Timing is Everything: The Best Dates to Retire in 2024

Dec 1, 2023 | Retirement Planning

If you are a federal employee planning your retirement in 2024, choosing the right date is important for maximizing benefits and ensuring a smooth transition into the next phase of life. Selecting the right retirement date can significantly impact your financial future and overall retirement experience. Let’s explore the key factors and considerations that make certain dates in 2024 stand out as optimal choices for embarking on the next chapter of your life.

Understanding the Basics

Before diving into specific dates, it’s important to understand the basic framework of federal retirement. The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) have different rules and guidelines, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the specifics of your retirement plan. Having said that, the last day of the month is typically a preferred date for FERS employees to retire.  The first interim FERS pension payment should start about six weeks after their retirement date.  OPM doesn’t move at lightning speed though, and interim payments are typically 60–80% of your estimated net annuity. 

Consideration of Leave Balances

Another important factor to consider is your accrued leave balances. Choosing a retirement date that allows you to maximize your unused leave can provide you with additional financial benefits. The accrual of annual leave balances means individuals often choose December 31st as their retirement date (because the leave year usually ends the first week in January), making sure they get the highest lump-sum payment possible.  But, be aware that because so many people choose this date, there is a higher likelihood that you will experience delays with OPM’s backlog of paperwork.

In addition to considering the traditional options of retiring at the end of the year or end of the month, aiming to retire at the conclusion of a two-week leave period can be strategically beneficial. This is because annual leave accrues only if the full 80 hours for that week are worked. Optimal retirement planning involves selecting a Friday that aligns with both the month-end and the conclusion of a two-week leave period. However, it’s noteworthy that there are limited opportunities for such ideal retirements in 2024, with only three viable dates: May 31st, June 29th, and November 30th.

Social Security Timing

For those eligible for Social Security benefits, the age at which you start receiving payments can significantly affect the amount you receive. Consider how your chosen retirement date aligns with your Social Security strategy. Waiting until full retirement age or even delaying beyond can result in increased monthly benefits.  Remember though, Social Security is a monthly income benefit that’s payable while you’re alive.  The difference between turning it on at age 62 vs. age 70 is eight years of monthly payments.

Health Insurance Transition

Navigating the transition from federal employee health insurance to Medicare requires careful planning. Choosing a retirement date that facilitates a smooth shift in coverage can save you from potential gaps in healthcare protection. Understand the timing of enrollment and coverage changes to make an informed decision.

Financial Market Considerations

While timing the financial markets perfectly is nearly impossible, it’s worth considering the overall economic climate when planning your retirement. Consulting with a financial advisor can provide insights into market conditions and help you make informed decisions about your retirement portfolio.

Tax Implications

The tax consequences of your retirement date should also be on your radar. Understanding how your income in retirement will be taxed and planning accordingly can help you optimize your financial situation.

Pension Calculations

For CSRS and FERS employees, the date you retire can impact your pension calculations. Knowing the intricacies of the formula used to determine your pension can help you choose a date that maximizes your benefits.

Personal Considerations

Beyond the financial aspects, consider your personal circumstances. Do you have specific plans or goals for retirement that align with certain dates? Are there family considerations or lifestyle preferences that could influence your decision?

Choosing the best date to retire in 2024 requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. By considering the factors mentioned, you can make a well-informed decision that sets the stage for a fulfilling retirement. Remember to consult with your HR department, financial advisor, and other experts to ensure a smooth transition into this new chapter of life.

Looking for assistance in choosing the best date for your retirement? We can help!

If you are looking for a guide through the retirement process, Benchmark Financial Group can help. It all starts with gathering your information, discussing your goals, and preparing a plan so that we may help you maximize your income in retirement. With the right strategy, you may get your income equal to or exceed your pre-retirement net income. To get started, schedule an appointment today with Benchmark Financial Group by filling out the form online or calling David Raetz at 913-534-8256 to discuss your financial needs. Benchmark Financial Group is happy to help you navigate your options and determine the best path to move toward your financial goals.

*Securities and Advisory Services Offered Through CreativeOne Securities, LLC  Member FINRA/SIPC and an Investment Advisor.  Benchmark Financial Group, LLC and CreativeOne Securities, LLC are not affiliated.

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