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News | Aug. 16, 2022

It's never too early to start planning for retirement

By Irene Smith DLA Energy Public Affairs

More than 150 Defense Logistics Agency Energy employees participated in a virtual Lunch and Learn on federal retirement planning Aug. 10.  

DLA Human Resources Benefits Specialist Aaron “Kav” Kavanagh provided an overview of the federal retirement system options adding helpful suggestions and insights on the steps needed to retire. 

The DLA Energy Lunch and Learn events are quarterly informational briefings developed to foster professional development in the workforce.

“These events are great venues for bringing in professionals to discuss topics of interest,” said DLA Energy Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Canlas who provided opening remarks. “Retirement planning is important, and we want to make sure we are setting you up for success.”

Kavanagh entered government service in 1992 as an Airman with the U.S. Air Force, retiring in 2017. He held numerous positions of which he oversaw and managed unit and major command level human resources programs, processes and special events. In 2017, Kav joined the DLA New Cumberland Benefit's team, providing insight and direction on retirement to eligible employees. 

The Civil Service Retirement System and the CSRS Offset is a defined benefit, contributory retirement system that was established in 1920 for certain federal employees. It was replaced by the Federal Employees Retirement System for federal employees who first entered covered service on and after Jan. 1, 1987. Since that time, new Federal civilian employees who have retirement coverage are covered by FERS. 

According to DLA Human Resources, there are 194 Energy employees currently eligible for retirement. The majority of the DLA Energy workforce falls under the FERS retirement plan.

Kavanagh highlighted the differences in retirement eligibility, computation and calculations of planning and applying to retire under the different programs.  

“If you’re ready to go, I’m here for you,” Kavanagh said. “If you are thinking of retiring, you should first request an estimate.”

The pre-retirement process begins with checking an employee’s Official Personnel Folder and requesting a retirement estimate (CAC-required). Kavanagh recommended that federal employees ask for a estimate every two years.

“Once you get an estimate, you need to submit a Standard Form 52 to initiate the Request for Personnel Action in the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System, which will then be routed to the Benefits inbox,” he said.

Employees can only make one estimate request per 12-month period and must be a date no more than two years into the future. 

Another faster and more frequent tool used for retirement pay calculation, is the GRB Platform (CAC required) that offers no limits on the numbers of estimates requested.

The importance of verifying data cannot be underestimated, said the Director for DLA Energy Manpower & Administrative Support Lisa Buck. She recommends that an employee sends Standard Form 52 (Request for Personnel Action) to the Manpower Office to initiate the process.

“While the GRB system is a good tool to use, please reach out to the benefits team to ensure what is provided is an accurate estimate,” Buck said. “The reason is because we had an individual who used this as her primary source and based her retirement date on it only to find out she needed to extend an additional six months. This can be heart breaking for individuals who have planned everything on this date including the sale of their home and other plans.”

Kavanagh stressed the importance of verifying beneficiary forms, service records, civilian and military deposits and the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, referred to as a DD 214, issued upon a military service member's retirement, separation or discharge from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States.

The retirement request will then be assigned to an HR specialist who will prepare the application and provide it to the employee via email. The employee submits the completed application to their benefit’s specialist at least 30 days prior to the requested date. Finally, the HR specialist forwards the application package to Defense Finance Accounting System no later than 10 working days prior to retirement date.

DLA Human Resources Center site serves DLA employees as well as the DoD Serviced agencies. For benefits guidance and assistance, contact your servicing human resources team (CAC-required).

“If you’re ready to go, let’s go,” Kavanagh said. “The process takes at least 60 days so plan accordingly. The best date to retire regardless of CSRS or FERS is December 31 since it concludes the last pay period of the year. If you are thinking of retiring this December, you need to submit your SF 52 forms now, there is a lot of paperwork to be done.”