The Office of Personnel Management recently issued guidance to agencies on how to submit “healthy” retirement packages for prospective retirees. You can keep an eye out to ensure your agency is correctly carrying out its part, which includes:
- The retirement application — SF 2801 for Civil Service Retirement System employees and SF 3107 for Federal Employees Retirement System workers — must be submitted, with all questions answered, all applicable boxes checked and all areas requiring initials initialed.
Problem areas have been: failure to indicate a survivor election; failure to include a signed and dated spousal consent form if you are married and electing less than a full survivor annuity; and, if you are divorced, failure to answer the court order question.
Note: A spouse’s consent to a less-than-full survivor annuity must be submitted on an original SF 2801-2 (CSRS) or SF 3107-2 (FERS), signed in ink, and the date the spouse signs must match the date on which the notary signs.
- The certified summary of service must indicate all periods of creditable civilian and military service; deposits or redeposits to the retirement that have been paid in full; part-time tours of duty or hours worked; and excess leave without pay.
- In addition to those forms, which need to be in every retirement package, there are three that might apply in a specific case. If you are facing involuntary retirement, the package must include a copy of the written notice that says you’ll be separated on a specific date and a properly completed OPM 1510 that establishes your eligibility for discontinued service retirement. If you are a special category employee — law enforcement officer, firefighter, air traffic controller, nuclear material carrier and, in some cases, Customs and Border Protection officer — the package must include a certification letter from your agency that you are eligible for retirement. If you are retiring under the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, OPM’s authority number must be included.
- Evidence of eligibility to continue health benefits must be included. According to OPM, the most common error in retirement packages is failure to document the required five years of coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (or coverage from the first opportunity to enroll). If OPM doesn’t have proof of your eligibility to continue coverage, your application can be hung up until the matter is resolved.
Acceptable proof includes an SF 2809; SF 2810, if your coverage is being transferred from your previous agency to a new one; or a signed memo from your agency detailing your continuous coverage and showing payroll deductions.
If you have fewer than five years of coverage and are eligible for an automatic waiver because you are retiring under Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, your agency’s certification must be included.
- Evidence of eligibility to continue life insurance must be included. The same five-year requirement (or first opportunity to enroll) applies to the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program. Your package must contain an SF 2817 or SF 716, which show that you have elected FEGLI coverage. In a pinch, payroll records can be submitted showing that deductions have been taken from your pay for the required time. Also needed is an SF 2821, in which your agency certifies that you have coverage.
- If you served in the active-duty military, it must be documented with a DD 214. If you don’t have one, OPM will accept a document verifying your service, including one from the National Personnel Records Center, which notes such things as the dates of attendance at a military academy, active-duty service and honorable discharge.
- OPM expects your agency to provide SF 2806 or SF 3100, which contains your service and fiscal history, from the date a personnel action was taken and what it was to your base pay at the time, the calendar year amount of retirement deductions taken from your pay and the cumulative amount over your career.
The goal is to assure that OPM receives a healthy retirement package, one that can get you on the annuity roll as soon as possible.