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

Related Stories


Your Turn with Mike Causey


Learn about everything from pay, benefits and retirement, to buyouts, COLAs and pay freezes. Call the show live Wednesdays from 10-11 a.m. at 202-465-3080 with your questions. Dial 605-562-0264 to listen live from any phone. Follow Mike on Twitter and send him an email with your questions and comments. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Podcast One.

Sign up for breaking news alerts


Jun 24, 2021 Close Change YTD*
L Income 23.0026 0.0316 2.88%
L 2025 11.8599 0.0328 5.61%
L 2030 41.8412 0.1491 7.07%
L 2035 12.5665 0.0491 7.71%
L 2040 47.5573 0.2027 8.36%
L 2045 13.0309 0.0596 8.91%
L 2050 28.5512 0.1392 9.49%
L 2055 14.0307 0.0824 11.70%
L 2060 14.0307 0.0824 11.70%
L 2065 14.0306 0.0824 11.69%
G Fund 16.6113 0.0006 0.53%
F Fund 20.8319 0.0057 -2.22%
C Fund 63.9589 0.3752 12.61%
S Fund 85.8605 0.8891 11.60%
I Fund 38.9848 0.1591 10.58%
Closing price updated at approx 6pm ET each business day. More at
* YTD data is updated on the last day of the month.