Reg Jones Expert's View

The end of the year is just around the corner and I’m getting that question again. You know the one. What’s the best date to retire? Some years that’s easy because the leave year ends on the same day as the calendar year. Sadly, that won’t happen again until 2021. That means you’re stuck with a 2014 leave year that ends on January 10, 2015.

So, what’s a retiree-eligible employee to do? The answer depends on which retirement system you are in.

If you are a FERS employee, you have to retire no later than the last day of a month to be on the annuity roll in the following month. Therefore, you could retire no later than December 31 and be on the annuity roll on January 1. If you are a CSRS employee, you could retire up to the third day in a month and be on the annuity roll in that same month. Therefore, you could retire up to January 3, 2015 and still be on the annuity roll in January. However, if you did that you would lose 1/30 of that first month’s annuity for every day you are still on the payroll.

And there’s one more factor to consider. For most agencies, the last pay period in 2014 ends on December 27. If you work past that date to December 31 (FERS) or January 1, 2 or 3 (CSRS), you’ll earn some additional salary, but you won’t get credit for any annual or sick leave you would have earned during those few days. You have to complete a pay period to get that.

Still, because the leave year doesn’t end until January 10, 2015, you’ll get a lump-sum payment for all your unused annual leave, including any leave that exceeds the annual carryover limit. And, in case you didn’t know it, your hours of annual leave are projected forward as if you were still on the rolls. Assuming there’s a pay increase in 2015—and it looks virtually certain there will be a 1 percent boost—any hours of annual leave will be paid at the highly hourly rate once the raise goes into effect on January 11, 2015.