Q. I am a FERS employee who will be retiring under early retirement rules for air traffic control. I will turn 55 in April 2014 and plan to retire Jan. 4, 2014. Everything I read says that if I retire in the year I turn 55, there will be no early withdrawal penalty for my Thrift Savings Plan. My human resources specialist says I must retire after I turn 55 — after my birthday in April. Which is correct?
I also understand the advantages of retiring close to the end of the month, ideally the last day. However, Jan. 4 works better for me. I understand that I basically won’t be getting any pay until the annuity begins Feb. 1. My HR specialist tells me that my benefits, health, life, dental, etc., will not be in effect from the time I leave service (Jan. 4) until my annuity begins (Feb. 1), so basically no benefits in the month of January. I haven’t read this anywhere. Is it true?
A. No, it isn’t. What your HR specialist failed to understand is that the premiums taken out of your last paycheck in December will cover you for the month of January. Even if that weren’t the case and you had simply resigned, you would still have a 31-day extension of coverage of your Federal Employees Health Benefits and Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance enrollment at no cost to yourself.