More federal employees retire on December 31st than any other day of the year. This has to do with the accrual of annual leave and making sure you get the highest lump-sum payment possible for your use or lose annual leave. This also leads to a significant increase in OPM’s backlog of retirement claims, resulting in potential delays in the adjudication process, which can sometimes last for several months beyond your separation date. The last day of the month is a preferred date to retire from federal service because the first FERS or CSRS pension payment starts on the first day of the first month after the month in which a federal employee retires, resulting in the initial interim pension check the following month.

The accrual of leave stops for the year when the last two-week pay period of the previous year ends. If you were to retire on January 6, 2030, you could still reach your maximum amount of accrued annual leave (240 hours for most federal employees) and get an additional three days of regular pay than if you retired on December 31, 2029. See the OPM website for additional info.

Besides the end of the year, or at the end of the month, you should try to retire at the end of a two-week leave period because annual leave will only get accrued for the last leave period if the full 80 hours for that week were worked. If you retire on a Friday that is also at the end of the month and the end of a 2-week leave period that would be ideal, but there are only three such dates in 2024: May 31st, June 29th, and November 30th.

Your initial interim pension check from your voluntary FERS retirement will begin on the first day of the month after the month in which you have reached your age and service requirements. If you are a CSRS or CSRS-offset federal employee, the retirement date can extend into the first three days of the following month and will still count as if you retired at the end of the prior month. (For example, retiring on February 2nd will have the same effect on leave and pay as retiring on January 31st and your CSRS pension will start in the month of February. Waiting for the potential extra three days may make sense if all three of those days are workdays, not weekends. This is because if two of the first three days of the month fall on a weekend, this will reduce your first pension check by 1/10th (3/30th) while only increasing the retiree’s last paycheck by just one day’s worth of salary. If the third day of the month is a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, then waiting those extra days might be worth it, because you will get credit for the three workdays in your final paycheck (LES). Regardless of what day you choose to retire, you will get credit for each day you’ve worked, including holidays.

Best Dates To Retire Next Year

December 31, 2024

May 31, 2024

November 30, 2024

January 11, 2025

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