Are you ready for retirement?

Several factors play into a decision about whether to retire or keep on working — and now the economy is one of them

Happiness in your current job is a big factor in deciding when to retire. Changes at the office can also be a factor that leads to retirement. But there are other factors, and the most important might be financial.

Will your retirement benefits and savings be enough? Do you know where your income will come from the week after you retire and all the weeks after that? Will you need a part-time job?

According to the Families and Work Institute, the majority of older workers want to keep some job responsibilities. They are more likely to continue working rather than retire if they can have more control over their work hours, workplace flexibility, job autonomy and learning opportunities. In today’s economy, continuing to work might be the wiser choice.

But even if you are leaving because you hate your job, your organization and managers treat you with no respect, or the technology systems are a joke, there are still right and wrong ways to retire.

The right way to retire is to tell your supervisor or immediate manager first rather than having them hear it from someone else. Still, there are always some who are gleefully counting the days and posting crossed-off calendars on cubicle walls.

The Office of Personnel Management advises choosing your retirement date, telling your boss and human resources office, and submitting the forms two months before you leave.

Next, do what you can to help ease the transition. Offer ideas on who can take over your projects. If your organization hadn’t planned for succession, make a list of everything you do and make sure to include any outstanding critical due dates to help the process.

Through your last day of work, try not to mentally check out or show disrespect for your office or the job you’ve held. Most importantly, say goodbye to everyone, whether you got along with them or not. This is your chance for closure. You don’t know what will happen in the future, or whom you will meet again, coming around the corner.

Finally, keep in mind that a completed and signed retirement application is equivalent to a letter of resignation. According to OPM’s guidance (http://www.opm.gov/retire), you should not resign first, intending to submit a retirement application later. If something should happen before the application is submitted, you would not receive any benefits.

Don’t overlook the option of keeping your money in the Thrift Savings Plan. But if you want to withdraw it, check out the TSP options. A withdrawal might take as long as eight weeks to process, and an unpaid TSP loan can delay disbursement.

About the Author

Judith Welles is a retired federal employee who has also worked in the private sector. She lives in Bethesda, Md.

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