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Retirement Information

A Checklist to Guide You 
Through the Retirement Process


The number of retired public employees in NC is projected to grow from 194,000 today to 315,000 in 2022. If you are among the thousands planning to retire in the next few years, the expanded interactive checklist below will help you know how to approach the retirement process.

This checklist is linked to detailed sources of information about your retirement benefits available These resources are intended to provide guidance to employees counting down to retirement.

1 to 3 Years Before Your Retirement Date

  • Review your annual statement from your Retirement System, which is distributed in May and June of each year, to ensure the creditable service on file for you is correct. If you feel it is not correct, please contact the System at 1-877-627-3287 (toll-free) or 919-807-3050 (in the Raleigh area) to request a review of your account.
  • Attend a retirement planning conference. These are held year-round across NC for state and local government employees. Visit our online conference schedule or contact your human resources (HR) office for a list of meetings and locations.
  • Download an updated copy of your benefits handbook. Familiarize yourself with the formula for calculating your retirement benefit and your benefit payment options.
  • Estimate your benefit amount by visiting the Retirement System’s benefits calculator. An estimate will provide you with the approximate amount of your monthly benefit based on your desired retirement date.


120 Days Before Your Retirement Date


  • Discuss your retirement with your agency’s Human Resources (HR) office. Be sure they are aware of your plans. Regardless of your last day of work, your retirement date must be the first day of the next month. For example: If the last day you work is Oct. 1, 2012 (or any day in Oct 2012), your retirement date will be Nov. 1, 2012.
  • Read about your benefit payment options in your benefits handbook. Consider which option would work best for you and your family.


90 to 120 Days Before Your Retirement Date

  • Obtain a Form 6, Claiming Your Monthly Retirement Benefit, available on the "Applications and Forms" page of this website. Be sure to read the Guides on the Form 6 for additional detailed information about the retirement process.
  • Complete and sign your Form 6, and submit it to your HR office. State law prohibits you from signing your retirement application more than 120 days before your retirement date. After certifying your final salary, sick leave, and vacation time, your HR office will then submit your completed application to the System.
  • Be sure your retirement application has been received by the Retirement System. Approximately 90 days from receipt is required by the System to complete your application process. Staff must verify your service and check your application for accuracy before you receive your first benefit check. If your application is not received by the System 90 days before your retirement date, you may experience a delay in receiving your first benefit check. If a delay does occur, you will be paid retroactive to your retirement date.
  • Receive a Form 6 confirmation letter. A confirmation letter will be mailed to you within 48 hours after your application is received.
  • Receive a Form 170, Authorizing Direct Deposit.
  • Receive a Form HM Online (if you are a teacher or state employee), Instructions for Selecting Retiree Health Coverage Through the State Health Plan Online. 
  • Receive a Form 333, Choosing the Contributory Death Benefit for Retired Members. This optional $10,000.00 benefit payable at your death is available to all retirees for a low cost per month, which will be deducted from your benefit payment. You must elect this benefit by returning the Form 333 no later than 60 days after your retirement date. After this 60-day period, you will no longer be able to elect the optional Contributory Death Benefit coverage.


60 to 15 Days Before Your Retirement Date

  • Receive a Form 6E, Choosing Your Retirement Payment Option, from the Retirement System. When the System has processed your retirement application, you will receive an estimate and a Form 6E providing your benefit option choices and an explanation of each. Along with the Form 6E, you'll receive a Form 336, Designating Beneficiary(ies) for the Guaranteed Refund as a Retiree, to complete and return to the Retirement System.
  • Receive a Form 290, Choosing Income Tax Preferences, from the Retirement System. Please fill out this form and return it to the System along with your Form 6E. You may want to consult with a financial or tax advisor to ensure you are withholding the appropriate amount from your check. Please refer to your benefits handbook to learn more about special tax treatment for some Retirement System benefits.
  • Discuss your payment options with family and those who advise you on your finances. Your option decision will determine how much you receive each month and how much your beneficiaries receive after your death, if applicable.
  • Select your payment option using the Form 6E provided.
  • Return the Form 6E to the Retirement System. If this form is properly completed and returned to the System by the 10th day of your retirement month, your first benefit check will be mailed on the 25th day of that month. For example, if you retire on Oct. 1, 2012 and the System receives your Form 6E by Oct. 10, your first benefit check will be mailed on Oct. 25, 2012. If your Form 6E is not returned by the 10th day of your retirement month, but is returned to the System by the 25th, your first check will be mailed within a week after the 25th day of the month in which the Form 6E was received. If your Form 6E is returned to the System after the 25th of the month in which it is first payable, your first check will be mailed within a week after the System receives your completed Form 6E. If a retroactive amount is payable to you, it will be included in your first check.
  • Receive a Form 6E confirmation letter. Once your properly completed Form 6E is received by the System, you will receive a confirmation letter listing the option you selected and the date your first benefit check will be mailed.


Your Retirement Date

  • Enjoy the first day of your retirement. If your application was completed as instructed above, a paper check in the amount of your first benefit payment will be mailed to you on the 25th of this month. Once you cash this check or your second payment is direct deposited, your option selection and retirement are irreversible (except under specific circumstances). Your second benefit payment will go directly into the bank account you designated on your direct deposit form.
  • Familiarize yourself with return-to-work policies. State and local government retirees are permitted to return to work for a state or local government employer with certain restrictions. Please see the “Reemployment” section for your Retirement System in Your Retirement Benefits handbook, for detailed information regarding this subject.


After You Receive Your First Check

Log into ORBIT. Now that you have your first benefit payment, you have all the information you need to log into ORBIT (Online Retirement Benefits Through Integrated Technology). This system grants members 24-hour online access to their retirement account. Visit ORBIT to acquire a unique user ID and secure password. ORBIT will provide you with payment history, earnable allowance, tax documents, the option to change your address, and much more.
Look for final benefit adjustments. Payroll adjustments made by your employer after you retire could cause your benefit to change. If this occurs, you will be notified and your benefit payment adjusted within one year after you retire. A benefit adjustment is necessary for approximately 50 percent of all new retirees.