There has been some confusion around the “Best Date to Retire ” and Gary, who is planning on retiring on December 31, 2011, asked for clarification on this issue. He has over 240 hours of annual leave to cash in and was concerned about the “Date of Final Separation” that you enter on your retirement forms and the “Official Retirement Date.” This is critical this year because the official leave year  ends 12/31/2011.
If you intend to leave at the end of 2011 consider December 31 for your retirement application’s “Date of Final Separation,” especially for those who wish to sell back the maximum amount of accumulated annual leave. If you retire by this date you will receive full payment for accumulated annual leave over 240 hours up to the maximum allowable. The “Date of Final Separation” is your last day of work; retirement starts at the close of business (COB) that same day. If you plan to leave after December 31 this year, and will have over 240 hours of annual leave on the books, schedule and use your excess annual leave before you retire. Review the Use or Lose Annual Leave Scheduling Date Chart  to determine when you must schedule your excess leave. Use our 2011 and 2012 Leave and Schedule Charts  to select several tentative retirement dates for the annuity estimates that you should request from HR a year in advance of your planned departure 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.”
Retirement Planning Timeline and Assistance
There is much to consider before you leave and fortunately there are many helpful organizations , web sites,  articles  and free reports  to help you make informed decisions. Comprehensive retirement planning articles are offered by our Forum Hosts  and we often link to other services articles and official OPM regulations for comprehensive in depth guidance. Click on the following links for retirement planning information that will help you plan your exit:
- How do I get started? 
- Is it your time to retire? 
- What to do starting a year before you retire  (Updated retirement timeline)
- What to expect from OPM the first three months after you leave  (Updated)
- How to pick the best date for your retirement .
Tammy Flanagan, the Senior Benefits Director for the National Institute of Transition Planning, Inc., wrote two highly informative articles on how to evaluate retirement estimates. They are a must read for anyone who is approaching retirement and they emphasize the importance of this critical step. Take a few minutes to read the following two articles:
We link to all of Tammy’s articles on our Resource page  under the heading of “Helpful Associations / Organizations / Publications.”
Last month the G and F funds had small gains, 0.19% and 1.45% respectively. The I fund was the biggest looser dropping 9.03%. The good news is that over the past twelve months all funds have gains ranging from a low of 2.6% for the G Fund to a high of 22.84% for the S Fund. The C fund was a close second with a gain of 18.46%.
The market is highly volatile now due to the depressed economic outlook here and abroad. My last article titled TSP Panic  discussed how to weather the storm and provided some insight into preparing for times like these. The market’s meteoric rise highlighted the need for caution months ago. With Congress deadlocked on the budget and unemployment at historic highs the markets may remain highly volatile for some time.
Long term investors, federal employees in their early to mid careers are typically advised to remain invested in equity funds balanced between sectors such as what the L Funds do automatically. Those approaching retirement, that will need their TSP funds to maintain their standard of living, should be cautious as my last article addressed.
Many financial planners expect a rocky road ahead until governments worldwide get serious about addressing their national debt issues, balance their budgets, and put people back to work.
Learn more about your benefits , employment , travel , and financial planning issues  on our site and visit our Blog frequently at https://fedretire.net  to read all forum articles.
Request a Retirement Benefits Summary Analysis  from a local independent adviser. A sample analysis  is available for your review. This service is not affiliated with the author, www.federalretirement.net or Bookhaven Press LLC.
Visit our other informative sites
- Federal Government Jobs & Career Center 
- FREE Federal Employee’s Retirement Planning Guide 
- Federal Retiree Job Opportunities 
- Federal Employee & Retiree BLOG 
- Federal Employee’s Career Development & IDP Center 
- Post Office Jobs & Career Center 
- Job Search – All Sectors 
- Environmental Health & Safety Job Center 
- High Paying Nuclear Jobs & Careers 
- Stolen Car Plates & Recovery Guide 
- Educational Opportunities 
- Take Charge of Your Federal Career  (A Career Planning Workbook)
- The Book of U.S. Government Jobs  (How to Apply for Federal Jobs)
The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and financial information is subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact your benefits coordinator and ask them to review your official personnel file and circumstances concerning this issue. Retirees can contact the OPM retirement center. Our articles are not intended nor should they be considered investment advice. Our reply is time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.
Last 5 posts by Dennis Damp
- Interim Retirement Checks & Retirement Application Processing Delays  - January 24th, 2020
- 1099R Tax Forms Available NOW!  - January 22nd, 2020
- Notice of Annuity Adjustment and 1099 R Tax Forms  - January 11th, 2020
- 3.1% GS 2020 Pay Raise – Pay Charts Now Available  - December 30th, 2019
- Safety, Health & Convenience – The Apple Watch Connection  - December 14th, 2019
- BCBS Basic to GEHA Standard Comparison + Medicare & You  - November 29th, 2019
- Open Season Health Plan Review & Changes  - November 24th, 2019
- The Ultimate Retirement Planning Guide – Start Now!  - November 15th, 2019
- 2020 FEHB Plan Selection Guide  - October 30th, 2019
- Open Season Precautions – Fraud Alert  - October 24th, 2019
- 2020 COLA and Annuity Projection Calculator Update  - October 12th, 2019
- 2020 Leave Chart & Schedule Tracker Now Available  - October 6th, 2019