Best retirement date


Q. I have read a number of articles noting the best dates to retire in 2014. For example, I have seen March 22 and Dec. 28. As a GS-13 FERS employee who will have about 32 years of service at age 61 as of Dec. 28, does it really make that much of a difference to wait until Dec. 28 versus March 22 (at which time I will already be 60) in terms of my FERS annuity? I have about 1,800 hours of sick leave, have been maximizing my Thrift Savings Plan contribution most of my career, and I was eligible for buyout this past October. I’m thinking it’s time to go in 2014.

A. First, I have to get something out of my system. THERE IS NO BEST DATE TO RETIRE! Ahh, that felt good. Now, let’s get down to business. There are only a few things that affect the amount of an annuity.

First is length of service. The longer you work, the greater your annuity will be.

Second, the formula used to compute the annuity. If you are like most FERS employees retiring on an immediate annuity, the following formula is used: .01 x high-3 x years and full months of service. However, if you retire at or after age 62 with 20 or more years of service, the multiplier is increased from .01 to .011.

Third is whether to retire at the end of a pay period. If you do, you’ll receive credit for any annual and sick leave you earned during that pay period. If you don’t, you won’t. Depending on when the end of a pay period falls, the gap between when you retire and when you are on the annuity roll can be greater or smaller.

Fourth is the time of year when you retire. As a FERS employee, you’ll only receive a full cost-of-living adjustment on your annuity in January of the year following your retirement if you retire no later than Nov. 30. For every month after that, the following year’s COLA would be reduced by 1/12th.

Now you are ready to figure out which retirement date is best for you.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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