Sudden retirement


Q. My mother is 66 and a letter carrier with 32 years of employment with the Postal Service. She loves her job, but as cuts are made and demands are harsher, she was wondering what would happen if she were to go to work one day and decide she wants to retire immediately. She wants to be sure that she could still get her accrued annual in a lump-sum payment. She als wants to know how long would it take for her to start receiving benefits?

A. Your mother is already eligible to retire and could do so on a moment’s notice. However, it would be a good idea for her to begin the process now by completing Standard Form 2801, Application for Immediate Retirement, available at Once that’s done, she should take it to her servicing personnel office so they can determine if everything is in order. She doesn’t need to include her anticipated date of retirement if she doesn’t want to. However, as a courtesy to her supervisor, she should let him or her know well enough in advance. That way plans can be made to reassign the work she performs in advance of her departure.

When she retires, she will receive a lump-sum payment for all her unused annual leave. The responsibility for making this payment lies with her servicing payroll office.

No one can say with any certainty how long it will take for her to receive her first annuity payment. If her agency is efficient, it will get her paperwork to OPM within 30 days; if not, it will take longer. If no red flags go up when OPM reviews it, she’ll be put in interim pay status. Interim pay will be a percentage of what her final annuity will be. When her retirement is finally adjudicated, she’ll receive her first full annuity payment, which will include any back pay she is due. Note: Although OPM has been able to clear much of its backlog, it could still take weeks before she sees her first interim payment.


About Author

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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