Best retirement date


Q. I am a CSRS fed, planning on retiring at the end of 2012. Is there any difference in benefits leaving either Dec. 31, 2012, or Jan 2, 2013? I know that if I retire Dec. 31, my cost-of-living adjustment in January 2013 will be 11/12 of the consumer price index. If I retire Jan. 2, 2013, won’t my January 2013 CPI also be 11/12? In both cases, won’t my annuity begin in January 2013?

I’m also planning on cashing in my annual leave and wanted the lump sum applied to the 2013 tax year. I believe either date would meet this criterion. Is it true that the leave year doesn’t end until Jan. 12, 2013?

A. Neither of the dates you picked makes any sense. For most employees, the last pay period in December ends on Dec. 29; the next one, which is the end of the 2012 leave year, is Jan. 12. If you want the shortest break between your last paycheck and your first annuity payment, retiring Dec. 29 would be the better choice. If you waited until Jan. 12, you wouldn’t be on the annuity roll until February.

As for COLAs, if you retired Dec. 29, you’d be on the annuity roll in January and eligible for 11/12 of the COLA that would be payable in January 2014. If you retired on January 2013, the amount would be 10/12.

Regardless of which day you pick to retire, you wouldn’t receive a lump-sum payment for your unused annual leave until 2013.


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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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