Tips On Submitting Paperwork


How to Submit a “Healthy” Federal Retirement Application Package

Edward A. Zurndorfer, Certified Financial Planner

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently provided guidance on submitting

“healthy” federal retirement application packages.


A “healthy” federal retirement package is defined as a complete and accurate package

that has been checked for missing, inaccurate and inconsistent information. This

column will discuss and describe the forms necessary to complete an accurate

retirement package. Some of these forms are filled out by the employee — these

include the retirement application forms (SF 2801 and SF 3107). Other forms are

prepared by the retiring employee’s agency — these include SF 2806, SF 3100 and

SF 2821,

Federal Retirement Application: Forms SF 2801 (CSRS) and SF 3107

(FERS)

The retirement application form must be a complete original form and signed

by the applicant in ink and dated. In addition to signatory requirements, all

questions must be answered, all applicable boxes must be checked, and all areas

requiring initials must be completed. Some common areas to check are:

• Survivor election in Section F of form SF 2801 or section D of form

3107 must be  indicated.  Regardless of whether the individual is

married or not, an election must be  selected.

• If a married applicant elects less than the full survivor annuity,

spousal consent must be  provided. The election on the application form

must agree with the spousal consent form.

• The Court Order question 2 in Section E of form SF 2801 or Section C

of form SF 3107  must be answered.

Spousal Consent Form SF 2801-2 and SF 3107-2

When a married applicant elects less than full survivor annuity benefits, a

spousal consent form must be submitted. The survivor election on the spousal

consent must match the annuitant’s election in Section F of form SF 2801 or

Section D of form SF 3107. The election must be notarized by a notary public.

Some common areas to check include: (1) the form cannot be a copy and must have

a signature signed in ink; and (2) the date the spouse signed the form must

match the date the notary public signs the form.

Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB)

Documentation of the employee’s FEHB status and eligibility to continue

coverage into retirement must be included in the retirement package along with a

memorandum rating any circumstances that would help OPM determine a retiring

employee’s eligibility to continue coverage into retirement. This memorandum and

all supporting documentation is provided by the retiring employee’s agency and

can be used to detain the continuous coverage of an employee for five year prior

to retirement, when documentation is otherwise unavailable.

The single most common error found in retirement packages is failure to

document the five years of FEHB coverage (or from first eligibility and through

all periods of eligibility, if less than five years). OPM would like

documentation of an employee’s coverage for their entire career. At a minimum,

OPM must have proof of the five years of coverage immediately prior to

retirement. Acceptable proof of coverage includes: (1) SF 2809 or other

enrollment forms;       (2) history reports from

online enrollments that show both the old plan and new plan, and the effective

dates for each change; and (3) evidence of coverage as a family member under

another family member’s FEHB enrollment.

Acceptable evidence of coverage under the SF 2809 includes: (1) a signed

letter from the carrier; (2) a signed memorandum from the agency detailing the

continuous coverage of the employee to prove the five year requirement and

coverage on the retirement date. Corroborative documentation showing payroll

deductions for at least five years should also be submitted; or (3) evidence of

TRICARE/CHAMPUS enrollment.

When an employee appears eligible for an automatic waiver of the five year

enrollment requirement because they retired under a Voluntary Early Retirement

Authority (VERA), the certification of eligibility for the automatic waiver must

be submitted. An employee’s request to waive the five year eligibility

requirement for all types of retirements other than a VERA must also be included

if the employee is requesting a waiver.

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)

Documentation of the employee’s FEGLI status and eligibility to continue

coverage must be included in the retiring employee’s retirement package. Just as

with FEHB coverage, OPM would like documentation of an employee’s coverage for

their entire career. At a minimum OPM must have proof of the five years of

coverage immediately prior to retirement. Acceptable proof of coverage includes:

(1) SF 2817 or SF 176; or (2) SF 50’s showing any FEGLI changes in the five

years immediately prior to retirement. As a last resort, a retiring employee’s

agency can submit payroll records to establish five years of coverage and all

changes in enrollment.

SF 2821, Agency Certification of Life Insurance Status, must be submitted for

all cases when the employee has FEGLI coverage. When the employee is eligible to

continue FEGLI coverage into retirement, the original SF 2821 must be

submitted.

For those retiring employees who have FEGLI and who are eligible to continue

their FEGLI coverage into retirement, an extremely important form that must be

completed and submitted as part of an employee’s retirement package is Form SF

2818, Continuation of Life Insurance Coverage. Please note that SF 2818 has been

revised as of February 2012. Paper copies of SF 2818 are not available. Only PDF

versions are available at   href=”http://www.opm.gov/forms”>http://www.opm.gov/forms .

The revised SF 2818 no longer requires the applicant to sign all four

sections of SF 2818. The employee only has to sign and date the form in item 14.

The employee must still:

• Check one of the boxes for Basic Life Insurance in item 7 indicating

if they want  coverage or not, of it they received a full Living Benefit

and the reduction schedule that  they want in retirement in item 8.

• Check one of the boxes for Option A in item 9, indicating if they

have Option A or if  they want Option A, or not.

• Check one of the boxes for Option B in item 10 indicating they want

to continue  coverage or not, and if applicable, the number of multiples of

“no reduction” or “full  reduction” multiples they want in retirement in

item 11.

• Check one of the boxes for Option C in item 12, indicating if they do

not have Option  C, if they want to continue coverage or not, and if

applicable, the number of “no  reduction” or “full reduction” multiples

they want in retirement in item 13.

Military Service

All periods of creditable active military service must be documented with a

DD214 reflecting the character of the service performed and any lost time. In

the absence of a DD214, OPM will accept a document signed by an official

verifying the service, a certificate of military service noting active duty

dates and honorable discharge, a copy of orders placing the employee on or off

duty, or military academy certification noting attendance and graduation.

If military retired pay is indicated and the applicant is waiving retired pay

to credit their military service, a copy of the military retired pay waiver

request must be included. If the applicant is claiming combat incurred

disability or reserve retired pay, verification must be included. If

the applicant’s post-1956 military service was paid and the SF 2806/ SF 3100

(Individual Retirement Records, IRR) has not been previously sent to OPM, then

the deposit information must be included with the IRR and must reflect that the

deposit was paid in full.

Individual Retirement Record (IRR) — SF 2806 (CSRS) / SF 3100

(FERS)

OPM must have a SF 2806/ SF 3100 on file for all periods of covered service.

SF 2806s/ SF 3100s are sent to OPM when an employee separates from an agency or

changes payroll offices. SF 2806/ SF 3100 for the retiring employee’s final

period of service is submitted with the retirement package. Some common areas to

check are: (1) service history must be complete; (2) additional pay status must

be indicated for any year applicable; (3) part-time tours of duty and/or hours

worked intermittent and or “when actually employed (WAE)” and any leave without

pay  (LWOP) must be documented; and (4) unused sick leave must be

posted.

By making sure all of the previously mentioned documents, forms and

information are complete a retiring employee will hopefully be submitting a

“healthy” retirement package, thereby avoiding unnecessary delays in OPM’s

processing of their retirement application package.

Posted: 08/24/2012

About the Author

Edward A. Zurndorfer is a Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial

Consultant, Chartered Life Underwriter, Registered Health Underwriter,

Registered Employee Benefits Consultant and Enrolled Agent in Silver Spring, MD

— and the owner of EZ Accounting and Financial Services, an accounting,

tax preparation and financial planning firm also located in Silver Spring,

MD.  Zurndorfer is also is an instructor at federal employee

retirement seminars throughout the country and writes numerous columns and books

on federal employee benefits.