Retirement Planning Retirement PlanningRetirement Planning
Advice on how to prepare for life after government.

Best Dates to Retire 2018

Download the Best Dates to Retire 2018 Calendar

Once you’ve made the decision that you’re ready to retire, it’s time to select a specific date within your desired timeframe. Last week’s column provided a general guide to deciding when to go. Now let’s look at some specifics related to picking a date next year.

Your retirement coverage under the Civil Service Retirement System (including CSRS Offset) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (including transfers to FERS) will be an important factor in choosing the best date.


You can choose a retirement date on the first, second or third day of any month and your retirement will commence the following day. So, for example, if you retire on Oct. 1, your salary will end close of business that day and your first retirement benefit will be paid on Nov. 1, covering the remainder of October. If you retire on any day after Oct. 3, then your first retirement benefit will be paid on Dec. 1, covering the month of November. You would forfeit the October CSRS retirement benefit.

The best dates for CSRS in 2018 will be Jan. 3, Feb. 2, March 2, March 31...

Picking a Date to Retire

Is there such a thing as a best date to retire? I should probably know by now, because I’m known for coming up with an annual calendar of such dates.

As more and more federal employees are now retiring under the Federal Employees Retirement System, I have been rethinking the idea of a best date for retirement. Although it is important to carefully choose your exact retirement date, it is even more critical to complete the steps leading up to choosing the day on which you’ll go.

Next week, I’ll present the annual best dates calendar, as usual. But this week, I want to talk about assessing your retirement readiness in preparation of selecting the date that’s best for you.

Civil Service Retirement System

CSRS was designed as a single benefit plan providing a complete retirement all in one monthly retirement payment. An employee who works in government for 40 years under CSRS gets a benefit equal to more than 75 percent of his or her high-three average salary—with immediate cost-of-living adjustments and a survivor annuity for those who elect a reduced benefit.

Most federal employees hired before 1984 retire under CSRS, and they’ve...

How to Know When It’s Time To Go

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be exploring a topic of perennial interest—picking the best date to retire. But before I do that, I thought it would be worth taking a quick look back at the subject of deciding whether and when to leave government.

So here, in case you missed them (or just want a quick refresher), are links some of my recent columns that address issues related to moving on from a federal career—especially during these turbulent times.

Thinking About Getting Out of Government? Here’s What You Need to Know

I always try to point out the value of working long enough in government to retire and be eligible for lifetime health benefits and other advantages enjoyed by federal retirees. But some employees are going to leave government service before they are eligible for immediate retirement. If you’re in this group, here are some things you should know before you leave.

With Cuts on the Table, Is It Time To Go?

With significant cuts to retirement benefits included in the president’s budget, some employees are asking if they should move up their retirement date to August or September so they can...

Why Your Retirement Income May Depend on Where You Live

There are lots of different taxes in this country: federal income, state income, capital gains, sales and property, to name a few. When it comes to planning for retirement, it’s important not to forget about taxes.

In previous columns on taxes, I’ve focused mostly on federal income tax, but today, I want to discuss state tax planning.

When it comes to taxes, I always consult my favorite CPA, Bob Leins of Turner, Leins, and Gold, for advice. Here’s what he has to say about state income tax planning for retirement:

The first step is to find out if you will have to pay state income taxes on your Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System benefit, Social Security income, and Thrift Savings Plan distributions. The following states don’t have a state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Tennessee. But the latter two states tax dividends and income from investments. Some other states exempt some retirement income from taxation.

The TSP and Social Security Administration will not withhold any state income tax. As a result, generally your source for state income tax withholding will be the Office of...

3 Things You May Not Understand About the TSP

In last week’s column, we got into some Thrift Savings Plan issues that were fairly complicated, such as whether or not to take a lump-sum payment and use it to eliminate debt. This week, the TSP is the focus again, but I’ll keep things a little more simple.

Here are the top three things that employees sometimes misunderstand when it comes to their TSP accounts.

How Does Matching Work?

One of the key features of the Federal Employees Retirement System is that employees receive agency automatic and matching funds in their TSP accounts.

Here’s how it works: Your agency automatically contributes 1 percent of your basic pay (including locality pay) to your TSP account. It also starts matching your own contributions as soon as you start making them. So if you contribute 1 percent of your basic biweekly salary, you will receive 1 percent in matching contributions, along with the automatic 1 percent agency contribution.

If you contribute up to 3 percent of your basic pay, the matching is dollar for dollar. If you contribute 4 or 5 percent of your basic pay, the matching on the additional contributions is fifty cents per dollar of your contribution...