Posted on Thursday, 21st June 2018 by

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There are a number of actions to take long before you retire to expedite retirement application processing. If you don’t correct certain errors prior to applying be financially prepared to live on a reduced interim annuity check for an extended period.

One of our site visitors recently discovered that her ten years of military service wasn’t included in her electronic Official Personnel File (eOPF). She applied for military credit at a previous federal agency early in her career and a copy of the paid-in-full letter was missing from her record. Without the 10 years of military service her annuity would be substantially reduced. There are actions you can take to recover this information if it is missing from your file.

Making a military deposit for time served isn’t difficult, however it does take time. You should start the process several years before your target retirement date, if possible, to give you time to pay it back through biweekly payroll deductions. You can pay the lump sum however it could be a significant amount depending on the number of years served and military pay grade. The military organization must recover your files and provide your estimated earnings for all service periods and it is a time consumer task. When I applied it took almost a year to get my estimate back and then several months more for payroll to accept the documentation and set up a payment schedule.

Another federal employee had a break in service and his leave and earnings statement (LES) didn’t reflect federal service at a previous agency. Over the past 10 years agencies have converted hard copy OPF files to electronic versions and documents may have been missed during the conversion. It’s a good practice for all federal employees to check their eOPF at least once to ensure the file is up to date and includes all previous federal service.

Check your LES for your Service Comp Date (SCD). Does it reflect all of your past federal service including part time work? If you filed the proper military credit paperwork you should find an entry in block 20 on your LES titled “MILBAL-DUE” and a dollar amount, mine showed a zero balance because I paid mine off long before I retired. Each agency’s payroll office may list this a little differently on their LES. If you applied for military credit and paid the amount off or are still making payments talk with your payroll office if you can’t find this entry on your statement.

Long before filing your retirement paperwork confirm that your SCD date on your LES is correct and that all prior federal service is included in your record. Active federal employees have the right to review their eOPF upon request. You should find a payment-in-full letter in the eOPF if you applied for military credit and paid the total amount due. If you paid it in a lump sum provide a copy of the paid-in-full letter to HR and have them add it to your eOPF. If your military deposit is paid-in-full by payroll deductions, you must request a Paid-in-Full Letter through your human resources office or Customer Service Representative (CSR) and have them add it to your eOPF.

All of my federal service, including my military time, was included on my original “Certified Summary of Federal Service” that I received from HR during the retirement application process. I didn’t have to make any changes and I signed the document and returned it for processing. If you find errors on your Certified Summary of Federal Service report during the retirement application process it can significantly delay processing until all of your service is listed. That is why it is essential to review your eOPF before applying for retirement.

Request your eOPF review soon to ensure all creditable service is included and take whatever actions are needed now to correct and update your official records. A few hours of review now can save you considerable grief during the retirement application process.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections.

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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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