CSRS FERS Civil Service Retirement — Harder Than It Looks

Smoothing the Transition

Employees expect their well-earned retirement benefits will seamlessly appear upon the completion of a career of dedicated federal service. But sometimes the transition isn’t as smooth as they hope. Consider the following comment of a recent retiree:

I retired in January 2006 and have only received partial payment due to mistakes of the IRS. I have gone in debt, have lots of pain and suffering to try and get everything done. I even needed to withdraw partial payment of my Thrift [Savings Plan] and again due to an error of Thrift and IRS, it is delayed. I called and they say they are sorry but it will be another seven to 10 days. I think six months for a person to retire and not able to get all their benefits is sad. Also, if I owed the IRS, there would be penalty and compounded interest due them! … Read More of the Typical Retirees Story Here

Typical you say? Surely you jest. The Federal Government might have been somehow a little screwed up when dealing with the retiree in this article … I mean, after all, why would a writer for a nationally-know paper like Government Executive write about it if it wasn’t unusual .. didn’t you ever hear of the man bites dog versus dog bites man rule of editorial selection?

Well I can tell you from the heart, and from the bank account, this story is not all that atypical at all. I’m still paying off the last of the credit card bills due to cash advances I had to live on while the OPM and especially DFAS .. Defense Accounting and Finance Service (service, in this case, seems to only refer to what the bull does to the cow) did for me on my retirement.

I think we’ll keep this short today in the interest of getting something going along these lines … comments and guest editorials are hereby solicited … this is much more than a one post subject.

Suffice to say that all retirees had better watch out how they plan for the beginning of their retirement. Expect to go months with the wrong pay, even no pay, and to endure a lot of stress and perhaps even legal expense. Those retirees who are paying spousal maintenance (alimony), child support or even, worse yet, are in the middle of a divorce are particularly vulnerable. If you’re in one of those categories, discuss this in depth with your attorney, as well as your financial advisor, before you pull the pin. The Federal government is very liable to screw you, make no mistake about that.

I beeeive it was Napoleon who is credited with the phrase ” Never ascribe to malice what is adequately explained by ignorance”, the cause of the problem will give you little comfort when you are on the receiving … or perhaps I should say the non-receiving end of the OPM/DFAS golem.

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