About half of all federal and postal workers who retire, do it either at the end of, or the beginning of, the year. For some it is a financial decision. By retiring in late December or early January, they can carry over the maximum amount of unused annual leave and get a tax break. Most, if not all, of the leave will be lumped into their retirement-income tax year. Also, if there is a pay raise (which there isn’t this year) most of that leave would be paid at the new, higher rate.
The number of December retirees is expected to be up for a variety of reasons. Some people — facing another year without a pay raise — decided it was time to pull the plug. Their high-three annuity calculation isn’t going anywhere and, for the first time in two years, people who were already retired got a 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment. Some figured they have a better chance of getting a raise (in the form of a COLA) retired than they do working.
Last year 18 federal agencies, from Agriculture, Air Force and the Army to the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service, offered limited buyouts. In most instances, workers had to be retired no later than early November to Dec. 31, 2011.
The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (which handles your Thrift Savings Plan) says the number of investors who are under the old CSRS retirement program declined last year. Some FERS employees also stopped investing. Some may have made hardship withdrawals (which preclude you from investing for six months) for college or Christmas. But many of them are probably people who simply retired. They may leave their money in the TSP but they can no longer contribute to it.
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So why do people chose to retire, or stay put. Here’s what some of your colleagues are saying:
So should you go or stay? And why? Our first guest on today’s (10 a.m.) Your Turn radio show is David Snell. He’s a former OPM official and now director of retirement services for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees. If you have comments or questions for him email me at email@example.com.
In the second half of the show we’ll talk with Stephen Losey and Sean Reilly from the Federal Times about what didn’t happen to feds last year, and why and whether the outlook for 2012 if grim, bright or more of the same.
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
By Jack Moore
Whale earwax continues to build up over time and usually doesn’t ever discharge. “This makes the amount of earwax in a whale’s ear proportional to its age,” according to MentalFloss. This is helpful because many whales do not have teeth — another common indicator of age in animals.
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