Retiring: Pays to plan ahead…

The No. 1 complaint people have after retiring is how long it takes them to get the first full annuity payment. Depending on a lot of things it can take anywher...

The No. 1 complaint people have after retiring is how long it takes them to get the first full annuity payment. Depending on a lot of things it can take anywhere from a couple of months to more than a year.

Some people get by nicely on 80 percent of their estimated final annuity. Especially if they have saved up a cushion of cash. But lots of people don’t do that. And for them, being given less than they expected for an extended period of time makes things tough. Some have had to tap into their TSP accounts before they planned to.

For many members of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), David Snell is the go-to guy. He’s director of retirement services and a long-time (now retired) veteran of the Office of Personnel Management. I asked David to fill in while I’m on vacation:

Honoring a World Class Workforce

Recent news from the Office of Personnel Management has created a cloud over what promised to be a bright retirement experience for thousands of federal workers.

Due to budget restraints brought on by sequestration, OPM’s Retirement Services, the arm of the agency that administers federal retirement and benefits to the majority of civilian government employees, announced it was stopping all overtime for adjudicating new retirement claims and cutting back the hours its Retirement Information Office will be available to answer questions and assist callers. On top of that, we also learned the agency was going to entice some of the current staff assigned to retirement casework to retire now rather than wait. This can’t be good for feds who want to retire soon.

Over a year and a half ago, then OPM Director John Berry promised to make new retirement claim processing his top priority in 2012. And indeed he did. By hiring additional staff, implementing more overtime, improving the retirement processing within OPM’s control, and by providing guidance to agencies on submitting error-free retirement packages, OPM was ahead of its projections to reduce the retirement claims backlog and be in a position by July of this year to fully process 90 percent of new retirement within 90 days. But that was then, and this is now.

With fewer staff and no back-up such as overtime, it is difficult to believe OPM will meet its stated goal. Should retirement processing experience a growing backlog, federal workers will once again be part of an overall effort to reduce the budget. Already, they have gone three years without a pay raise, and new hires will be contributing more and getting nothing more in return for it when they retire. This is no way for the government to honor a world-class workforce. — David Snell


Compiled by Jack Moore

To disguise the invention of radar (which enabled British gunners to shoot down German planes with greatly increased accuracy), the British ascribed the pilots’ improved performance on having their pilots consume large quantities of carrots. “This lie not only convinced the Germans, but also had a bonus effect of causing many British people to start planting their own vegetable gardens, including planting carrots,” according to Today I Found Out.


Feds in same-sex marriages given 60 days to update benefits
With the Supreme Court ruling this week that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, the Office of Personnel Management is giving federal employees in legal same-sex marriages 60 days to update or apply for new federal benefits. Federal employees in same-sex marriages have until August 26 to make changes to their health and life insurance among other benefits, according to a new memo from acting OPM Director Elaine Kaplan.

New whistleblower protections take effect for federal contractors
The law, which goes into effect today, expands reprisal protections to subcontractors and lets contractor employees report wrongdoing to supervisors within their own companies. Previously, contractors would have to go to government agencies or Congress to report waste, fraud and abuse.

Senate confirms GSA’s Tangherlini, others to key agency posts
The top spots at a few key federal agencies are now officially filled following Senate confirmation votes this week. The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to approve Dan Tangherlini to be the administrator of the General Services Administration and Howard Shelanski to serve as the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget. Senators also OK’d Brian Deese to serve as OMB deputy director for budget.

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