Posted on Thursday, 21st April 2011 by

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Richard retired last December and he is still receiving only partial monthly annuity payments. Unfortunately, he is only receiving 38% of his estimated annuity payment, too little to pay for daily expenses without digging into his savings. Retirement processing can take six months or more and for those planning on retiring soon be prepared for extended delays and potential problems with your claim. In Richard’s case he called OPM and discovered that his account was entered incorrectly in “Court Ordered” status even though his ex-spouse waived her rights to his government retirement. That is why his partial payment was so low.

When I retired in 2005 my estimated check was 70% of what I eventually received. Read the time line I published online titled “What to expect the first three months after you leave” to understand what you can expect while your claim is being processed. Be aware that processing of your claim may take longer today.

If you need to contact OPM about your retirement payments before you receive your claim number, first contact your former payroll office to find the date your records were transferred to OPM. Your payroll office should provide you with the number and date of the Register of Separations and Transfers. You will also need your Payroll Identification Number. This OPM FAQ can also answer many of your questions. Call OPM at 888-767-6738 if you have issues with your retirement processing and are experiencing delays. OPM is reporting an average processing time as of February 2011 of 19 weeks if there are no problems with your application.

Ordering Flags and Presidential Letters (Retiree Gift Options)

Flags make great gifts for retirees.  You can order flags that have flown over the Capitol Building in Washington DC and certified by the Architect of the capital for as little as $13.25. Generally flags are paid for with donations from the unit and they can also be displayed in attractive engraved flag cases available from Just Write Engraving. They also sell custom mugs with federal agency logos and dates of service. Flag folding instructions demonstrate how to fold the American Flag for proper display and to fit easily in the case.

Administrative personnel may request a letter from the White House for a civilian employee retiring with 30 years or more of Federal service (this encompasses those who have combined military and civilian service as well as those with straight civilian service.)  Both the flag and letter make excellent retiree gifts that will be cherished for a life time.


  • Suggestions Requested – We would like to hear from our site visitors and newsletter subscribers to find out what current federal employees and retirees wished they knew earlier in their careers about benefits, retirement, and the hiring process and what you wish to have more information about now.  We will use this information for future articles and to add content to our retirement planning site.  Use our online comment form to submit any input that you would like to contribute.
  • Travel – Nancy Holston’s travel article Vacation Plans and Rising Gas Prices was published last week. Discover how she evaluated her travel plans and modified them to reduce travel costs this year. She also provides links to cost saving airfare alerts and travel package deals that may save you money too.
  • Interesting Activity – I receive a catalog from The Great Courses that offer unique and interesting home study courses. The courses come in either CD (audio), DVD or download to your desktop computer. Subjects vary from history to fine arts and music, literature, science and mathematics, to better living, philosophy, religion, business and economics. There is a course for wine lovers titled The Everyday Guide to Wine by master of wine Jennifer Simonette-Bryan. History buffs will find 10 courses covering ancient Rome, the Vikings, the American Civil War and everything in between. There are 20 or more lectures and NO TESTS. They have tremendous discounts right now (up to 70% off) for many courses. For example the Wine course is typically $245.95; right now it is only $39.95. Use my catalog’s Priority code (52470) to receive the same discount prices I mention here. You can call them to receive a catalog at 1-800-832-2412.  I’ve not personally taken a course yet. However, when I get time I would like sign up for one of the history courses.
  • Retirement Planning Calculators (Options)


  1. OPM recently launched Version 2.0 of the “Federal Ballpark Estimator.” The Federal Ballpark Estimate is a retirement savings planning tool for annuity projections and TSP analysis. It is not an annuity estimate. This program covers (CSRS), CSRS-Offset, or (FERS) employees who plan to retire under the voluntary age and service rules. The current version does not perform estimates for retirement under the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) + 10 rules, or those who are covered by special computation rules such as law enforcement officers and firefighters, or former Federal employees who may be entitled to a deferred retirement.
  2. Decision Support Software offers free software to estimate your annuity and benefits. Their free software includes a comprehensive set of tools for estimating and analyzing federal employee’s annuities, benefits, Thrift Savings Plan, social security, FERS & CSRS sick leave conversion, military credits and more. You can generate numerous reports to help you make informed decisions about your unique situation.
  3. Assistance is also available. You can request a FREE Annuity Review and Personal Summary of Benefit’s. This analysis, view sample analysis, uses the professional version of the free software mentioned here.
  • I completed my 25th book this spring, the 11th edition of The Book of U.S. Government Jobs, and need of a break! This edition is the first to feature the new HIRING REFORM initiatives ordered by President Obama and I take readers step-by-step through these changes, presenting an insider’s view of what it takes to go from job hunter to hired employee — and everything in between — to improve their chances of landing a government job. The book details what it takes to be rated “Best Qualified” under the new “Category Rating” system. This book took over a year to write due to the many changes in the recruitment process and it includes a comprehensive federal resume writing guide.

Learn more about your benefitsemployment, travel, and financial planning issues on our site and visit our Blog frequently at to read all forum articles.

Request a Retirement Benefits Summary Analysis and receive a personal retirement analysis. A sample analysis is available for your review. This service is provided by independent agents that are not affiliated with or Bookhaven Press LLC.

Visit our other informative sites

The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and financial information is subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact your benefits coordinator and ask them to review your official personnel file and circumstances concerning this issue. Retirees can contact the OPM retirement center. Our articles are not intended nor should they be considered investment advice. Our reply is time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.

Last 5 posts by Dennis Damp


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