The Federal Retirement Paper Chase

By: Maureen Wilkin, Federal Benefits Specialist

Published: July 18, 2019

If you are a soon-to-be-retired Federal employee, you should begin the retirement application “paper chase” about six months before the date you plan to retire. No need to panic. It actually requires less paperwork for you to leave Federal service than it did for you to enter!  You may be covered by either the CSRS or FERS retirement system, so you need to know which forms are appropriate for your specific coverage. Here is a summary list:

CSRS and CSRS Offset employees applying for retirement must complete:

FERS employees applying for retirement must complete:

ALL employees applying for retirement should complete:

  • Withholding Certificate for Pension or Annuity Payments (IRS form W4P)
    • For Federal tax withholding, at
    • State tax withholding cannot start until your annuity is finalized at OPM. You can then elect to begin withholding through OPM’s online services.

Employees eligible to carry FEGLI insurance into retirement must complete:

These forms make up the basic application for retirement that you will submit to your employing agency. If your individual situation requires an additional form related to something such as a voluntary contribution account or waiver of military retired pay, your agency will provide those to you as needed. Because most agencies have processing guidelines that dictate how far in advance you should submit your application, be certain you know what they are.

Once you have submitted your application, your employing agency will let you know the next steps in the retirement process. You’ll be on your way to Part Two of your life. Best of luck and happy trails!

Maureen Wilkin is a retired Federal employee who was a Benefits specialist for 38 years and was involved with Federal employee training for over 20 years.  Her last position was Benefits Officers for the Federal Trade Commission, where she provided advice and counsel to employees on all employee benefits programs. Maureen is a Federal Benefits Specialist at NITP.