The Department of Defense is reminding civilian employees to learn well in advance about how to maximize their retirement—and that consulting one of many informational aids and tools on its websites is a great place to start.
If you are among the nearly one million Department of Defense civilian employees, it’s important to you and your family that you stay on top of the retirement options that will be open to you when you wind down your career.
This week, DOD’s retirement experts issued a reminder to its Army and other civilian employees to consult their many useful resources on this issue—and not wait until the last minute, or even last years of employment—to check in on how the system works.
“Much like their military counterparts, Department of Defense civilian employees earn retirement benefits as they serve their country,” DOD stated. “Figuring out when to retire—and how much retirement income can be expected—is made easier via the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center.”
One of the best places to start is CPAC’s CAC-enabled Government Retirement and Benefits (GRB) webpage, which is located on the Army Benefits Center-Civilian website.
Tina Utt, who directs Fort Leonard Wood’s CPAC and advises on civilian retirement, summarizes that the website offers tools that can “help take some of the guesswork out of the transition to retirement.”
“That is the platform the Army uses for civilians to input their retirement paperwork into the system,” she said. “This site provides all kinds of information, to include when you are eligible to retire and an estimate on what your pay may be.”
In short “[the] ABC-C website has a wealth of information to inform you about what kinds of decisions you will need to make,” she said.
Indeed, she says the biggest “regret” most civilian DOD employees express is “not starting the retirement process sooner.”
“ABC-C site features regular pre-retirement benefits overview briefings held virtually,” Utt says. You just go to the site and check out as much or as little as you want—and there is no registration needed.
To qualify for Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), you generally need five years of civilian federal employment under your belt to qualify—except in cases of disability.
As you near your preferred retirement date, Utt offers the generally accepted advice to submit your retirement application packet at least 120 days prior—and to have set aside “at least” six months of pay in savings, to cover your expenses while your retirement is processed by the Office of Personnel Management.