Best Dates to Retire 2013

Your annual guide to picking the best day to call it a career.

Download the Calendar: Best Dates to Retire 2013

It’s that time of year again. Are you thinking about setting your retirement date for 2013? This column is designed to help you find the most advantageous date for your departure.

If you’re planning to retire sometime this year, you can read my Best Dates to Retire 2012 column.) Also, if you need a primer on what times of the month are generally best to retire (depending on what retirement system you’re in), see my March 9 column, Best Date to Retire Tips.

In general, the last day of the month is good under both the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System, and the 1st, 2nd or 3rd of the month are good under CSRS, too.

The end of a leave period also is an opportune time. That’s because leave accrual is not pro-rated. Retiring in the middle of a leave period means you don’t accrue any sick or annual leave for that period. In 2013, three months end at or next to the end of a leave period: May, June and November. Notice that for some of these months, the last day is a Friday and in others, it’s a Saturday or Sunday. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’ve completed your full work schedule. If you are covered under CSRS (or CSRS Offset), you might also consider May 3, Aug. 2 or Nov. 1.

If you work a flexible schedule and Friday is your regular day off, then you might be able to retire on a Thursday after completing 80 hours of work for the pay period and accrue your final leave accrual. For CSRS employees, Oct. 3 is a Thursday. This might be a good date if Friday is your regular day off.

For those under FERS, sometimes there are benefits to retiring in the middle of the month. You can earn some extra days of salary to offset the retirement benefit you will forfeit, and gain some other advantages. For example, if you choose to retire at the end of a leave period, you get an additional leave accrual and more days of service than you would have if you retired at the end of the previous month.

For example, let’s say you’re planning to retire on April 30, 2013. If you do, your retirement benefit will be based on the amount of service you have on April 30, and your first FERS retirement benefit will be computed for the month of May. But suppose you have 20 years, 6 months and 20 days of service and you are 61 years and 11 months of age. And suppose your 62nd birthday is May 6. The next leave period ends on May 18. You would not receive your May retirement check, which, if your high-three average salary is $70,000, would be in the amount of $1,195. But here is what you would gain by moving your retirement date to May 18:

Agency payroll offices are responsible for paying lump sum payments for all accumulated and accrued annual leave. In some cases this comes as early as two weeks after retirement, but it could take up to eight weeks. Still, it definitely will arrive before the final processing of your retirement claim and might help pay the bills while you are in interim retired status and receiving partial retirement payments.

For those retiring at the end of 2013, FERS employees will probably choose Dec. 31, 2013 or possibly Jan. 10, 2014, and CSRS employees will find that Jan. 3, 2014 would be their best date.

Are you ready to look at what specific dates will be the best throughout next year? Click on the link below to download a calendar highlighting them, month by month.

Best Dates to Retire 2013

The second-to-last paragraph in the original version of this column said, "CSRS employees will find that Jan. 3, 2013 would be their best date." The correct date is Jan. 3, 2014. The column has been updated to correct the error. 

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