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When To Start The Process To Retirement?

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I’m planning to retire December 31, 2025; I will have 10 years and 8 months. When should I start the process? – Angelia

Planning for retirement involves multiple steps, and timing is crucial. Angela, one of our readers with over ten years of federal service, plans to retire in December 2025 and asked when she should start the retirement process. This is a great question, starting at the right time ensures a smooth transition. By initiating the process early, you take control of your retirement journey, ensuring a seamlesstransition.

Gather Your Documentation

Start with The Basics: Irrespective of your retirement date, the first step is to gather all your SF 50s, which are personnel action notifications. It’s vital to download these documents from a government device to your personal device. Maintaining accurate service records is crucial after you separate from service, as inaccurate records are one of the most common errors in retirement processing. The other document we recommend getting is your Certified Summary of Federal Service. This is form SF 3107-1. It is the only form that OPM will recognize in calculating your creditable years of service. You can request this from your HR department and they will need to complete the form. 

Understanding Your Agency's Timeline

Check with Your Agency: Contact your agency to understand their specific retirement application timelines. Some agencies allow retirement applications six months in advance, which is fantastic. However, most agencies still operate on a three-month (90 days) advance submission policy.

Steps to Take Based on Your Retirement Date

For a December 2025 Retirement: If you’re retiring on December 31, 2025, start the process by August or September 2025. Inform your agency of your retirement plans and request the necessary retirement paperwork. Fill out the retirement application and submit it to your agency 90 days in advance.

The Application Process

Submission and Follow-Up: After submitting your application, your agency will process it. Initially, there may be little action taken, but as your retirement date approaches, they should start reviewing your application and preparing for your departure. After you retire, usually a couple of days post-retirement, your agency will send your retirement package to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Verify Your Package: It’s essential to obtain a copy of everything sent to OPM. Review this package to ensure it includes all necessary documents, such as SF 50s, spousal benefits forms, and health insurance elections. This proactive step is crucial in identifying any missing information and anticipating any follow-up required from OPM.

Final Tips

Start Early, if Possible: Begin the retirement process as early as your agency allows. At a minimum, start at least four months before your planned retirement date to ensure a smooth and timely transition.

Schedule a call with a financial advisor: If you have questions or need guidance, don’t hesitate to consult with a financial advisor familiar with federal retirement systems. They can provide personalized advice to help you navigate the retirement process effectively.

For more information and personalized advice, visit our website and schedule a consultation with one of our experts. Planning your retirement can be complex, but with the right preparation and support, you can ensure a secure and enjoyable retirement.

Micah Shilanski  00:04

Have you ever wondered when you should start your retirement process? Well, if so, then stay tuned for this FERS federal fact check. Hi, I’m Micah Shilanski with Plan Your Federal Retirement and welcome to this FERS federal fact check. Today we have a question that came in from Angelia, and she’s talking about her retirement a little over 10 years of federal service, and she says she’s planning on retiring in December of 2025, so when should you start the process? Angela? That’s a great question. Now there’s a lot of things that come into the process, and really what that means, and in fact, we have a whole piece we put together on your retirement timeline and being effective with that. But let’s start with where we’re at today. Number one, this advice is kind of to everyone, regardless when you’re going to retire, start by getting all of your SF-50s, your notifications of personal action. Make sure you’re downloading those off of a government device onto your personal device, so that after you separate from service, you have proof of your creditable service. We talked about this a lot. It’s one of the biggest errors we continually see – is inaccurate creditable service for retirement. So I’d start with that now. Now, when it comes to retirement application, I like to contact your agency, and let’s find out. Some agencies are allowing retirement applications six months in advance, which is fantastic. Most are still only reading three months, three months or 90 days in advance. So you need to contact your agency and find out what they’re going to do. If it’s an agency is three months in advance, you’re going to retire December 31 that means in September, I like to contact the agency for August and let them know you’re going to retire, and ask for the retirement paperwork. They’re going to be able to send that information to you. You’re going to be able to fill out their retirement application and then submit it to them 90 days in advance. Now, the normal processes, they’re going to get this and they’re probably not going to do anything right away. Don’t worry, it’s because they have other stuff to do. As you get closer to December, they should be following the process, pulling it up and contacting you about your upcoming retirement date. After that happens and you retire on, let’s say, December 31 a couple days later, they ship off your package to OPM, the Office of Personnel Management, and then OPM is going to process your retirement. One of the things, and this is in that one page piece we have together in your retirement timeline, I really like for you to do is make sure you get a copy of everything that goes to OPM. When you get that copy, you can kind of thumb through it and you can see, hey, is all of my information there? Do they have all my SF-50s? Do they have the spousal form in there for survivor benefits? They have the health insurance election, all these great things. And in case you’re missing anything, you kind of get a heads up on what you might be hearing from OPM. So Angelia, the short answer is at least three months in advance, which, if I might clock, is really four months is when I like to start that process before retirement. Is the latest I would start. If your agency, allows you to do it sooner, and absolutely start that process, sooner. If you have questions like these and go ahead and submit them, and you could be featured in the next FERS Federal fact check. Until then, happy planning.

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