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CSRS & FERS Retirement Eligibility

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Updated 7/6/2016


There are two primary federal retirement systems, the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). We discuss both options and show you how to determine your eligibility date. You may or may not be financially, emotionally, or physically prepared to retire on your eligibility date. Each person must evaluate their own unique personal situation before making this critical decision.

This section will help you determine when you are eligible and then visit the annuity page to determine what your monthly annuity payment will be when you leave. Explore the Phased Retirement option. Final rules were published in early August of 2014. 

Is It Your Time To Leave! 

Use our retirement cost analysis spreadsheet to determine exactly what you will have to live on in retirement and left over after paying your monthly bills. Two free reports are available for download; How to be Emotionally and Physically Prepared When You Retire and How to be Financially Prepared When You Retire. Share these free reports with others in your organization to help them prepare as well.

To determine when you first become eligible for either CSRS or FERS retirement use the Eligibility Menu on this page to get started. There is much more to consider with this life altering decision and we offer many planning tools on this site to help you decide if the time is right for you to leave. The sooner you start planning the better off you will be when you actually leave. If you have questions about unique eligibility issues not fully covered here visit our "Ask the Expert" section to talk with our benefits and finance experts. Linda Sherman, our Benefits and HR forum host, has 18 years experience in human resources and benefits and she also has an extensive finance background.  

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Eligibility Menu




Annuity Assistance 

The Best Date to Retire


Each year someone asks what the best retirement date is for the upcoming year. There isn’t one stock answer to this because of so many mitigating personal and regulatory factors and the significant differences between CSRS and FERS laws.

For the most part, voluntary CSRS retirements are best the first three days of the month and your annuity will start on the next day. If you retire on the 3rd of the month you will get paid through the 3rd and your annuity will start on the following day. Your first annuity check will be for a partial month, less the three days you worked. However, if you choose to leave on the 4th or later your annuity won't start until the first of the following month. The end of the month works best for FERS employees in many cases. Under the FERS system your retirement begins on the first day of the following month. This is also allowed for non-voluntary CSRS retirements.

You also need to consider your annual leave accrual and when your 80 hour work week ends. This way you might end up with additional annual leave to be paid out shortly after you leave. Then mix in your sick leave to determine how many months of additional time will count towards your total annuity calculation. If you turn in 2090 hours, a few hours over a full year, that will add a year to my annuity calculation. FERS employees will only receive a 50% credit if they retire before January 1, 2014 and the full conversion rate after that date.

Don’t confuse your “Annuity Start Date” with your “Date of Final Separation” that you list in block 2, Section B of either the SF-2801 CSRS Retirement Application or SF- 3107 FERS Retirement Application forms. Your retirement annuity starts the day after you separate even though your retirement commences at the close of Business on the "Date of Final Separation."

Unlike most personnel actions, retirements are always effective at the end of the work day. If you select Friday as your retirement date, and Friday is a scheduled workday, then the retirement is effective after your scheduled hours for Friday.  If you are a CSRS employee working Monday through Friday, and you are considering retirement dates of Friday the first, Saturday the second or a Sunday the third, Friday might be the best day to retire.  This is because Saturday and Sunday are your days off, so you do not receive pay for those days from your job. However, the annuity could begin on Saturday.

Additional Resources to help you select the best retirement date:


Leave Year Beginning & Ending Dates 2011 through 2020

The beginning and ending dates of leave years 2011 through 2020 shown below apply to most employees. However, some agency payroll systems use a different pay period schedule. Employees should contact their agencies to verify the beginning and ending dates of a particular leave year.


Leave Year

Leave Year
Beginning Date

Leave Year
Ending Date

Date for Scheduling
"Use or Lose"
Annual Leave


January 02, 2011

December 31, 2011

November 19, 2011


January 01, 2012

January 12, 2013

December 01, 2012


January 13, 2013

January 11, 2014

November 30, 2013


January 12, 2014

January 10, 2015

November 29, 2014


January 11, 2015

January 09, 2016

November 28, 2015


January 10, 2016

January 07, 2017

November 26, 2016


January 08, 2017

January 06, 2018

November 25, 2017


January 07, 2018

January 05, 2019

November 24, 2018


January 06, 2019

January 04, 2020

November 23, 2019


January 05, 2020

January 02, 2021

November 21, 2020


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