The Best Dates for Federal Employees in 2024
Deciding when to retire can be a pivotal decision for federal employees, and the choice of the retirement date can impact the financial aspects of their transition significantly. Among the myriad of options, one date stands out as a favorite among federal employees – December 31st. In this article, we’ll explore why this date is preferred and we’ll see the other strategic retirement dates for federal employees in 2024.
The December 31st Advantage
The consensus among federal employees is that December 31st is the optimal day to retire. This choice is closely tied to the accrual of annual leave, ensuring that employees receive the highest lump-sum payment for their accrued leave. The end of the year marks the cessation of annual leave accrual, making it an ideal time to retire and capitalize on unused leave.
However, the popularity of December 31st as a retirement date contributes to an annual surge in the backlog of retirement claims at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Federal employees aiming for this date should be mindful of potential delays in processing due to the high volume of retirement claims.
Strategic Timing Beyond December 31st
While December 31st is a favored retirement date, the end of any given month also holds strategic advantages. This is particularly true for Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) pension payments, which commence on the first day of the first month after retirement.
The accrual of leave concludes at the end of the last two-week pay period of the previous year. This means that retiring in the first few days of the new year could result in a higher accrued annual leave compared to retiring on December 31st. However, it’s important to note that the first retirement check won’t arrive until the first of February, necessitating careful financial planning.
Choosing the end of a two-week leave period is another strategic move, as annual leave is only accrued for that period if the full 80 hours for the week were worked. Ideally, retiring on a Friday that aligns with the end of the month and the conclusion of a two-week leave period is preferable. In 2024, there are only three such dates: May 31st, June 29th, and November 30th.
Guiding Retirement Dates
For those considering voluntary retirement annuities, the pension payments begin on the first day of the month following the month in which the federal employee meets age and service requirements. CSRS and CSRS-offset workers have a unique advantage, as the retirement date can extend into the first three days of the following month while still counting as if retired at the end of the prior month.
However, it’s essential to carefully evaluate the specific circumstances. Waiting an extra three days might be beneficial if those days fall on weekdays. Waiting for the third day of the month to be a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday can increase the retiree’s last paycheck while minimizing the reduction in the first pension check.
Best Dates for Federal Employees to Retire in 2024:
Taking into consideration all the factors discussed, here are the best dates for federal employees to retire in 2024:
1. December 31, 2024
2. May 31, 2024
3. November 30, 2024
4. January 11, 2025
Choosing the right retirement date involves a careful balancing act between maximizing financial benefits and navigating bureaucratic processes. While December 31st remains a popular choice, federal employees should consider alternative dates based on individual circumstances and goals. By understanding the nuances of accruals, pension payments, and leave periods, employees can commence on their retirement journey with greater financial confidence.