Best time to retire


Q. I am a CSRS employee who will be 55 years old in September 2015 and will have 38 years of federal service. Some are telling me to stay until I have 41 years because of the added benefit. What’s the big difference? I’d like to go as soon as I’m eligible.

A. The longer you work, the larger your annuity will be. If you work for 41 years and 11 months, your annuity will be 80 percent of your high-3. If you work longer, retirement contributions will continue to be taken from your pay. When you retire, they’ll be returned to you with the option of buying additional annuity. Like unused sick leave, it isn’t subject to the 80 percent limit. As I’ve often said, the time to retire is when you are emotionally and financially able to do so. I’ve know too many people who have died before reaching their highest high-3 or maximized their annuity.


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  1. With 38 years under CSRS, this individual is essentially working for no compensation, anyday beyond his 55th birthday. Unless this person has absolutely no interests or activities outside of his job, there would be absolutely no reason to report to a job, at this point.

  2. I’d say that if you have been in CSRS for 35 years and do not know how your retirement is calculated (percent, high-3, etc.), you don’t know enough to make that kind of decision.

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