Retiring: Pays to plan ahead...

Tuesday - 7/2/2013, 2:00am EDT

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


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

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.


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