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How your Federal Pension gets processed.
Old 03-23-2014, 09:39 PM   #1
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How your Federal Pension gets processed.

All of you who have any type of Federal pension I think will now have an answer to why did it take so long to get my full pension paid?

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That process [getting a full check] now takes, on average, at least 61 days. That’s the same amount of time it took in 1977, according to a federal audit from that time. Many state retirement systems, which also handle large loads of employees, do it much faster. Florida takes 47 days. The California teachers’ retirement system takes 23. Texas takes two.
The short answer is because Federal pension are calculated and processed by hand with paper forms in an old limestone mine. They have been trying a failing to automate the process since the 1970s. The Washington Post amazing article is here

You know for all the jokes about Texas plenty of their government system seem to function pretty well.
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Old 03-25-2014, 02:32 PM   #2
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Wow. I got about half way through the text and had to stop. It was too depressing.

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This is one of the weirdest workplaces in the U.S. government — both for where it is and for what it does.

Here, inside the caverns of an old Pennsylvania limestone mine, there are 600 employees of the Office of Personnel Management. Their task is nothing top-secret. It is to process the retirement papers of the government’s own workers.

But that system has a spectacular flaw. It still must be done entirely by hand, and almost entirely on paper.

The employees here pass thousands of case files from cavern to cavern and then key in retirees’ personal data, one line at a time. They work underground not for secrecy but for space. The old mine’s tunnels have room for more than 28,000 file cabinets of paper records.


....

During the past 30 years, administrations have spent more than $100 million trying to automate the old-fashioned process in the mine and make it run at the speed of computers.

They couldn’t.
-ERD50
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Old 03-25-2014, 03:05 PM   #3
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If you live there, you are probably more than happy to go to an underground office to earn a good living and benefits. Not too many good jobs around.

Also, probably not a lot of well-educated people are willing to relocate there; thus the inability to get off the paper dime and automate their systems.


A.
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Old 03-25-2014, 03:48 PM   #4
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I did not experience such a delay. I retired from DoD employment on 1 Feb 2007 and my first pension check was in my bank account within 3 days.
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Old 03-25-2014, 03:58 PM   #5
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I took a deferred FERS early retirement from federal service. Plan on waiting until I'm 62 to start collecting my pension but I was curious what my pension would be if I started it when I reached my minimum retirement age (MRA) last year. I've done the calculations myself so have a pretty good idea what it would be but thought it would be an easy process for OPM to calculate the exact amount. I contacted OPM with the request and about a month later receive a letter in the mail from OPM stating they were too busy to calculate it and I should do it myself. Didn't realize they would have to dig through paper files to do it.
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Old 03-25-2014, 04:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Nodak View Post
I did not experience such a delay. I retired from DoD employment on 1 Feb 2007 and my first pension check was in my bank account within 3 days.

One of the things that was unclear from the article was are military pension also processed this way or does the DOD have a different process.

Sounds like it maybe separate.
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Old 03-25-2014, 06:05 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by clifp View Post
One of the things that was unclear from the article was are military pension also processed this way or does the DOD have a different process.

Sounds like it maybe separate.
All I can say is that when I retired from active duty (USAF) in 1989, the first check was in my bank account at the end of the month, along with the check for all my accrued leave I cashed in. Never a problem since.

So I suspect they are just talking about civilians.
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Old 03-25-2014, 06:17 PM   #8
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Well....I'm about to submit my fed retirement paperwork within the next few days. I'll report/bitch about how long it takes. Right off the bat though...it will literally be paperwork...meaning that it doesn't get submitted electronically. I have to print all the pages of the retirement application, put them in an envelope with some other documents (marriage cert, DD-214, some other stuff, & mail it to (in my case) Ft. Riley, KS. They'll fiddle with it for awhile, then send it on the DFAS, who will eventually send it to OPM. Anyhow...I'm hearing that anywhere from 2 to 6 months is the norm. However, from what I can tell, I should get a check for my unused Annual Leave within a couple of weeks after my final work date. My first pension check is supposed to show up in about a month afterwards, but it will not be the full amount. Anywhere between 60% to 80% is supposedly the norm, and then it takes the rest of the 2-6 months or so to get things "finalized" and then begin receiving the full pension. Anyhow...I'll begin this process in a few days, with my final retirement date being 3 July, 2014. Oh yeah, the 2-6 months thing starts (I believe) on my actual retirement date, not the date I mail in the paperwork.
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Old 03-25-2014, 06:40 PM   #9
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I retired from the Feds as a civilian on 7/3/09, and it took a little less than 2 months for my retirement to be finalized. Not retiring at the end of the year probably helped. Retire on July 3, and celebrate Independence Day the next day
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:07 PM   #10
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I was a DoD civilian so not a military pension. I was concerned about how long it would take to process but as I said pension in bank in 2 or 3 days.
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Old 03-26-2014, 05:38 AM   #11
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I retired from the Feds as a civilian on 7/3/09, and it took a little less than 2 months for my retirement to be finalized. Not retiring at the end of the year probably helped. Retire on July 3, and celebrate Independence Day the next day

The article said on average 2 months so it sounds like your experience was average.. On the other hand Texas is two days, and the absolute worse I've heard in the private sector is one pay cycle. I am also sure that no private employer has an army of folks working in a mine using paper to calculate a pension.

Pretty sure those calculations are performed by that new fangled invention the computer.
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Old 03-26-2014, 03:34 PM   #12
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The paper package which my HR rep sent to Payroll, who sent it on to OPM after they finalized my pay account (which takes about 4 weeks), was half an inch thick.

The HR rep agreed that it was old-fashioned and a pain. She, in turn, had been informed that OPM doesn't accept digitally signed retirement forms; everything has to be the original signed form from the employee (OK, they did accept a photocopy of my marriage license).

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Old 03-30-2014, 11:38 PM   #13
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I retired in 2003 as a fed civilian (D0D) and never had to do anything other than prepare my retirement application, take it to HR and review my full retirement package in HR. They took care of everything and I never had contact with OPM at that time. My last day was the 31st of a month and about 15 days later I received a bank deposit for my unused leave along with my pay from the last pay period. On the first of the next month I received a bank deposit for about 75% of what I thought my full retirement would be. Two months later I received a deposit for the preceding month as well as the remainder of what they owed me. 11 years later and it has worked very well.

I know many folks have experienced very long wait times and wildly incorrect amounts. It really is a matter of how well your HR office keeps your files and how many agencies you have worked for. The more agencies, the more chance something will get lost and have to be recreated, which take a long time. I worked for DoD the whole time - different departments, but the same agency. The experiences of my fellow workers were very similar to mine.

It's funny that DFAS has everything automated, but when it gets to OPM, it all gets printed out. You really would think that OPM would have developed software that can handle this by now. But I guess it's just not a priority.

Best of luck, MartyB and congratulations on your retirement.
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