Skip to page navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites. / Retirement / Application Tips

Planning to Retire Soon?

OPM has resources and tips to make your federal retirement application process easier. We can help you prepare, avoid common mistakes, and know what to expect once you submit your application.

Preparing to Retire

If you're a current federal employee, contact your agency benefits officer for help with your retirement application. And if you’re six months or less away from retirement, visit the Planning and Applying page for detailed information on actions to take before you apply, including:

  • Resolving any debts to your employer, like travel advances
  • Obtaining a military retired pay waiver
  • Paying or completing a military service deposit
  • Establishing your eligibility for Medicare coverage
  • Choosing your exact retirement date, and
  • Setting up direct deposit of your annuity checks.

Check below for information about benefits eligibility and documentation you may need to submit with your application.

Healthcare: To be eligible to continue your Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) insurance in retirement, you must hold five consecutive years of FEHB coverage immediately before retiring. This includes:

  • FEHB coverage you hold through your employer
  • Coverage under a family member’s FEHB plan
  • Coverage through a military health program like TRICARE, CHAMPUS, or CHAMPVA. If you are enrolled in a military health program, you must in an FEHB plan before you retire.

Life insurance: To be eligible to continue your Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) coverage in retirement, you must hold FEGLI coverage for five consecutive years immediately before you retire.

If you are eligible, your options are to:

  • Keep the same level of coverage you carried continuously in the five years before your retirement date
  • Reduce your coverage (for example, if you carried Option B coverage, you can choose to reduce the number of multiples you carry)
  • Choose not to continue your coverage.

Make sure your electronic official personnel folder (eOPF) includes records from all of your previous federal jobs. If it doesn’t, work with your HR office to retrieve those records.

Depending on your situation, you may need to submit additional documentation with your retirement application. Give yourself enough time to collect these documents.  

If you: 

Are married

A copy of your marriage certificate (if it’s not in English, you will need a translated version)

Are divorced (and your former spouse is alive)

A certified copy of your complete divorce decree and separation agreements

Have unmarried, dependent children under age 22

Proof of their status, such as a copy of each child’s birth record

Have disabled children who can’t support themselves

Your child’s birth certificate

Have military service

Copies of all DD 214s (member-4 copy)

A letter from your agency confirming that you've paid your military service deposit in full

Any notice of award for military retired pay, and/or a request for military retired pay waiver, along with the approval notice from the military finance office if applicable

Completing Your Retirement Application

Find the forms you need:

  • SF 2801: Application for Immediate Retirement (if you are enrolled in CSRS)
  • SF 2809: Health Benefits Election Form
  • SF 2818: Continuation of Life Insurance (FEGLI)
  • SF 2823: Designation of FEGLI Beneficiary
  • SF 3102: Designation of CSRS and FERS Beneficiary
  • SF 3107: Application for Immediate Retirement for FERS 

Avoid Common Mistakes That Cause Delays

Even small mistakes in your retirement application can cause delays – unsigned forms, for example.

  • Be sure to provide all required signatures and double-check that all forms are complete before you submit them.
  • Use your personal contact information (email address, phone number, mailing address), not your work contact details. This is how OPM will reach you after you retire.
  • If you make a mistake on a form, fill out a new one. Forms with corrective actions like cross-outs or white-out can cause delays.

View the sections below for more tips to avoid common application errors. 

Mistakes on the FEGLI form, which determines the life insurance you’ll have after retirement, frequently cause application processing delays. Here are the most common errors and how to avoid them.  

Error: Unsigned, incomplete, or corrected form 

To avoid this error: 

  • Complete the form electronically (instead of by hand), then print, sign, and date the completed form.
  • If you want to continue Option B and/or Option C into retirement, be sure to enter both the number of multiples you want to keep (“No Reduction”) and the number of multiples you do not want to keep (“Full Reduction”) after age 65 in question 11 (for Option B) and 13 (for Option C). Don’t leave a reduction line blank!

Error: Choosing more coverage than allowed  

To avoid this error:  

  • Verify the amount of life insurance coverage you are eligible to continue after retirement. To continue life insurance after retirement you must have been insured for the 5 years immediately before you retire. Read more about continuing life insurance into retirement.
  • Double-check your response to each optional insurance coverage question:
  • Mark “No” if you are eligible to continue an option into retirement but do not want to.
  • Mark “I don’t have” if you are not eligible to continue an option into retirement, or if you did not have it during your employment. 
  • If you choose to continue Option B or Option C into retirement, complete both reduction lines (Line 11 for Option B, Line 13 for Option C). The two lines added together must be equal to or less than the number of multiples you are eligible to continue in retirement.

Error: Not submitting the SF 2818 

To avoid this error:  

  • If you are enrolled in FEGLI coverage at the time of retirement, be sure to complete the SF 2818 form and submit it to your HR Office.

Error: Insufficient proof of health benefits during employment  

To be eligible to continue your health benefits into retirement, you must provide documentation that you maintained continuous health insurance coverage under FEHB, TRICARE, CHAMPUS, or CHAMPVA in the five years leading up to your retirement.  

To avoid this error:  

  • Verify that you’ve maintained FEHB coverage continuously for the 5-year period immediately before retirement and keep personal copies of your agency-validated FEHB forms.
  • If you had coverage under TRICARE, CHAMPUS, or CHAMPVA during the 5-year period before retirement, 
  • provide documentation verifying coverage dates.
  • ensure that you are enrolled in FEHB coverage before your retirement date.
  • If you had coverage under a family member’s FEHB enrollment during the 5-year period before retirement, provide copies of the SF 2809s validated by that family member’s HR Office.
  • When completing the FEHB election form (SF 2809) during Open Season or due to a Qualifying Life Event, be sure to fill out both Part B and Part C when making enrollment changes.

Error: Not submitting a marriage certificate copy 

To avoid this error:  

  • Find or get a copy of your marriage certificate before you retire.
  • If you’re married at the time you retire, give your HR office a copy of your marriage certificate, regardless of what survivor benefits you choose. 
  • If your marriage certificate is not in English, get a certified translation of it before you retire. 

Error: Corrected SF 3107-2 (Spousal Consent form)  

If you choose anything other than a maximum survivor benefit for your spouse, you must submit a complete SF 3107-2. OPM does not accept forms that have been altered or corrected (for example, with crossed-out or whited-out mistakes), so you must provide a clean SF 3107-2. 

To avoid this error:  

  • Proofread the prepared SF 3107-2 carefully – before it is signed by your spouse and notarized! – to make sure it matches your survivor annuity election in Section D of SF 3107 (your retirement application form). 
  • Bring at least two copies of the prepared Spousal Consent form with you and your spouse to the notary, just in case the notary makes a mistake on the first copy.
  • Be sure the notary (and your spouse) understand that this form cannot have any corrective actions or alterations. 

Error: Not submitting DD 214  

To avoid this error:  

  • Submit copies of DD 214s (official military service records) for all periods of potentially creditable military service, even if you are not paying a military service deposit. 
  • Be sure each DD 214 includes your active-duty start and end dates, your character of service (i.e., honorable), and any lost time.

Error: Missing or illegible information on DD 214 

To avoid this error:  

  • Verify that any official military service documentation you submit is legible in all sections.
  • Make sure that each DD 214 you submit includes your active-duty start and end dates, your character of service (i.e., honorable), and any lost time. 
  • If you are submitting a document other than a DD 214, make sure it includes your active-duty service, active-duty start and end dates, character of service (i.e., honorable), and any lost time. 

After You Apply

Once you’ve submitted your application, OPM works with your agency and payroll office to process your claim. See our retirement quick guide for estimated processing times and an overview of the claims process. When OPM receives information from your payroll office, we will assign you a retirement claim number, which you can use to set up your Services Online account and manage your annuity information online.

More Help

Still have questions? These additional resources may help:

Control Panel