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Retirement Planning Checklist

Updated September 2020
Print Version

The earlier you begin planning for retirement, the better prepared you’ll be. If you haven’t already sought financial planning advice, now is a great time. This checklist can help you successfully transition into retirement. You might be able to increase your retirement income or even retire sooner than you had planned.

1-2 years before retirement

  • Sign up to access your retirement account at at www.drs.wa.gov. With an online account, you can view all of your retirement accounts that DRS administers. Here you can use the Online Benefit Estimator to estimate your future monthly benefit. And you can use your online account to verify the accuracy of your service credit.
  • Review your plan guide for retirement eligibility rules.
  • Find out which annuity and service credit purchase options are available to you. Or contact us to find out more.
  • Plan for health care coverage during retirement. Note options that are available to you.
  • Ask your employer if they participate in a health reimbursement arrangement with the Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA).
  • Visit drs.wa.gov/education for free DRS retirement planning resources including videos and live webinars.

3-12 months before retirement

  • Before you can retire with DRS, your must request an official estimate of your monthly benefit payment. You can do this securely through your online account or by calling DRS.
  • Complete payment of any outstanding optional service credit invoices.
  • Ask your employer about which health care coverage options are available to you when you retire. If you are or will be covered by a Health Care Authority program such as PEBB or SEBB, visit hca.wa.gov to find out more about your options.
  • Decide when you should apply for Medicare and retirement benefits available through the Social Security Administration.

30-90 days before retirement

  • Contact DRS if you need to make changes to your official estimate (for example, to change your retirement date or survivor option).
  • Apply for retirement through your online account.
  • Review your acknowledgment letter. Ensure it’s accurate. This important letter summarizes the options you picked. It also tells you which forms still need to be turned in so DRS can process your retirement application. If you applied online, you won’t receive this letter. Instead, review the final page of your application and emailed receipt to verify your retirement option and to see whether additional documentation is needed.
  • Pay any outstanding optional annuity or service credit invoices.
  • If you have Plan 3, decide when you want to begin receiving payments from your investment account once you retire. Explore your Plan 3 withdrawal options.
  • If you’re eligible for PEBB health care, send your PEBB retiree coverage election form to the Health Care Authority (HCA).
  • If you are a DCP member, consider contacting DRS to ask about deferring lump sum payments for any unused leave.
  • Tell your employer your intended retirement date.

At and during retirement

  • Make sure the retirement information on your benefit letter is correct. You’ll receive this letter once DRS calculates your monthly benefit.
  • Contact DRS if you don’t receive your first payment within one week of the date listed in your benefit letter.
  • Ensure the deductions on your monthly benefit statement are correct.
  • If you have a PEBB health plan, contact PEBB Benefit Services with any questions you have about health plan premium deductions.
  • Contact DRS for questions about any non-PEBB deductions.
  • Keep your address and beneficiary information current with DRS.

Enjoy your retirement!


Here are some organizations customers commonly contact when retiring. 

Department of Retirement Systems
Website: drs.wa.gov
Phone: 360.664.7000 or 800.547.6657 (TTY dial 711)
Visit the DRS contact page for more options to reach us.
Deferred Compensation Program (DCP)
Website: drs.wa.gov/dcp
Phone: 888.327.5596
Plan 3 Record Keeper
Website: drs.wa.gov/plan3
Phone: 888.327.5596
Social Security Administration (SSA)
Website: www.socialsecurity.gov
Phone: 800.772.1213
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Website: www.irs.gov
Phone: 800.829.1040
Health Care Authority (PEBB or SEBB)
Website: www.hca.wa.gov
Phone: 800.200.1004
PEBB Phone:  360.725.0440 or 800.200.1004
Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA)
Website: www.veba.org
Phone: 888.828.4953

Updating Your Address and/or Name

Retirees, inactive members, beneficiaries and legal-order payees: You can update your address from your online retirement account. Just select “Address” from the welcome screen. If you need to update your name, fill out and send in a printed form as well as a copy of documentation showing the change.

Active members: Update your name and/or address through your employer. That new information will soon appear in your online retirement account.

Direct Deposit

Set up and manage direct deposit of your benefit payments from your online retirement account. Just follow the “Direct Deposit” directions under “My Account” in the navigation menu.

(If you prefer to fill out and mail in a printed form, select this link.)

Beneficiary Designation

Members, you can update your beneficiary information from your online retirement account. Select “My Account” in the navigation menu and then “View/Edit” beside “Beneficiary.”

(If you prefer to fill out and mail in a printed form, select this link.)