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Learn more about applying for retirement benefits

FAQs and answers about applying for federal retirement benefits.

Questions and answers

It takes around 60 days (2 months) to process applications for common cases.

Your application could take longer if:

  • We need additional information from you or your former employing agency
  • Your retirement claim has special circumstances, like applying under disability provisions, a specific retirement law (LEO, FF, or ATC), or evaluating a court order
  • We need to contact you to make a benefit election, like a service credit deposit
  • We need to contact another agency, like the Social Security Administration, if a benefit from them impacts your claim

Learn about average days to process federal retirement applications

Your agency's HR and payroll offices work to create your retirement application package, and then they send it to OPM for processing.

Your HR office will work to:

  • Complete the Agency Check List of Immediate Retirement Procedures (SF-2801, Schedule D for CSRS or SF-3701, Schedule D for FERS)
  • Prepare and get your signature on the Certified Summary of Federal Service (SF-2801-1 for CSRS or SF-3701-1 for FERS)
  • Verify any service not fully documented in your Official Personnel Folder. (If documentation is missing, your HR office may need to contact federal record centers. If they can't get verification, OPM will work to complete verification once we get your retirement application package. This process will add time to your application processing.)
  • Certify and transfer your coverage under the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program to OPM
  • Certify and transfer your enrollment under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program to OPM
  • Prepare Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50)
  • Send all of your retirement materials to your agency's payroll office

They will send your retirement package to your agency's payroll office, who will work to:

  • Authorize your final pay check and lump sum payment for unused annual leave
  • Prepare your Individual Retirement Record (SF-2806 for CSRS or SF-3100 for FERS), which documents your federal service, salary history, and annual retirement contributions
  • Send all your retirement documentation to OPM for processing

After OPM receives your retirement package from your agency, we'll notify you and then assign you a claim number. After you get this notification and claim number, you can contact us to get an update on the status of processing your retirement application.

OPM will send you a welcome letter and personalized retirement booklet. Your booklet will detail your entire retirement benefits package, including how much your monthly annuity payment will be, your enrollment in health care and life insurance coverage, and information you will need to prepare your annual tax returns.

You'll need to apply for corrected retirement program coverage.

Learn more about how to switch retirement programs

Maybe. If your agency undergoes a major reorganization, reduction in force, or transfer of function, and a significant percentage of the employees will be separated or will be reduced in pay, then the head of your agency can ask OPM to allow early optional retirement for eligible employees.

If your agency gets approval to allow early optional retirements, eligible employees will be notified of the opportunity to retire voluntarily.

Learn more about early optional retirement under CSRS

Learn more about early optional retirement under FERS

No. A completed and signed retirement application is equivalent to a letter of resignation.

If you leave the federal service but you're eligible for a retirement benefit in the future, you should not resign. You should just wait to submit a retirement application at a later date. This is because if you die after separating from service but before submitting a retirement application, then no life insurance, no survivor benefit, and no survivor health benefits would be available to your survivors. You should still complete all the other required exit procedures from your HR office.

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