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Tammy Flanagan, Senior Benefits Director at the National Institute of Transition Planning, discusses how the coronavirus is influencing how people are thinking about retirement and what to consider when offered alternatives to the standard federal benefits package

The coronavirus has impacted the way some federal employees think about retirement, but many of the same issues still impact when they choose to retire. Tammy Flanagan, Senior Benefits Director at the National Institute of Transition Planning, said she still sees changes in leadership at an agency and money as driving factors for retirement.

“Some people may want to work longer because they like the convenience of working from home,” she said. Many agencies have transitioned to telework arrangements for most employees, and some will even consider extending remote work options after the pandemic.

Flanagan mentioned that other employees may choose to retire because they enjoy the lack of a commute each day they’ve experienced during the coronavirus.

Flanagan wrote a piece recently in Government Executive about the trade-offs federal employees should consider when planning for retirement. She said feds should weigh their options carefully before giving up their government benefits for other private sector options.

“It’s always important to understand what you have as a federal employee before you talk to someone who might be either selling something or promoting some product,” she said. “You really want to know what you’re giving up before you take advantage of that.”

She said employees are faced with trade-offs such as deciding whether to replace the survivor benefit election with an insurance or annuity product, determining whether to rollover a Thrift Savings Plan account into an IRA, and choosing between the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program coverage and a Medicare advantage plan on the market.

While there are some viable alternate options government employees might consider, she mentioned there are also scams they should be aware of. She said many government employees choose to keep their federal benefits rather than taking advantage of a private sector alternative. Flanagan advised government employees to stay informed.

“You really have to weigh out the pros and cons and understand both sides of it before you make an important decision like that,” she said.

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