Planning to work ’til you drop? Why not? (Part 1)

Depending on which expert you google, the average age of retirement for federal workers is late 50s to early 60s. No two sources give the same age.

But some experts in retirement planning believe that many feds with memories of the Great Recession of 2008-2009 are working longer than they have to. So are you one of them?

Although there is no mandatory retirement age for most federal jobs many people — law enforcement officers, air traffic controllers, firefighters and others — do have to leave by a certain time. Retiring under the Federal Employees Retirement System is more complex because of the reduced federal annuity — compared to Civil Service Retirement System — Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan. The long-predicted retirement tsunami still hasn’t happened.

Last week we asked readers who are still working why they are hanging on? Is it dedication to the job, fear of boredom on the shuffleboard court, spousal issues or financial fears? There are a lot of different reasons, including this one from Tom, a 67-year-old, 30-year Interior Department employee. He explained why he’s sticking with Uncle Sam.


“You ask why civil servants like me are not retiring. I suppose every situation is a little different.

“I am 67, and I have 30-plus years in federal service. I have a TSP account greater than $1.2 million — until the next downturn — why am I not retiring? I got a late start after five years of graduate school, and six years of postdoctoral appointments, none of which contributed anything to retirement. But primarily, I am not convinced that my family’s financial security is necessarily assured since there are so many unknowns, like how long the recovery will take after the next recession, health-related medical expenses, financial needs of our adult children, changes to [FERS] and to Social Security that result in a reduction in benefits over the long term; adverse changes in state or federal tax laws, whether health insurance costs will continue to increase faster than the rate of inflation and retirement [cost of living adjustments].

“I opted out of life insurance years ago when rates shot up because of age and consider myself ‘self-insured’ based on my TSP and other investments, including our home that is fully paid off. I have also ‘opted out’ of long-term care insurance, again relying on savings. But this ‘self-insured’ status only works if my assets are sufficient, and I don’t know that they are. So, I continue to work, hopefully until Social Security reaches the maximum benefit at age 70.

“My one-time financial adviser asked me what my financial goal or plan was and I responded that, given the uncertainty my plan was to save as much as I could for as long as I could, and hope that I didn’t outlive my assets.”

We also asked retirement expert Tammy Flanagan to consider why so many people are delaying retirement. Her answer will air Wednesday when she is a guest on our Your Turn radio show. Listen on or at 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. area at 10 a.m. EST.

Listen live or catch the archived version on our website. If you have any questions for Tammy email them to me before showtime at

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

In the opening sequence of “The Matrix,” the iconic streams of green Japanese code are actually recipes for sushi. Production designer Simon Whitely, now with the animation and visual effects studio Animal Logic in Australia, said he got the idea from one of his wife’s cookbooks.

Source: CNET