your lumps on the annual leave check. You know when you hand in your badge, you’re not going to get a check for 30 hours of leave or whatever it is you have on the place right? So keep in mind that that’s that’s the end of your federal career. Now you’re going to go home and wait for your final paycheck. Your final one sum payout of annual leave. Your payroll office should be sending you a notice telling you when they’re sending everything to OPM. It’s not happening before you walk out the door. They’re not going to send anything to OPM until they know you’ve separated. I always tell employees that retirement is a voluntary action for most employees, which means you can change your mind even up to the day of separation. You can say hey, I realized I made a mistake. Send me my application back and they have to do that. So that’s why they don’t send it out. They just don’t process anything until you’ve left.


Micah: Yeah, it’s not penalize you. It’s because it’s voluntary. It’s because of the flexibility of your benefits, which is beautiful. The only thing that I failed to kind of mentioned on the 90 days out which I like to get set up Tammy on the financial planning side is getting ready to turn on any income that you’re gonna need. Right so let’s say you separate from service, right? We got retirement age, just fantastic. As you said, you don’t get that leave check when you walk out. You’re gonna get it the next pay cycle. So maybe it’s 14 maybe it’s 20 some odd days out but you’re gonna get that leave check. But then there’s going to be a gap in income, your paycheck stops coming in. And so your retirement is adjudicated tilt certified by OPM. And so you got to make sure you have those other income sources turned on and ready to go. I want my clients to sail into retirement with ease, and that means they have money coming in, whether it’s money from savings, money from investments or something of that nature. Make sure you’re setting that up in advance. So it’s not a surprise when you retire.


Tammy: Question came in or actually a suggestion from someone who wrote to me and they said, Hey, I just found out that I can do something and I want you to share this with your audience. I’m reading it with interest they go oh, this is cool tip and what she said she did and I am not sharing this to say this is what you should do because I know Micah is going to shoot this down. But did you know that you can borrow from your TSP account so she said she took out $50,000 loan and she can pay that back as we can now do you can pay back your TSP in retirement so you can make loan payments. And she did this just like you said to have this cash on hand. So if it took too long to process her retirement, she could dip into that $50,000 loan and use that to pay our bills. And once OPM squared everything away, then she could pay it back off. So she says why don’t you suggest that people do this before they retire to borrow from their thrift and then they got the money? And I would imagine if you had no other resource, maybe you need to do that. But then I’m questioning whether or not you shouldn’t even be retiring right now if you have cash reserves, but can you think of any other reason why somebody shouldn’t borrow from their thrift right before they walk out the door? 


Micah: Well, one thing we got to keep in mind when we borrow money from the thrift team as you know, we’re pulling money out of the investments right so what’s the goal of the thrift and as as we know, logically, but sometimes we forget emotionally, we get close to retirement. We’re like hey, I need to be conservative with my money. That means I need to take everything out of the CS and I need to put it all on the G fund. Well, a portion of it maybe should be in the G fund. I could argue that but all of your retirement savings, boy that’s not going to keep up with inflation that’s not going to help raise taxes, right, that money still needs to grow for you. So if we reach out and we pull 50 grand out just for giggles, not only do we have to pay interest on that money back to the account, now you’re saying well, you’re paying yourself the interest back, but we’re giving up potential market growth and it’s kind of creating a bit of a bad habit. So as a last resort, maybe that’s a good option that you could do that wouldn’t be what I would lean to, we got to be financially ready to retire which means we got to have cash reserves to bridge the time for when you separate to an OPM finalizes that pension.


Tammy: Right. And like, like she was telling me her justification was, hey, I’m only paying back 4% interest. I can’t get that interest anywhere else on a loan. But as you said, Micah, and this is money that’s not coming from the bank giving you money. This is money that could have been earning seven or eight or 10% interest and you’re only putting back 4%. Over time, you’re going to end up with a loss. In the end. The only time that might work out is if the markets in a declining rate. And it’s gonna stay that way for the next couple of years, which we hope not.


Micah: But the 4% interest, you’re paying yourself back. Keep in mind that that’s money coming out of your right pocket going to your left, so you’re not getting a rate of return. Right. What you’re saying is I took out you know, I gotta make $100 payments, but I’m going to pay back 104. That’s what you’re saying. Right? So so that that quote interest you’re getting is money coming out of your left pocket to your right pocket is not investment growth.


Tammy: Right, it’s tax. When you do pull the money eventually out from the thrift you got to write a tax on it again. They don’t write out the interest from your actual payment because it’s all considered pre tax. So think about it, it falls so I don’t necessarily think either one of us would recommend people do that. I know people have done it though.


Micah: It is like I said it is an option, right is definitely not my leading one that I would go to and I’m sure not yours as well. Alright, so Tammy, so we get into retirement, you know, and everything kind of goes there. If you haven’t got the package from OPM, kind of after you’ve retired, I’m sorry, the package from HR of everything they sent to OPM, then follow up with your agency. Hopefully we got to before retirement, but sometimes we can’t for whatever reason. So you got to get it after retirement. We still review it. And then Tammy here is that we knowingly is going to be paid out kind of the next pay cycle ish. One or two, it’s going to be paid out. Here’s the fun two questions. When’s the interim payments going to start and when does the pension get finalized?


Tammy: Yeah. So once the payroll system they’ve got 30 days sometimes it takes them six weeks to send this whole package to OPM. And OPM causes intake and processing and they literally have a mailroom, because most of this comes as a FedEx envelope paper documents, so they set up a cardboard folder with an ACO fastener and get everything organized in your folder. Literal folder. It’s not final on your computer, and then they start the process. So they’re going to determine Are you eligible to retire? Is it clear from the documentation that you’re old enough and have enough service? If they see that you have title to an immediate annuity? And they have to do further processing, obviously, they’re going to put you in what’s called interim pay. Now that interim pay according to OPM says it’s a portion of your estimated annuity payment which works out to be 60 to 80% of your final net payment for most people. That’s not all people and also keep in mind that they don’t include the first supplement. So you’re thinking I’m gonna get this $1,500 a month for a supplement. Well, you’re not going to get that until they finalize the payment, which can take another three to five months beyond that first month. So now you’re a month into retirement, maybe even two months or a month and a half. Now you’ve got another three to five months to wait until everything’s kind of come out in the wash. And during that time If you’re fortunate, most people will get the interim pay, you’re gonna get a partial payment. The only thing they’re withholding from that is federal tax. They’re not withholding insurance. So with your dental vision, you’ve got to pay that directly to benefits and long term care as well. With health and life insurance OPM will take care of that. In the end, your coverage will continue as long as you are eligible to maintain it in retirement, but then they’ll withhold that from the final payment whenever they tie up all the loose ends. But that process at that point, can still take another three to five months.


Micah: That’s the big thing that we want to talk about right here right is that delay now? I tell clients expect between 40 and 60%, not 60 and 80. On their interim check. I’m just trying to set a little bit lower expectations. The other thing that I tell clients to me be interesting, your feedback on this is saying you know what I it really doesn’t matter what your interim check is, and it’s also probably going to get changed a couple times. And it also doesn’t matter what it gets changed to and why do I say it doesn’t matter? Because there’s nothing that we can do about it. If it’s $1 if it’s 10,000 there’s zero we can do about it entail OPM adjudicates your pension till they finalize now once they finalize it, now we get that beautiful booklet in the mail that talks about all of your benefits and how it was calculated. Now this is an important booklet to review and we got to make sure you’re getting all of your money because we got a bit of a limited time to appeal that.


Tammy:  That’s right. When you get your final payment. They call it the adjustment payment where they put everything in the bank for you that they owe you supposedly what they owe you from the time your retirement began. And then like you said, you’ll get the blue booklet that summarizes everything and you should study that and make sure you understand it and make sure it’s what you thought it was going to be because I’ve seen cases where the former spouse was listed for the survivor benefit, even though the person was currently married, of seeing people who said they’re taking an age reduction even though it was a regular unreduced annuity. So this there can be errors and they do give you 30 days to ask for reconsideration to say I don’t agree with what’s in here. Here’s why. Here’s what it is and be very brief and concise with your ask for reconsideration and you’ll get a response back. But this is where the problems can start. So you’re hoping that everything was done ahead of time so that it goes smoothly. It’s accurate and you’re not going to have those unpleasant surprises when the whole thing comes out in the wash. Because once OPM starts paying that monthly check, and it’s final, you have no problems that check is gonna go in the bank automatically on time every month, as long as you live. If you make it to 115 you’ll still get those monthly checks. Sometimes they pay even after you die, which that becomes a problem. Whenever somebody keeps cashing those checks and you’re not here, but that’s another podcast but but it’s this transition period that can be very scary for many people because you’re might not hear much from OPM during that three to five months. You’re wondering did they forget about me? You know what’s happening. You can’t even really go on services online, the online portal to find out the status they don’t really give you a status report. They don’t have the we’re not electronic yet with OPM, so that’s what I’m waiting for. That’s going to be the big improvement. So amazing. Yeah, once things can be that way. I’ll be happy. That’s an only..


Micah: Tammy one. That’s when you retire so never. So one question you had mentioned a 30 days and I just want to be a little clearer to our listeners, that once their retirement is adjudicated, once it’s finalized, they have 30 days to ask for reconsideration. When does the 30 days start from when OPM says your retirement is finalized or from when they receive the booklet in the mail? When does that 30 day period begin?


Tammy: I believe it’s the date that’s on the booklet there’s a date on there saying this is when your claim was finalized and they give you that date. So I believe it’s 30 days from that date. So it might be another week before you receive the booklet in the mail. So we were already in a week of the…


Micah: That’s what I like to bring up to my Alaska clients, particularly because I say look, you’re gonna get this booklet two weeks after 30 days has begun, right? So you don’t have 30 days from receipt of the booklet. You have 30 days from that date it was certified now we’ve also had clients that believe it or not, they like to travel in retirement. And so we had one client that was just gone for the period of time because we don’t know when the retirements going to be finalized. And they missed their 30 day window and we had to do multiple sets of appeals to say hey, look, this is unrealistic. It was to get seven months to process retirement. The client was on an RV trip to the lower 48 you did  their retirement wrong guess we’re out of the 30 day period, you know, but we had to ask for an appeal to get the reconsideration in place and OPM did acquiesced which was nice. But these are kind of real timelines we have to be watching.


Tammy: Yeah, I always recommend  trying not to go on a big trip in those first few months after retirement because if OPM is sending something back to you even if it’s not even if it’s before your claim is adjudicated. You might have 30 days to respond. And if you don’t respond, they’ll make the decision for you. Like in other words, I had a woman who owed money to the retirement fund and they gave her one last chance to pay it. And if she didn’t respond, they were going to assume that she didn’t want to pay it. And who knows she might get out and make that deposit but you need to know anything with a return address because they generally mail things to you. They don’t generally email you or call you. It’ll usually be a letterhead with OPM on it and that’s you open that up right away. It’s important.


Micah: Very important. Alright, Tammy. Well, this podcast is all about action items. So we talked about a lot of things today in the process and operations and in fact, we have to cut some of this out because we could go on for another 30 minutes in what you should do. But what are some top action items I can kick this off and say number one is every person listening if you haven’t done this already, go I don’t read regardless of your age, go get an entire copy of your EOPF at least all of your SF 50s and get them in your personal files, not on a government device.


Tammy: Yeah. And I guess the other thing to do is to try and find out who is that person in your HR office is going to handle your case. There is somebody there sometimes there’s only one person for the whole organization if it’s a small agency, or it could be by alphabet you everybody with A through E goes to Mr. Johnson. Everything through G goes to Miss Smith, to find out who that person is to come a handle your case because if you have questions, you got to know who to call. 


Micah: I love it. It always I guess the third action item on here. Give us five stars. I mean, come on. You got to the end of it. You gotta love the podcast. Our goal is to help transform the lives of federal employees by better education on their benefits. We want to help another 1 million federal employees with their retirement and that helps start with you. So thank you guys so much for tuning in. Tammy as always, it is such a pleasure to be able to spend this time with you and until next time, happy planning


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