FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Much like their military counterparts, Department of Defense civilian employees earn retirement benefits as they serve their country.
Figuring out when to retire — and how much retirement income can be expected — is made easier via the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center.
According to Tina Utt, director of Fort Leonard Wood’s CPAC, there are a number of things employees can do to help take some of the guesswork out of the transition to retirement, and that starts with knowing where to find information.
Utt recommended visiting the CAC-enabled Government Retirement and Benefits, or GRB, page on the Army Benefits Center-Civilian website.
“That is the platform the Army uses for civilians to input their retirement paperwork into the system,” she said. “This site provides all kinds of information, to include when you are eligible to retire and an estimate on what your pay may be. The ABC-C website has a wealth of information to inform you about what kinds of decisions you will need to make.”
One of the common regrets Utt said she hears from civilians is not starting the retirement process sooner. She said the ABC-C site features regular pre-retirement benefits overview briefings held virtually, and there is no need to register.
“There is not an issue with listening in two years before you want to retire and then again one year out,” Utt said.
To be considered a candidate for retirement under the Federal Employee Retirement System, Utt said employees must have at least five years of creditable civilian service to be eligible for an annuity and be covered by the retirement system on the day of separation.
“There are exceptions to that time limit if it is a disability retirement,” she said.
Candidates must also meet minimum age of retirement, or MRA. Under FERS, Utt said the MRA is based upon the year in which the employee was born — a chart is available on the ABC-C website. An employee born after 1969, for example, is eligible to retire at age 57.
Utt said civilians should submit their retirement packets at least 120 days out from retirement. She recommended having at least six months’ worth of savings available on the retirement date while that packet makes its way through the system to the Office of Personnel Management, the agency charged with managing civil service in the federal government.
All of the Army’s benefits specialists are located at Fort Riley, Kansas, Utt said, and the ABC-C telephone system is currently unavailable while it goes through an overhaul. For the time being, Army civilians may email questions to email@example.com.