If you are a federal employee who has contributed to the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) throughout your tenure, then you may be ready to leave public service and begin your CSRS retirement. Before you can do that, it is important to strategically plan your retirement date to maximize your benefits and start receiving your payments immediately.
CSRS retirement policies are different from employees on the FERS retirement plan. Focus on the advice for CSRS employees so you can file for retirement on the best days possible.
The First Three Days are the Best for CSRS Retirement
If there’s anything that CSRS employees should remember about filing for retirement, it’s that the first three days are the best to submit your forms.
- If you submit your retirement forms on the first three days of the month, then your official retirement date is set for the day after, and your first annuity check will be sent on the first day the month after.
- If you submit your retirement forms after the first three days, then your retirement will be set for the first day of the next month, and your first annuity check will be sent on the first day of the month after.
For example, if you set your CSRS retirement date on March 3rd, then the date will be set as March 4th. You will receive your first check on April 1st.
If you set your CSRS retirement date as March 4th, then the date will be set as April 1st. You will receive your first annuity check on May 1st.
You can see that missing the deadline by just one day can have a significant impact on when you receive your benefits. Some employees might have to wait almost two full months before receiving benefits instead of just a few weeks if they apply during the first three days.
If you’re not sure if you can get your application in during the first three days of the month, try to submit everything in the last days of the month to limit your wait time. That way, if you apply for retirement on March 30th, you only have to wait a day until April 1st.Missing the deadline for CSRS retirement by just 1 day can have a significant impact on when you receive your federal benefits.Click To Tweet
The Best Day to Retire to Accrue Unused Leave
Along with considering the first annuity check payment when you file for retirement, you also want to keep your unused paid leave in mind. Many employees ask about the best time to retire to still accrue unused leave — which will then be paid out to employees when they leave federal service.
The answer, at least for employees on a Monday-Friday bi-weekly pay schedule is the second Saturday of the pay period.
Additionally, some employees plan their retirement around the end of the old leave year and before the start of the new one. Filing for retirement before the end of the old leave year allows you to maximize the carryover from the previous year. It also leaves the new leave hours untouched. The goal is to receive the annuity check on February 1st to maximize paid leave. This means CSRS employees would need to apply for retirement before January 2rd to reap these benefits.
We created a guide for employees calculating their unused sick leave so they can see which credits they will receive. This can also help you plan your time off in the holidays to see what leave you should use.
You Set Your Retirement Date
It is important to note that you can set the exact date of your retirement. You do not have to follow any of these guidelines when you choose to finish your federal career. This information is purely advice to make sure you can maximize your federal benefits and receive the payments you need.
Entering retirement is an enjoyable time, but it’s also a time for balancing your budget and preparing for financial stability that can last for years. The average retirement length is 18 years, a number that can extend well beyond 30 years if you stay healthy. Furthermore, the average retirement age hovers around 61 for federal employees. The steps you take to prepare for retirement today can keep you going until you reach 100 and beyond.
What Else Should You Know About CSRS Retirement?
If you didn’t know that the first three days are the best for CSRS employees to retire, then there may be other tips and tricks about federal retirement that you’re missing.
Fortunately, we’re here to help. We want you to leave public service feeling confident about your financial future ahead. Let us help you make sure you have enough saved and can live comfortably as you pursue the next chapter of your life.
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