Retirement menu: Filet & cabernet or dog food & Dr. Pepper?

What are the three things that every about-to-retire G-man or -woman can\'t do without, but may have to do without for an extended period of time?. Clue: The mo...

Okay, so you are getting ready to retire, maybe this year, maybe next. Pay is frozen. And the freeze may be extended. But a 3-plus percent COLA for retired feds is likely in 2012. Also, a growing number of agencies are offering buyouts. This is enough food for thought to get some long-time feds to calculate the pros and cons of retirement. So, before you pull the plug, what are you going to need in retirement?

Men: Go to the nearest leisure shop or thrift store. Buy at least a dozen no-iron trousers that reach to your sternum. A thin white belt is a nice touch. The rest of your wardrobe will take care of itself.

Women: Get a visor or a very wide brim hat. And some golf shirts. And comfortable shoes, like nurses wear.

Men and Women: Money. Have lots and lots of money. That’s because even though you will get a lifetime annuity indexed to inflation some retirees say it takes a lifetime to actually get it. At least the full amount.

Emails from a number of recently (and some not-so-recently) retired feds say they spent months getting interim annuity checks that were much, much smaller than they expected based on estimates given them by their former agency.

So what’s the deal? How long does it take between retirement and the month when you get your first full annuity check? For some retirees it is way too long.

Today at 10 a.m. (EDT) on our Your Turn radio show we’ll talk with Steve Losey. He’s a senior writer for the Federal Times and he’s been tracking OPM’s efforts to speed up its retirement claims processing operation. Most of the information agencies send OPM is in the form of paper. And it takes time — too much time, according to some retirees — to figure out the final amount due the retiree.

In the “For Managers Only” spot on Your Turn, Jessica Klement will lead off the show. She’s chief lobbyist for the Federal Managers Association and she’ll give us the latest from Capitol Hill. You may not like what you hear but you definitely need to know what’s out there. What are the odds Congress will extend the pay freeze, change retirement rules, hike your health premiums and devalue future retiree COLAs?

Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.


The Four Corners Monument, which marks the spot where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all meet, is actually 1,800 feet east of the coordinates originally mandated by Congress, according to “Life’s Little Mysteries.” But ever since the monument was built (in 1875), it has marked the official boundary lines between the states.

In today’s Mike’s Take, Mike answers this age-old question…If you could have dinner with one person, alive or dead, who would it be? Read the column.


Feds face tougher rules to interact with lobbyists
The Office of Government Ethics would severely limit the exceptions employees have used to attend events or accept gifts worth less than $50 a year from registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations.

Bill to avert another FAA shutdown passes House
The House on Tuesday approved a stopgap bill intended to avoid a shutdown of federal highway and aviation programs, with Senate action expected later this week.

Senate panel approves freeze in defense spending
A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a freeze in defense spending at $513 billion for the next military budget, including a $1.6 billion cut in funds that the Pentagon says it doesn’t need for Afghanistan security forces even as the U.S. Embassy in Kabul came under attack.

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