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Federal Employees Benefits Q &A

Do you have questions about your federal employee CSRS or FERS pension/annuity or federal employee retirement planning? Concerns about your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account or what about federal employee pay and leave issues?

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The Q&A forum is moderated by Ed Zurndorfer -- an expert on federal employee benefits -- and a Certified Financial Planner, chartered life underwriter and chartered financial consultant in Maryland.

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mc0111  
#1 Posted : Sunday, December 31, 2017 11:15:00 AM(UTC)
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I am a USPS postal worker (FERS) and will be retiring next year, as I will turn 60 in August and have many more than 20 years in. So I have been researching "best dates to retire" articles, and read your article in myfederalretirement .com with great interest. Your "best dates" for FERS are always Saturdays (with the exception of Dec. 31), and the last day of a pay period, and near the end of the month (usually last 3 days) in order to qualify as a "best date to retire". I am assuming "best dates to retire" means your last official day of still being a government employee, hopefully I am right there.

One big question I have is related to one line in your article which says-- "The dates shown in the table below were determined based on OPM's 2017, 2018 and 2019 leave year calendars used by most federal agencies." Federal government calendars have the pay period ending on a Saturday-- but USPS pay periods always end on a Friday, not a Saturday.

So my question is: since USPS pay periods always end on a Friday, not a Saturday, would this not change the "best dates to retire" , for postal workers, slightly (and possibly add a few)? For example, this last March 31 (of 2017) was a Friday, the last day of a USPS pay period, last day of the month, so would that not have been a "best date", for postal workers? Or-- Aug. 31, 2018, is also a Friday, last day of pay period, last day of the month. That is the day I am interested in. Looking ahead a couple years, a quirk of the calendar in 2020 has 3 of these dates.

So, what do you think of Aug. 31, 2018 as a "best date" for USPS FERS workers to retire?

Thank you Ed for all of your help!
Ed Zurndorfer  
#2 Posted : Monday, January 01, 2018 7:13:54 AM(UTC)

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As a Postal Service employee, if your 80 hour pay period ends on the second Friday of the pay period (rather than on the second Saturday of the pay period which is true for most Federal employees), then retiring on the second Friday of a pay period makes sense. That means if August 31, 2018 (which is a Friday) is the second Friday of the pay period and assuming you are at least age 60 and have a minimum of 20 years of service, then retiring that day makes sense.
thanks 1 user thanked for this useful post.
mc0111 on 1/1/2018(UTC)
mc0111  
#3 Posted : Monday, January 01, 2018 8:43:27 AM(UTC)
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Thank you Ed! Just wanted to make sure I was thinking correctly, that the last day of the pay period made a difference to the dates. I will pass this info on. Thanks again!
Ed Zurndorfer  
#4 Posted : Monday, January 01, 2018 9:34:17 AM(UTC)

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You are most welcome.
Sloweymicdoughey  
#5 Posted : Sunday, January 28, 2018 5:29:41 AM(UTC)
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I am considering retirement on December 31 of this year, which is a Monday, and January 1st the holiday is obviously Tuesday my retirement day and scheduledo layoff day. Do I have to work on the 31st or is it my holiday? I am USPS.
Ed Zurndorfer  
#6 Posted : Sunday, January 28, 2018 5:48:34 AM(UTC)

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You do not have to come to work on the day that you retire. If you intend to retire on Dec. 31, 2018 (Monday), then you do not have to work that day and your retirement becomes effective Jan. 1, 2019 with your first CSRS or FERS annuity check due Feb. 1, 2019.
Sloweymicdoughey  
#7 Posted : Sunday, January 28, 2018 6:06:02 AM(UTC)
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Thank you!
Ed Zurndorfer  
#8 Posted : Sunday, January 28, 2018 6:10:06 AM(UTC)

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NoPivot  
#9 Posted : Sunday, January 28, 2018 7:55:57 AM(UTC)
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If I'm not mistaken one thing to keep in mind for firs employees is the "best" date to retire is the last day of any month. This affects when you'd get your first check.

I.e., if you retire on 1/31, your first check would be 3/1. However say you retire on any day besides the last of the month, per the previous example, say you retire on 2/10 instead.
Instead of your first check being 3/1 it would be 4/1. In other words, instead of one month before your first check, you would have to wait 1 month and 18 days (2/10 - 2/28, plus the month of March).

That's why a fers employee should retire on the last day of a month, regardless of pay period status.

Hope this makes sense, and is correct !
Ed Zurndorfer  
#10 Posted : Sunday, January 28, 2018 3:36:20 PM(UTC)

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You are absolutely correct, and thank you for your input into this forum.
roythomasbaker  
#11 Posted : Sunday, January 28, 2018 8:46:28 PM(UTC)

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Ed, regarding your statement above that "..you do not have to come to work on the day that you retire." Wouldn't you still have to call in, as you normally would during employment?

I ask, out of curiosity, because on my last day I simply called in sick mostly to avoid the "last day" recognition silliness.
Ed Zurndorfer  
#12 Posted : Monday, January 29, 2018 3:18:18 AM(UTC)

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Why do you have to "call in"? Once again, if you have elected to retire on a particular day, then you are not required to come to work that day. Suppose an employee is scheduled to retire on a Saturday, Sunday or a Federal holiday? How would the employee "call in" to tell his or her agency he or she is retiring?
mc0111  
#13 Posted : Friday, February 09, 2018 7:16:04 AM(UTC)
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Ed, can you answer one followup question? There is some confusion as to if someone can actually work their "best retirement date".
Specifically, if Friday (last day of pay period, last day of month) 8-31-18 is a good retirement date, can it also be a "last-punch day", a day actually worked, for a FERS postal employee? Some believe you cannot work your "retirement date" if it's the last day of the month, without that causing a 1 month delay in getting your benefit. Hopefully this is clear. Can you clear this up? Thank you very much for all your help!
Ed Zurndorfer  
#14 Posted : Friday, February 09, 2018 8:07:26 AM(UTC)

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USPS employees have to check with their Personnel Office to find out whether they can work on the day they retire. If they cannot, then a Postal Service employee who intends to retire on Fri. Aug. 31, 2018 cannot retire that day. They would have to retire the next (Saturday Sept. 1, 2018) assuming that is not a work day for that employee. But the problem of retiring Sept. 1, 2018 is that the FERS retirement would not become effective until Oct. 1, 2018 and the first annuity check would not be issued until Nov. 1, 2018.
mc0111  
#15 Posted : Saturday, February 10, 2018 7:31:31 AM(UTC)
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Thank you, Ed. I will call Shared Services (our HR) on Monday. I guess the question is, when actually does the retirement, the last day of being still an employee, actually happen? At the close of business on the last day that you work ("last punch day" as some call it), or, the day after the last day that you work, which if that is the first of the next month would delay your pension another month!

Depending on what Shared Services says, maybe Thurs. Aug. 30 would be better to have as my last day of actually working-- yes, I would lose the AL and SL for that pay period, but my pension would not be delayed another month because somehow I'm still on the books on Sept. 1...I will see what they say.
Ed Zurndorfer  
#16 Posted : Saturday, February 10, 2018 4:18:40 PM(UTC)

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You are most welcome.
mc0111  
#17 Posted : Monday, February 12, 2018 1:40:12 PM(UTC)
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Ed, just to follow up, I just called Shared Services and they told me that, yes, I can actually work on the last day of the month (have the last day of the month be my "last punch day") and that would be my retirement date, and the pension would commence the next day (Sept. 1), payable the following month (October). Then I was told the exception would be if my schedule was such that my regular work schedule started after 8 p.m. If that was the case, after 8 p.m. is considered Tour 1, which is actually the next day officially, so if I worked that day starting after 8 p.m., then there would be a problem. But that is not the case with me so I should be ok.

Thank you so much for all your help!
Ed Zurndorfer  
#18 Posted : Monday, February 12, 2018 4:52:50 PM(UTC)

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So glad things are working out for you, and good luck in your upcoming retirement effective September 1, 2018!
thanks 1 user thanked for this useful post.
mc0111 on 2/13/2018(UTC)
MDKidd  
#19 Posted : Wednesday, April 18, 2018 6:27:26 AM(UTC)
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One more follow up on this topic .... Why is Dec 31 considered a "best date" when it is in the middle of a pay period? Why not Dec 22 (the last day of the last pay period of the year) for non-postal FERS employees? Retiring on either of these dates (or for that matter - any date between Dec 22 and Dec 31), a retiree will still receive his first annuity check Feb 1, and will still receive the same sick and annual leave payouts. And I am assuming that as long as the retiree retires on any date after the last pay period (in this case, Dec 22), he will receive the annual leave lump sum at the next year's rate (i.e. with any cost of living raise added in). In addition, if I'm not mistaken, this final 9 days does not get added to the final 3 average formula. So as far as I can tell, the only additional benefit to delaying the retirement 9 more days in this particular case, is the additional 9 days of pay. Am I missing something else?
Ed Zurndorfer  
#20 Posted : Wednesday, April 18, 2018 1:12:47 PM(UTC)

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By working the additional 9 days and retiring on Dec. 31, the employee: (1) Is closer to the date he or she receives the first FERS annuity check and receives 9 days worth of salary; and (2) Is able to contribute more to the TSP.
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