When your long-awaited retirement day approaches, you want it to be everything you’ve dreamed of and worked for financially. But, for federal employees, one file/folder can cause you a headache as you approach federal retirement. It’s called the Official Personnel Folder (OPF), and the records inside contain valuable information that can impact your retirement benefits. You should check the OPF annually, especially as you prepare for retirement.
What is the Official Personnel Folder (OPF)?
Have you ever looked at your Official Personnel Folder (OFP), also referred to as Standard Form 66 (SF-66)? It a record of your federal employment, and it helps with employment decisions during your career, determines retirement benefits, and protects the legal and financial rights of you and the government.
You may also hear it referred to as an eOPF as agencies move to electronic Official Personnel Folders.
It’s important to view this folder during employment and after separation of service to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefits under the Federal Employees Retirement System or Civil Service Retirement System.
What's included in the OPF/eOPF?
Your Official Personnel Folder includes:
- Valid federal appointments
- Military service
- Employment history, including pay, occupation(s), and grades
- Federal Benefits (health, life, beneficiaries)
How does my OPF impact retirement benefits?
Your OPF contains the records that are used to calculate your retirement eligibility and benefits under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).
It also contains information on your health benefits, which you’ll need to have for five years before retirement in order to continue the health insurance coverage after retirement.
Plus, it also may contain beneficiaries for life insurance. Other agencies may also hold some of your beneficiary designations.
It’s important to verify beneficiaries occasionally, as you probably haven’t looked at them since your hiring date. It’s possible that life circumstances changed who you would like to be the beneficiary, especially as you near retirement age.
Or, perhaps you got divorced and need to change your beneficiary as you start over after a divorce.
Who should check the OPF?
Every federal employee should check their OPF.
You should check it annually, so you can make corrections as you go and are not waiting until right before retirement. Since the Official Personnel Folder contains documents and information that determines retirement benefits, what’s in the folder or not in the folder can impact you financially.
Also, you want to make sure you’re getting credit for all your service, especially if you’ve worked for more than one federal agency. Missing documents can cause you not to receive full credit for years of service.
If you haven’t regularly checked it, you should start with annual checks when you are five years from retirement. Then, check it annually
That way if there are errors or omissions, you can get the documentation updated or request documents before you retire.
What should I look for in my OPF/eOPF/OMPF?
When viewing your file, verify all the information including pay, occupations, and grades.
Also, ensure it includes all your creditable service and military service (if applicable). That will help determine your retirement benefits.
Also, verify your federal health benefits are accurate. These are important as you approach retirement as there is a five year rule. You need to have benefits for five years before retirement to continue them during retirement.
Also, verify beneficiaries are accurate in your folder.
How do you view the eOPF?
The Electronic Official Personnel Folder (eOPF) provides a quick electronic connection to your folder through a computer with a registered DOC IP address or registered DOC Virtual Private Network tunnel (VPN).
You can view files, search, and print documents. The system will also notify you when documents are added to your eOPF.
If you need help, contact the eOPF Help Desk at [email protected] or call 866-275-8518.
How do you view your OPF if you don’t have electronic access?
If you don’t have access to your folder electronically, you can ask your agency’s Human Resources Office for help accessing the folder and making updates or amendments.
If you’re a former civilian federal employee and separated from your position more than 120 days ago, you can get your folder by sending a request to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) which maintains records for federal civilian employees who had a position after 1951. Send the request to:
National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)
1411 Boulder Boulevard
Valmeyer, IL 62295
Fax: 618-935-3014 or 618-935-3019
If it’s within 120 days, you can request your records from your last federal employment office.
The request must be hand signed, meaning cursive, and dated within the last year. You must include:
- Documents or information you need
- Purpose of your request
- Full name used during federal employment
- Date of birth
- Social Security Number (if applicable)
- Name and location of the federal agency that employed you
- Start and end of federal service
- Address or fax number to mail documents
If the nature of your request is related to retirement and benefits, you should contact the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Federal records for federal jobs
Federal records are vital to retirement benefits for federal employees, but they’re one piece of the retirement puzzle.
As a federal employee, you’ll also likely have a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) which allows you to invest throughout your career.
What’s in your Official Personnel Folder matters while you’re employed with the government and after you separate.
With so many factors influencing your financial wealth when you retire, it’s important that you talk with a federal retirement benefits expert or financial planner to ensure you’re taking the appropriate steps to achieve your retirement goals and dreams.