High-3 and retirement date


Q. I plan to retire at the end of the year under CSRS with 30 years of service. I received my last cost-of-living increase Jan. 3, 2010, which would be part of my high-3. Do I have to stay until Jan. 3, or can I retire Dec. 29 and still receive full credit for the cost-of-living increase toward my high-3? If I have to stay until Jan. 3, will I still get paid in my last check for my 439 hours of annual leave?

A. The 2012 leave year ends Jan. 12. If you want to be on the annuity roll in January, you’d have to retire no later than Jan. 3.

However, if you waited until Jan. 3, your first month’s annuity would be only 27/30ths of the full amount. Further, you wouldn’t get partial credit for sick or annual leave you would have earned if you’d completed the pay period. Therefore, retiring Dec. 29 would seem to make better sense.

As for your high-3, employees don’t get cost-of-living increases, only pay raises. Since your high-3 will be based on the average of your highest three consecutive years of basic pay, even if you stayed through the first pay period after a pay increase went into effect, it would affect only one of the 78 pay periods that go into that average.


About Author

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

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