Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Why keep the sick leave?

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Q. I will have 28.75 years with the Postal Service in FERS when I’m eligible to take the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority offered for Jan. 31. With half of my eight months of sick leave, I will have another four months credited to me. I will be 56 years old in January, so this is a real birthday present!

I understand that my FERS annuity will not be reduced because of the VERA. So, if my annuity is not reduced before I would retire with 30 years of service because of the VERA offer, is there any incentive to keep my sick leave before I retire?

Is that extra four months of leave advantageous to me in any way? Is retiring with 28.75 years any different from retiring with 29 years of service when an employee retires through a VERA? (I don’t plan to call in sick for the next few months. I just wondered if I still get “credit” for that accumulated sick leave).

A. I think you misunderstand what no reduction in your annuity means. It doesn’t mean that you’ll get the annuity you would have had if you’d worked for 30 years. It means that your annuity won’t be penalized by 5 percent per year for retiring before you reach age 62.

Your FERS annuity will be computed using your actual service plus half of your unused sick leave. It will only be half because you’ll be retiring before Jan. 1, 2014. Four months of sick leave would increase your annuity by 1/3 percent.

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