Pre-Retirement Checklist: What To Do Within 6 Months

By: Mercedes Johnson, Federal Benefits Specialist

Published: July, 2022


I know you are excited!  You are retiring in a few months and can’t wait to begin the second phase of your life called Retirement.  It is very important that you review your retirement plan and benefits in between your upcoming retirement festivities.  How, you ask? Well, below you will find an easy retirement checklist to follow within 6 months of retirement so that you are well prepared and ready for retirement:


Choose your exact retirement date.

Hopefully, you will have already decided on a firm retirement date but just in case, the effective date of a voluntary retirement should be at the close of business on your last day of work. CSRS employees may retire within the last day of the month or the first 3 days of a month and be eligible for an annuity beginning the next day. FERS employees do not have that flexibility, as FERS annuities begin on the first day of the month following the retirement date. Therefore, FERS employees should retire at the end of the month since their annuities commence the first day of the month following the retirement date.


Obtain a final retirement estimate and review your service history.

Yes, I am sure you have seen your retirement estimate before this point, but I advise employees to complete a final review of their retirement estimate before they retire.  Remember, at this point, you have a final date of retirement which means that your actual high-3 average salary and years of service are set in stone.  Also, verify that the correct sick leave balances have been used in the computation (including future sick leave accruals).  Any sick leave to your credit at separation is converted into time and will be used to increase the computation of your retirement benefit, so it is imperative that you ensure the information is correct.

In addition, verify that your service history is correctly reflected on the estimate.  Are all Federal agencies you worked for listed and are the dates of service correct?  Not to worry, if you cannot remember your dates of service, you can review your electronic Official Personnel Folder (eOPF) to obtain your service history for military and civilian service.  If you find that your estimates do not reflect all your service or the information is incorrect, please reach out to the applicable agency Retirement Office for clarification and/or a modification.


Do you have deposit and/or redeposit service?

Hopefully, you have already determined if you have civilian or military service for which you must pay retirement contributions or repay a refund of contributions for civilian service only.  If you find that you need to make a deposit or redeposit, please run, do not walk to your agency Retirement Office for assistance.   Your Retirement Office should tell you about what impact payment or non-payment has on your eligibility and the amount of your retirement benefit.  Your Retirement Office can assist you in making such deposits and/or redeposits.  Remember all military deposits must be made to the agency before you separate from service.  There are no exceptions to this rule.


Verify your eligibility to continue Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) health insurance and Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) coverage into retirement.

If you are enrolled in the FEHB program, you should verify eligibility to continue FEHB coverage into retirement.  You must retain FEHB coverage through at least the last five years of Federal employment ending on the day of retirement to retain FEHB coverage throughout retirement. The Federal government will continue paying its same share of the FEHB premiums for you as a retiree as it did for you as an employee. Enrollment in Tricare (the health insurance program for members of the Uniformed Services) is also counted for purposes of fulfilling the “five-year” requirement.

To keep FEGLI coverage for retirement you must have been enrolled in FEGLI during the five years ending on the day you retire. Please note that the cost of FEGLI into retirement is more expensive and the coverage levels change depending on the decisions you make at retirement. Now is the time for you to determine exactly how much life insurance you will need after retirement.  Make sure to ask your HR Retirement Specialist how the premiums might increase as you grow older in retirement.  You do not want any surprises down the road.  Remember, you can reduce or eliminate FEGLI coverage at any time by filling out and submitting Form SF 2817.


If you are married, decide on a survivor annuity election.

Take time to review the survivor annuity options, the cost, eligibility requirements, and the necessity for your spouse to consent if you do not provide the full (maximum) survivor benefits for him or her.  Very Important – Your spouse will not be able to continue their enrollment in FEHB program after your death unless you elect to provide a survivor annuity for them before retirement.  This survivor annuity election is made on the retirement application.


Waive Retired Military Pay, if applicable.

If you are a military retiree who wants to waive your military retired pay, you should notify the Retired Pay Operations Center from your branch of service in writing at least 90 days, but no later than 60 days, before your planned retirement date. Remember to include a copy of your waiver letter with your application packet for retirement.


Notify Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) and/or Federal Employee Dental Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) of your upcoming retirement date.

If you are covered by Federal Long Term Care Insurance or Dental and/or Vision Insurance and have premiums deducted from your salary, call BENEFEDS now at 1-877-888-FEDS (1-877-888-3337), to advise them of your retirement date and to make alternative arrangements for paying your premiums, such as direct billing or deduction from your bank account. The Long Term Care and Dental and Vision premium deductions do not immediately transfer to the retirement system, and are not deducted from interim annuity payments; therefore, you must pay these premiums promptly to avoid loss of coverage.  Not to worry, after your annuity goes through final adjudication and you are no longer in interim status, your FLTCIP and FEDVIP premiums will be deducted from your monthly OPM annuity.


Your participation in the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS) the year you retire.

You will need to be strategic concerning your participation in the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS) in the year you retire.  The balances in your Health Care FSA (HCFSA), Limited Expense Health Care FSA (LEX HCFSA) and Dependent Care FSA (DCFSA) are treated differently if you separate or retire before the end of the calendar year.

Your HCFSA or LEX HCFSA will terminate as of the date of your separation or retirement. There are no extensions. Any eligible health care expenses incurred prior to the date of separation will still be reimbursed but those incurred after the separation date are not reimbursable, even if you accelerated your allotments. If you used your entire elected amount before FSAFEDS has deducted it from your pay, you will not be responsible for the remaining allotments.

Your DCFSA remaining balance can continue to be used to pay for eligible dependent care expenses until your account balance is depleted or the end of the calendar year, whichever comes first.


Find out how Federal and state taxes with impact your future Federal retirement annuity.

Sometimes I find that soon-to-be retirees are surprised to find out that most of their Federal retirement pension annuity is subject to Federal and in many states, state and local income taxes. I encourage employees to discuss the taxation of their annuity with their accountant or tax professional to discuss the impact of taxes on their Federal pension annuity.  Retirees will have an opportunity to change the tax withholdings from their annuity for Federal and state tax purposes before and after retirement.


Review your beneficiary forms.

Check your designation of beneficiary forms on file to ensure that they reflect your wishes when you pass away.

Beneficiary Forms:

  • Form SF 1152, Designation of Beneficiary for Unpaid Compensation and Unused Annual Leave of a Deceased Federal Employee.
  • Form SF 2823, Designation of Beneficiary of Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI).
  • Form TSP 3, Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Beneficiary Designation.
  • Form SF 2808 – CSRS and CSRS-Offset employees: Designation of Beneficiary of CSRS Contributions, or Form SF 3102 – FERS employees: Designation of Beneficiary of FERS Contributions.

If you do not have a beneficiary form on file, make sure that the normal order of precedence for payments will meet your needs.

The Order of Precedence:

If there isn’t a valid designation on file when you die, benefits are payable in this order:

First: to your widow or widower

Second: if none, to your child or children in equal shares, with the share of any deceased child distributed among that child’s descendants

Third: if none, to your parents in equal shares or the entire amount to your surviving parent

Fourth: if none, to the executor or administrator of your estate

Fifth: if none, to your next of kin under the laws of the state where you lived at the time of your death.


You need to obtain all the necessary forms from your agency Retirement Office and complete them.

The forms needed for CSRS retirements are:

  • SF-2801, CSRS Application for Immediate Retirement
  • W4P, Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments, for Federal tax withholding
  • SF-2818, Continuation of Life Insurance Coverage
  • A copy of your marriage certificate if you are married


The forms needed for FERS retirements are:

  • SF-3107, FERS Application for Immediate Retirement
  • SF-3113, Applying for Immediate Retirement under FERS, which provides information and instructions to the retiring FERS employee
  • W4P, Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments, for Federal tax withholding
  • SF-2818, Continuation of Life Insurance Coverage
  • A copy of your marriage certificate if you are married

Failure to complete any form or item of information that may be required in your case your Human Resources or OPM to delay the final processing of your application for retirement.


Withdrawal options for your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account.

Your agency should provide you with a TSP withdrawal package at retirement.  The package will contain information and forms regarding your withdrawal options for your TSP account.  The Thrift Savings Plan Service Office is your primary contact regarding your TSP account after you leave service:

TSP Service Office National Finance Center

P.O. Box 61500

New Orleans, LA 70161-1500


The TSP Service Office can answer questions about your account and can send you TSP withdrawal materials to supplement the Withdrawal Package provided to you by your agency or service when you separated.  Submit your withdrawal forms directly to the TSP Service Office. To reach the Service Office, call the TSP ThriftLine at 1-TSP-YOU-FRST (1-877-968-3778) or the TDD at 1-TSP-THRIFT5 (1-877-847-4385).


Do you have an outstanding TSP loan?

If you leave service with an outstanding TSP loan, you must repay the loan in full, including interest. If you have not made that payment within 90 days, a “taxable distribution” of the unpaid loan amount that would be taxable on withdrawal will be declared, potentially subjecting you to significant tax penalties.  Therefore, it’s best to pay your loan off before retirement age. If you would like to retire before your loan is knocked out, you can make additional payments by sending a check in the mail along with a loan payment coupon.



Pay off any debts owed to your agency.

Maybe you have a travel overpayment that needs to be paid back to the agency.  Now is not the time to owe money to your agency.  Clear up any indebtedness to your agency so that your retirement process is not interrupted.


Final thoughts.

Keep a copy of all the retirement paperwork that you submit to your Retirement Office.  Also, keep a copy of your electronic Official Personnel Folder (eOPF).  It is easy to do.  Simply download the eOPF to PDF format.  Lastly, keep a copy of your last Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).  I advise employees to create their own retirement folder at home (soft or hard copy).  OPM will periodically send you information pertaining to your retirement and benefits, and you should place this information and any future updates in this folder.


Now you are ready for this new chapter in your life.  Enjoy yourself, you deserve it!


Ms. Johnson has been involved in Federal benefits for over 30 years. As a Benefits Officer, she researched, analyzed, and interpreted new and changing guidelines, legislation, and regulations regarding Federal benefits and retirement programs. She has extensive knowledge and expertise of the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) and Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Ms. Johnson is a presenter for NITP.


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