Fast-track retirement


Q. I am eligible for an immediate retirement right now, and have been for some time. If I was to submit my forms now and give two weeks notice, would I lose anything? I assume that eventually the annuity would catch up — regular payments plus retroactive payments earned while the paperwork was in the works. However, I haven’t heard of anyone doing that — everyone seems to pick a date well in the future, long after the initial form submission.

A. While it is the most prudent way to assure a trouble-free transition to retirement, there isn’t any requirement that you set a retirement date in the distant future. As long as you have worked with your personnel office to dot all the “i’s” and crossed all the “t’s,” you are good to go. Among the things you’ll want to confirm is that you are eligible to retire, that you are getting credit for all your service, that your life or health insurance can be carried into retirement, that your designations of beneficiaries are up to date, and, where appropriate, that you have elected a survivor annuity.
Assuming that no last-minute surprises pop up that would derail your retirement, your retirement package will then follow the same course as it does for those who planned ahead. It will take your personnel office up to a month to process your paperwork and for your payroll office to close out your file, forward your retirement papers to OPM, and cut your final paycheck and lump-sum payment for any unused annual leave. OPM will then have at least 10 working days to send you the confirming paperwork, place you on the annuity roll, and put you in interim retired pay status. Another two weeks at least will be needed by OPM to complete the process. Treasury will send you your first interim payment on its own cycle. Eventually, any money that you should have been paid will catch up and be added to your first full annuity payment.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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