Learn some of the basics about retirement and pension benefits.

Saving for Retirement

As you approach retirement, there are many things to think about. Experts advise that you will need about 80 percent of your pre-retirement income to continue your current quality of life. The exact amount, of course, depends on your individual needs. Some important factors to consider include:

  • At what age do you plan to retire?
  • Can you participate in an employer's retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k) plan, or a traditional pension plan? 
  • Will your spouse or partner retire when you do?
  • Where do you plan to live when you retire? Will you downsize, rent, or own you home?
  • Do you expect to work part-time?
  • Will you have the same medical insurance you had while working? Will your coverage change?
  • Do you want to travel or pursue a new hobby that might be costly?

Resources to Help You Prepare for Retirement

To help you plan for retirement:

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About Pension Benefits

If you're covered by a traditional pension plan, the benefits you've earned will be paid to you even if the company runs into financial problems.  

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a government agency that:

Is Your Pension Insured?

How Your Guaranteed Pension Works

Find an Unclaimed Pension

More than 38 million people in the U.S. haven’t claimed pension benefits they have earned. Find out if you, or someone you know, is owed a pension.

Pension Counseling Program for Seniors

The Administration on Aging (AoA) offers Pension Counseling and Information to help you understand your pension rights and claim the benefits you’ve earned, regardless of the type of company you worked for or the type of pension plan involved.

Pension Taxes

The IRS offers information to help you determine whether or not your pension or annuity income is taxable.

The IRS has information to help small businesses determine which tax-favored pension plan best suits their needs and how to keep their plans in compliance. 

Questions or Complaints

If you have questions or complaints about your employer-sponsored pension plan, contact your human resources office or locate the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) Regional Office near you.

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Common Options to Save for Retirement

This infographic shows the most common ways people save for retirement.

View a larger version of the infographic.

In the United States, people live an average of 20 years after retirement. The three most common options to save for retirement are:

  1. Retirement Plans offered by an employer
  2. Savings and Investments
  3. Social Security

For more information, visit

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Civil Service Retirement

If you are a federal employee planning to retire or a federal retiree looking for information about your benefits, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)'s Retirement page can help you:

If you are the survivor of a deceased federal employee or federal retiree, you may be eligible for death and survivor benefits. Visit the OPM website to report the death and apply for death benefits

Thrift Savings Plan

In addition to the defined or basic benefits provided by your CSRS or FERS plan, if you are a current federal employee, you can boost your retirement savings by participating in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The TSP offers the same types of savings and tax benefits as a 401(k) plan.

Combine Military Service and Civil Service Retirement

Military service does not automatically count toward civil service retirement.

Contact OPM's Retirement Operations Center

For benefits information or help with a transaction, contact OPM's Retirement Operations Center.

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Public Service and Volunteerism

Many federal organizations offer volunteer opportunities:

  • - Sign up for volunteer opportunities and create projects. Tool kits are available to help develop your ideas into projects.
  • - Start a volunteer project, send a message of thanks or give service hours to support our service members and their families.
  • - Find volunteer programs where you serve abroad and make a difference by working directly within communities to build capacity in education, health, environment and more.
  • - Get training in first aid and emergency skills. Volunteer to support local emergency responders and disaster relief efforts.
  • - Offers grants for service and volunteering; programs include the AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Social Innovation Fund.
  • - Volunteer opportunities in America's natural and cultural resources, including national parks.
  • - Volunteer at a Veterans Affairs (VA) facility in your area.
  • Federal Election Volunteers – Become a Poll Worker - Assist election officials in your state.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Earth Team Volunteers - Work with private landowners to improve soil quality, conserve water, improve air quality and enhance wildlife habitat.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - Volunteers take part in research, observation and educational roles that benefit science and the planet.

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Do you need help?

Ask us any question about the U.S. government for free. We'll get you the answer, or we'll tell you where to find it.

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