Regardless of whether you are CSRS, CSRS Offset, FERS Transferee, FERS, or FERS-RAE

Make sure you know what your Retirement Service Computation Date (SCD) is.  If you don’t know what an SCD is, take a retirement planning course OR speak with your agency retirement officer.  Understand that there are situations where your Retirement SCD might be different from your Leave SCD.

If you have any complicated Federal service history (i.e. changes in work schedule, change in retirement system, breaks in Federal service, worked for multiple Federal agencies, prior military service, deposits/redeposits paid in full, etc.), it’s not a bad idea to obtain a Summary of Federal Service document from your agency now.  This will let you know that your current agency has all of your Federal service documented properly.  The information on this document can also assist you with estimating your retirement benefits.

If there’s something missing or if there is an error, you want to identify and correct these sorts of issues years before you try to separate for retirement.  But if you don’t request a Summary of Federal Service from your agency now, you won’t see this document until you get ready to retire.  Do you really want to wait until retirement to find out your agency didn’t do a good job of maintaining your Federal service history?  Your current agency is responsible for ensuring that all of your Federal service (including prior Federal service) is documented properly so OPM can adjudicate your retirement efficiently.

If more folks would request and review their Summary of Federal Service now, there would be less issues for OPM to deal with and more folks would get their retirement pay on time.  One of the primary reasons why some folks are waiting longer than others in retirement is because the retirement application package (including service history) that the agency forwarded to OPM is incomplete.


If you go through a divorce and your divorce decree does NOT state that your former spouse is entitled to any Federal benefits, then there is no need to file anything with OPM.  However, if your divorce decree states that your former spouse IS entitled to a piece of your future Federal pension and/or survivor benefit, then you need to file that divorce decree with OPM at the time of your divorce.  Otherwise, you can guarantee that your annuity will be delayed and in this case, it’s possible that you might not even receive any interim retirement pay until OPM approves your divorce decree.

OPM establishes the procedures for lawyers to follow when preparing divorce decrees that entitle a former spouse to Federal benefits, and OPM can reject the decree and delay the processing of benefits if it’s not written properly.  When you go through a divorce that will be providing your former spouse with future Federal benefits from OPM, you need to file that divorce decree with OPM at that time even if you don’t plan to retire for many years.  OPM will then send you a notification stating whether they have accepted it or not.

5 years before you separate for retirement:

Start communicating with your agency retirement office (if you haven’t already done so for reasons mentioned earlier) and request estimates for the date (or various dates) that you intend to retire.  Take a “preparing for retirement” class to double-check your situation and pick up any tips or changes to the various laws that govern your Federal benefits that you want to be aware of.  Are you on target with your retirement goals?

Also, be aware of the eligibility requirements for keeping FEHB and/or FEGLI in retirement.  Most Federal employees are required to maintain FEHB and/or FEGLI coverage for the last 5 years of their Federal careers if they intend to keep such coverage in retirement.

Continue to the 5th and final page of this article where I address the things you can begin to do 1 year before you separate from Federal service to avoid delays in the processing of your retirement.  I will also give you a list of items to mark on your calendar as you separate to ensure that you know what to expect in retirement.