The 30-day rule

Further proof that nothing in government is simple. For example:

At some point in our youth, most of us probably learned the mnemonic (don’t feel bad, I had to look it up too!) rhyme about how many days are in each month. One version goes like this:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have 31,
Except February alone… blah blah, blah!

You get the idea. But it was a good way to learn how many days are in each month.


Unless you work for the federal government. Then, all bets are off. Because…

The thing is Uncle Sam never learned the 30-days-hath September ditty. So to him, every month is the same 30 days whether its June, January or February and a leap year.

That every-month-has-30-days rule is important when it comes to figuring your retirement benefit. And that is one thing that makes finding the best date for you to retire a little tricky.

Yesterday’s Your Turn radio show featured Tammy Flanagan. She’s the senior benefits director for the National Institute of Transition Planning. One of the many things she does is figure the best dates to retire throughout each year. Some are the same, sometimes they change. And to make the most of your retirement, once you are otherwise ready to go, you need to know the best date or dates. Then you make the call.

The fact that the government uses a 30-day retirement month, regardless of what month it is, figures into the best-date equation. OPM pays retirement benefits based on a 30-day month, so Flanagan says, “each month of retired pay equals 30.30 of your benefit amount.” So if you retired next month on Feb. 28, which is a Friday, “you’d be credited with three additional days of service” meaning that February, to Uncle Sam and to your pension, would be a 30-day month.

There are different best dates for people retiring under the old CSRS program vs. those retiring under the FERS plan.

If you are retiring under the CSRS system, Flanagan said your best date is often the first, second or third day of the month.

If you will be retiring under FERS, the best date is often the last calendar date of the month.

If you are planning to retire in December or January (both popular months), you need to be aware of the date of the end of the leave year. Because of the annual leave carryover limit.

Here’s a link to Tammy’s column on GovExec for more helpful tips.

Click here to listen to a replay of the Your Turn show any time from your computer.


Compiled by Jack Moore

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