Those planning their retirement and annuitants require accessible resources for answers to their individual and unique questions. OPM does a good job managing our retirement system overall. However, there are limits to what they can and will provide. It’s often frustrating and difficult finding competent help and the level of assistance required. There are many variables to what initially might seem like an obvious resolution; it makes sense to seek out clarifications.
Retirement planning is of and in itself a complicated process with many interrelated avenues to explore. There is a broad array of assistance available; what service you require depends on the complexity of the issues and the level of assistance you personally need.
Levels of assistance:
- General Guidance
- Detailed Guidance
- Counseling / Assistance
OPM – The Office of Personnel Management is the HR department for the federal government and they administer the retirement benefits program. Active federal employees must contact their agency’s HR office for retirement forms processing and guidance. OPM services the retirement community directly; If you are an annuitant (retiree), use their online services portal. Annuitants can obtain immediate summaries of their current benefits, documents, and payment summary online if registered for their service.
- Website: https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/ 
- Annuitant’s Online Services: https://www.servicesonline.opm.gov/ 
Federal Employee’s Retirement Planning Guide
This site offers abundant information and compiles federal employee’s retirement benefit information from a multitude of federal agencies: OPM, Social Security, Medicare, TSP, the Department of Labor and others. This site is easy to search and provides explanations, examples, and suggestions that you won’t find elsewhere. The related blog and weekly email newsletter offers guidance on current topics of interest.
- Website: https://www.federalretirement.net/ 
- Blog Article Index: https://www.federalretirement.net/article-Index.htm 
Federal Retirement Report – A 27-page Personal Retirement Report Summary
RP & A Financial Strategies develops personalized 27-page written Federal Retirement Reports™ customized to your specific situation and includes a summary of all benefits, TSP investments, and annuity estimates with projections. This service costs $179 and includes a one-hour, one-on-one, session with their federal retirement specialist to review your report and answer any questions you may have. A moneyback guarantee is offered if you aren’t completely satisfied with their services. They also offer a one-hour personal consultation with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) at no additional cost if desired. This service has been available for over five years and it can help federal employees prepare for retirement.
- Assistance Page: https://www.federalretirement.net/assistance.htm 
- Click HERE  to view a Sample Report
Seminars – Federal Employee Benefits Advocates (FEBA)
Contact this group to conduct targeted retirement planning briefing at your location. They cover CSRS and FERS employees, (including Special provisions) and may be offered in Full or Half-day sessions. The information is generally divided into seven key areas: CSRS or FERS retirement annuity, Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Voluntary Contribution Plan (VCP) – CSRS and CSRS Offsets only, Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), Social Security, Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB), Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and disability programs. These seminars were recommended to me several years ago by a senior HR federal government specialist. She was impressed with the seminars conducted at her location.
COUNSELING / ASSISTANCE
Often, individuals need to talk with an expert to address complex issues and make informed decisions about what is best for their situation. It is difficult finding anyone to call or email that you can trust and get the information you need. Here is a list of those you can contact to help you address your concerns when the research you’ve done hasn’t provided an answer.
OPM (Call or Email) – I can see eyes rolling while you read this. Yes, it is difficult getting through to them by phone and it may take weeks to get a reply by email, but they can help. Plus, they are the only ones who can make needed changes or updates.
- Phone Number: 1-888-767-6738, TTY: 855-887-4957 weekdays only.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 
Note: To get through faster, I dial their number, 888-767-6738; if it’s busy, I hang up and immediately click redial. I typically get through in several minutes using this technique. Expect long waits.
Columnists – Many columnists, like myself, reply to email questions. Generally, I’ll send a reply with links to relevant sections of my website and to OPM guidance that will help. When I’m asked to provide one-on-one counselling or answer a complex issue that I don’t have time to address, I refer them to the professional counselors listed below under Retirement Planning Consultants.
Retirement Planning Consultants – A professional federal benefits consultant can address your concerns and answer any questions that you may have. If they don’t have the immediate answer, they have the resources to obtain them.
Retirement Planning Consultant – All Areas
Tammy Flanagan is a former federal employee, a federal benefits specialist, and consultant. Since 2006, Tammy has authored the popular weekly “Retirement Planning” column for Government Executive online magazine. She and her staff offer reasonable fee-for-service personal consulting for civilian federal employees and annuitants. They can address your concerns, answers questions, recommend options, provide details as to why one path is preferred over another, and put your mind at ease.
- Website: Tammy Flanagan’s Consulting Services 
Consultant – Divorce Related Issues
Ann Ozuna is a retired Personnel Management Specialist. She founded Personnel Solutions Federal Benefits Counseling upon retirement from federal service in 1996. In addition to her 25-year federal personnel career, she holds an MBA from Gonzaga University and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant (ChFEBC) designations. She provides consulting services for federal employees facing divorce and attorneys working with federal employee clients. Call for a free initial consultation and tell her your heard about her services on www.federalretirement.net .
- Divorce Considerations 
- Contact: (509) 993-2283
If you need answers to retirement questions or don’t know what options are best for you and your family, use the resources listed above or other reputable services to get you back on track.
Helpful Retirement Planning Tools
- 2020 GS Pay Scales 
- Retirement Planning For Federal Employees & Annuitant 
- Budget Work Sheet 
- Medicare Guide 
- Social Security Guide 
- Master Retiree Contact List  (Important contact numbers and information)
- 2020 Leave and Schedule Chart  (Use this chart to set target retirement dates.)
- Annuity Calculator (FREE Excel chart estimates annuity growth)
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.
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