Things to Consider Before Deciding When to Retire (or Enter DROP)

Date: Mar 11, 2022


A common question we get from our members is, “when should I retire/enter DROP?” Unfortunately, this is a question we cannot answer for you. What we can do is point out certain factors you should take into account when making this decision for yourself, but ultimately, it is a decision you must make on your own. Here are a few important considerations that may affect your decision:

  • COLA – the annual cost of living adjustment (“COLA”) applies to all retirees’ monthly pension benefit every July 1st and may increase your benefit up to 2%. Some members choose to retire on or before June 30th so that their benefit receives the COLA immediately after their retirement.

  • Annual Interest – on the flip side, some members wait to retire until after June 30th of a given year so that their contribution account receives the annual interest (currently 6.5%), which only applies to members who are not retired on July 1st. The additional interest added to a member’s COL Annuity and Surviving Spouse Annuity contributions may increase their initial benefit calculation even more than the COLA would have, had they retired before July 1st.

  • Salary Increases – did you recently receive a significant salary increase? If so, you may want to continue working and receiving that higher salary for a longer time period before retiring, so that the higher salary is factored into your benefit calculation. Remember, depending on your plan tier, the “Final Compensation” used to calculate your benefit is your highest pensionable salary averaged over either three years or 12 consecutive months. Therefore, if you retire shortly after receiving a raise, it won’t significantly increase your pension benefit.

  • Birthday – your retirement factor, another element of your pension benefit formula, is determined based on your plan tier and age at retirement, prorated in quarterly increments. When deciding on your retirement date, consider your exact age – for example, if your plan tier’s retirement factor increases between 60 and 61, and you retire when you are 60 years and 6 months old, the factor used in your benefit calculation will be slightly higher than what would be used if you retired at 60 years and 5 months old. (Note: Your quarter age is rounded down for the purposes of this calculation.)

 Of course, all of these considerations must be balanced by your personal circumstances and desires – such as the minimum post-retirement income you can comfortably live with and how much longer you want to continue working.

Document Under Categories: Retirement Resources