DoD civilian retirement: Are you ready? Published April 22, 2022 By L. Cunningham 55th Wing Public Affairs OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- As federal employees work alongside active duty members to maintain the mission, they eventually reach an age when they are eligible to retire. According to https://installations.militaryonesource.mil, Offutt has 2,376 Department of Defense civilians and 1,585 other civilians. Understanding benefits is vital in making informed decisions. It’s important to make sure an employee is physically, mentally, and financially ready to retire. There are resources and tools on the Office of Personnel Management’s website which give potential retirees information on the three components of financial retirement planning - government pension, Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan. Each of these benefits can begin at different ages. Offutt’s civilian retirement program is operated by the Benefits and Entitlements Service Team. BEST is responsible for providing customer service and current benefits information for Air Force civilian employees in multiple areas. BEST’s civilian retirement section can be reached at 1-800-525-0102. Select option two, then option two again to speak to a customer service representative. BEST’s customer service section recommends those planning to retire know how many years of service they have, how many years creditable service for civilians, and their minimum age and minimum years requirements. Those retiring at the minimum years and minimum age may face a penalty. In 2021 there were delays in processing time due to the amount of retirement claims submitted. The earliest people can submit for retirement is six months before the requested retirement date and the latest to submit is 60 days before. If there are no errors in the retirement application, it may be done within 30 days. BEST suggests keeping a copy of all documents submitted. While their office can assist with general questions regarding the retirement process, they will submit the caller to speak with a counselor if a person requires help with the entire application. A BEST representative clarified that regular leave will be paid out directly to the employee and sick leave is added to your credited time in service in increments of one month. She recommended that employees have a few pay periods in savings in case the first retirement payment is late due to processing delays. Be aware that federal taxes will automatically be taken out of retirement pay and state taxes will depend on the state of residence of retirement. BEST recommends using the Government Retirement and Benefits Platform because the retirement dashboard is tailored to the employee’s employment profile. The site has a lot of information and employees can also submit requests for detailed estimates of what their anticipated annuity would be and deductions for premiums. The GRB Platform https://grbplatform.us.af.mil/ provides the tools necessary for adjusting benefits and other information. It is integrated with personnel and the payroll system, online benefit enrollments and changes, and online retirement applications. There is also information on health and life insurance, Thrift Savings Plan, retirement, social security, long term care insurance, flexible spending accounts and workers compensation. The GRB Platform can also estimate the approximate Federal Employees Retirement System retirement salary that can be included in preparing for the future. There are other things to contemplate and plan for, such as deciding about life and medical insurance and when to collect social security. An additional resource is a retirement counseling and training site by Tammy Flanagan. Flanagan has spent 30 years helping federal employees understand their benefits. The site located at https://www.govexec.com/voices/tammy-flanagan/2340/ has answers to many questions and can point those preparing to retire in the right direction.