Retirement Planning Help for Fed Employees On Its Way

March 2, 2006 ( - The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has unveiled a prototype of a new retirement planning tool for federal employees. reports that the online tool asks 40 questions and assigns employees a score that signifies their level of retirement readiness – from “It’s time to get going” to “You are on track.” Employees are asked about home equity, consumer debt and the percentage of their salary contributed to the Thrift Savings Plan, as well as long-term care insurance and the amount of time spent calculating and budgeting for retirement.

In addition, there are questions on social and health preparedness, according to Mary Willett, a consultant aiding OPM in the design of the tool, said that employees should also pay attention to life expectancy and their prospects for post-retirement activities in order to decide expenses.

Scores on the online profile are calculated differently for each participant based on their time remaining until retirement.

The planning tool includes a worksheet, called the Ballpark Estimate, designed specifically for federal employees, that will help calculate the amount of money that should be saved every year. Additionally, employer agencies will receive statistics, compiled from the completed profiles, on the retirement readiness of their employees as a group in order to tailor education efforts. OPM will provide a resource guide to help workers with missed planning opportunities.

Willett pointed out that the tool is still in development and is likely to see changes before being rolled out by the end of the year.

OPM announced the planning tool last year as part of its education plan (SeeOPM to Step Up Federal Education Efforts), mandated by a 2004 law requiring the government to develop a new strategy for boosting federal employees’ retirement financial literacy.