Best Dates to Retire - CSRS / FERS: 2014 and 2015
Previous columns on MyFederalRetirement.com discussed the best dates for CSRS
and FERS employees to retire during 2009 through 2014. This column discusses the
best dates for CSRS and FERS employees to retire during 2015, with an updated
discussion for best retirement dates during 2014.
Before presenting these dates, it is important to review some rules and
issues that employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
(including CSRS Offset employees) and employees covered by the Federal Employees
Retirement System (FERS) (including TransFERS* employees) should be aware of:
• Effective date of retirement and issuance of first annuity check.
CSRS employees (including CSRS Offset employees) who retire on the first,
second or third day of the month will have their retirement become effective on
the next day and their first retirement check will be dated the first day of the
next month. For example, if a CSRS or CSRS Offset employee retires Jan. 3, 2014,
then the employee's retirement becomes effective on Jan. 4, 2014 with the first
annuity check being dated Feb. 1, 2014. If a CSRS/CSRS Offset retires on the
fourth through the last day of a month, then the employee's retirement becomes
effective the first day of the following month with the first annuity dated the
first day of the month thereafter. For example, if a CSRS/CSRS Offset employee
retires on Jan. 11, 2014 (the end of the 2013 leave year at most federal
agencies), then the employee's retirement becomes effective Feb. 1, 2014 with
the first CSRS annuity check dated Mar. 1, 2014.
For FERS-covered employees, no matter which day in the month a FERS employee
retires, the employee's retirement becomes effective the first day of the
following month. The first annuity check will then be dated the first day of the
following month. For example, if a FERS-covered employee retires Jan. 11, 2014,
then the employee's retirement becomes effective Feb. 1, 2014 and the first
annuity check will be dated Mar. 1, 2014.
• Treatment of unused annual leave at the time of retirement.
All retiring employees are paid in a lump sum payment for any unused annual
leave hours on the day of their retirement. The lump sum payment will be
directly deposited into the same bank account that the employee's paychecks are
directly deposited in. Most agencies directly deposit the lump sum annual
payment within two to six weeks of the employee's retirement date. Many retiring
employees use their lump sum annual leave payment to pay their bills until they
receive their first full annuity check. The deposit of the first full annuity
check could take as long as three to eight months after the employee's
An employee must be in "employee status" for the entire last pay period of
work in order to accrue the full amount of annual leave hours for that last pay
period. An employee who retires before the end of a pay period (for most
employees, that is before the second Saturday of a pay period), will not accrue
any annual leave hours for the last pay period the employee worked. This assumes
that the employee has a Monday through Friday work schedule.
In selecting the best days to retire during 2014 and 2015, the issue of
accruing the full amount of annual leave hours for the last pay period worked
should be considered. Since most federal employees work a Monday to Friday 80
hour, bi-weekly payroll schedule, it is assumed that the best day of the week to
retire is a Saturday, the last day of the pay period. The first day of a new pay
period (which for most employees on a Monday to Friday work schedule) in which
the employee will no longer be in employed status, is also a good day to
• Treatment of unused sick Leave at the time of retirement.
Prior to a law change effective Oct. 28, 2009, only retiring CSRS and CSRS
Offset employees were eligible to add any unused sick leave hours to their
service time for the sole purpose of calculating their CSRS annuities. Note that
unused sick leave cannot be used for retirement eligibility purposes, however.
Unused sick leave is used only for CSRS or FERS annuity computation
purposes. Before Oct. 28, 2009, FERS employees did not receive credit for
unused sick leave. As a result, FERS employees who retired before Oct. 28, 2009
forfeited all of their unused sick leave hours as of the day of their
retirement. But the law changed effective Oct. 28, 2009 with Congress deciding
to "phase-in" the unused sick leave hours benefit for FERS employees. In
particular, those FERS employees who retire before Jan. 1, 2014 get credit for
50 percent of their unused sick leave hours as of the day of their retirement.
FERS employees who retire on Jan. 1, 2014 or later will get credit for 100
percent of their unused sick leave hours on the day of their retirement (like
CSRS/CSRS Offset employees).
With this information in mind, the following table presents the best dates
for CSRS and FERS employees to retire during 2014 and 2015. The dates presented
were selected under the following guidelines:
The dates selected in the table are determined from the Office of Personnel
Management's 2014 and 2015 leave year calendars:
* TransFERS employees are employees with at least five years of CSRS service who voluntarily transferred to FERS during one of the two FERS "open seasons" held in 1987-88 and 1998. Upon retiring, these employees receive both a CSRS annuity and a FERS annuity but follow FERS retirement eligibility rules even though they are also receiving a CSRS annuity.
service who voluntarily transferred to FERS during one of the two FERS "open
seasons" held in 1987-88 and 1998. Upon retiring, these employees receive both a
CSRS annuity and a FERS annuity but follow FERS retirement eligibility rules
even though they are also receiving a CSRS annuity.
About the Author
Edward A. Zurndorfer is a Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial
Consultant, Chartered Life Underwriter, Registered Health Underwriter,
Registered Employee Benefits Consultant and Enrolled Agent in Silver Spring, MD
-- and the owner of EZ Accounting and Financial Services, an accounting,
tax preparation and financial planning firm also located in Silver Spring,
MD. Zurndorfer is also is an instructor at federal employee
retirement seminars throughout the country and writes numerous columns and books
on federal employee benefits.