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Frequently Asked Questions Retirement

  • You should begin planning several years before the date you have set for retirement so that you will know what is required to continue certain benefits into retirement. There are many factors related to retirement planning, and it is literally never too early to begin. The federal annuity is only one element to consider in today's complex financial scene. You may need to start a Thrift Savings Plan or IRA schedule many years before considering actual retirement. Other considerations, such as Social Security may affect your benefits.

    However, the best place to begin is with your local personnel service center. They can provide personalized assistance and they have your employment records.

    Your health and life insurance coverages are of immediate concern now because you must carry coverage continuously for at least five years before your retirement or you may be ineligible to continue them.

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  • The program will become effective at the time set in the regulations to be issued.  Implementation of the program is an important goal of OPM, and this will be accomplished as soon as possible.  
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  •  

    As of February 2012, our average processing time is 5 months from the date we receive your final paperwork from your human resources and payroll offices.  Of the current pending claims workload, 47 percent are less than 2 months old and 25 percent are older than 6 months.

     

    If we need additional information from you or your former employing agency, your claim will take longer to process.  Additional time will also be needed if we need to contact you to make a benefit election, such as a decision to make a service credit deposit, or if we need to contact an external agency, such as SSA for an offset calculation.

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  • Please select the retirement system and date of adjustment from this list.
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  • If you receive a Federal pension and are also eligible for Social Security benefits based on your own employment record, a different formula may be used to compute your Social Security benefit. This formula will result in a lower benefit. The Windfall Elimination Provision affects workers who reach age 62 or become disabled after 1985 and are first eligible after 1985 for a Federal pension.

    The Windfall Elimination Provision does not apply if:

    • You were eligible to retire before January 1, 1986; or,
    • You were first employed by the government after December 31, 1983; or,
    • You have 30 or more years of substantial earnings under Social Security.
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  • Check with your local personnel service center to verify that you have enough service and meet the age requirements for retirement eligibility. They can provide personalized assistance because they have your employment records.

    Your local personnel service center will also talk with you about the date your annuity payments can start based on the date you pick.

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  • If no survivor annuity is payable upon the retiree's death, any remaining portion, representing either the remaining annuity and/or retirement contributions not paid to the retiree, is payable to the person(s) eligible under the order of precedence. If the court assigned payment under a court order, we will pay the lump sum in accordance with that court order. Otherwise, we will pay benefits under the following order of precedence:

    • to the designated beneficiary;
    • if there is no such beneficiary, to the widow or widower;
    • if none of the above, to the child or children, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants of that child (a court will usually have to appoint a guardian to receive payment for a minor child);
    • if none of the above, to the parents in equal shares or the entire amount to a surviving parent;
    • if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of the estate; or
    • if none of the above, to the next of kin as determined under the laws of the State where the retiree lived.
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  • Monthly payments to a surviving spouse generally continue for life unless your spouse remarries before age 55. If your spouse was married to you for at least 30 years, he or she can continue receiving benefits when there is a remarriage before age 55 occurring after January 1, 1995.
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  • There are many reasons for changing your health benefits enrollment. If you are changing your coverage because of one of the reasons listed below, we can make the change based on your telephone call. When calling you must have your claim number and social security number, as well as the enrollment number and name for your new plan. Changes we can make by phone include:

    • You are changing to self-only coverage from family coverage;
    • You are changing plans because you have moved out of the service area of your Health Maintenance Organization (HMO);
    • You turned 65 and are changing to a lower cost plan option because you are eligible for Medicare;
    • You are changing your enrollment during the annual Health Benefits Open Season, which usually runs from mid-November to early December; or
    • You are changing to family coverage because you marry, or have or adopt a child. (This option is not available to survivors.)

    You should contact us within the period beginning 31 days before up to 60 days after the date of the event.

    You may change the plan in which you are enrolled or from high to low option coverage during the annual Open Season for electing coverage.

    If you need assistance with your health benefits enrollment, call 1 (888) 767-6738 , to change your enrollment or if you need to speak with a Customer Service Specialist. Or, see our web pages at http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/index.asp to obtain information about health insurance benefits online.

    If you are eligible for TRICARE or TRICARE-For-Life benefits, you may suspend your FEHB coverage and premium payments. You are able to reenroll in the FEHB Program during the Open Season, or immediately if you are involuntarily disenrolled from the TRICARE program. Select this link to find answers to frequently asked questions on this topic.

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  • You can use Retirement Services Online at https://www.servicesonline.opm.gov.  You will need your claim number and Personal Identification Number (PIN) to use the self-service website.

    If you forgot your PIN, you can request a new one by mail here: https://www.servicesonline.opm.gov/Security/requestpassword.aspx.  Alternatively, you can call the Retirement Operations Center at 1-888-767-6738 and request a new PIN.  The phone lines are open from 7:40 am to 5:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time).
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