Retiring and skydiving: Do it right the first time

Retirement is one of those things that a lot of people only do one time. Like skydiving.

It either case — whether you are ending a career or checking off a bucket-list must-do item — it is really smart to get it right the first time.

This year, 2012, could be a near-record year for retirements. Applications were up 24 percent last year. Many think the dreaded retirement tsunami (first forecast in the last century) is upon us. A large number of buyouts last year and this year, plus the Postal Service downsizing, could easily overwhelm the already clogged retirement pipeline. Meaning it could be months more than you expected before you get your first full annuity payment.

For some people, the retirement date is easy. Leave at the end of the year. Or June 1. Leave in time for a long summer or fall vacation. Or to escape cold weather. Or start out the New Year as a retiree. Whatever … You pick a date and go.


But some people slice and dice their retirement date. They want to be sure there isn’t a gap between their last paycheck and the first annuity payment. Others want to get paid time off for one last federal holiday. Or pick the date that will let them carry over the maximum amount of unused sick leave. And minimize their taxes in the process.

The perfect date for you (and there probably is one) isn’t necessarily the one that’s best for a coworker, at the same grade level with the same amount of seniority.

So how to you know what’s the best date for you, or a friend?

Can you say Tammy Flanagan?

She’s a senior instructor with the National Institute of Transition Planning and a very popular Government Executive columnist. She “invented” the concept of the best-day-to retire. And there is one every month. A different one for different people. I’ve been copying and living off her research for years. And plan to continue doing so. Like today:

Tammy will be our lead-off guest on Your Turn, our radio show that begins at 10 a.m. EST. She’ll talk about why some dates are better than others, and tell you how to crunch your own numbers. Tammy will also discuss the little-known but lucrative Voluntary Contributions retirement plan that is available only to workers under the CSRS program. Lots of stuff.

Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.


By Jack Moore

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