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 (, 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.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group