Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Using sick leave

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Q. I am a CSRS employee and have worked about 40 years. I plan to retire by the end of this year. I have about 1,659 hours of sick leave. How many hours of sick leave is equivalent to one service month, so I could plan to use the remaining sick leave and not lose it?

A. Let’s get one thing clear from the beginning. You have no right to burn off your sick leave. It may only be used for legitimate reasons spelled out in law and regulation. If you want a rough estimate of how many hours it takes to make a retirement month, use 174. Note: Annuities are based solely on years and full months of service, so there are usually some stray hours left over. Add those leftover hours of actual service to your hours of sick leave when doing the computation.

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Retirement benefits

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Q. I worked for the federal government from May 1985 to February 2005 as a FERS employee. My remaining annual leave was paid out to me, and I had more than 700 hours of accumulated sick leave. I moved all of my TSP contributions into another fund several years ago. As I plan for retirement, are there any retirement benefits I can receive or can I receive payment for sick leave? I saw in your column: “If you are already off the rolls, you can apply for a refund up to 31 days before your 62nd birthday.” That is fast approaching, and I wonder if there is anything I can recoup. Read the rest of this entry »

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Leave for school

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Q. I have been working for the government more than 20 years. Can I take leave without pay to go back to school full-time for nine months?

A. You can request LWOP. However, the decision to grant it is in your supervisor’s hands, as guided by agency policy. If what you study would increase your value to the agency, the chances of LWOP being granted would be greater than if it didn’t.

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Leave without pay

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Q. How much leave without pay in a calendar year can a United States Postal Service employee use without affecting the time going to their retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

Credit for unused sick leave

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Q. I am considering retiring at the end of this year. I am under CSRS and will have 41 years of service and at least 2,100 hours of unused sick leave when I leave. I’m told that in order for me to get the maximum 80 percent of my retirement, I must meet it in actual years of service and unused leave is not creditable toward that figure to make up the 1 year and 11 months. Is that true? What happens to the unused sick leave if I stay on and work 41 years and 11 months – do I lose that time since I max out at 80 percent? Read the rest of this entry »

Sick leave credit

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Q. Being a rehired annuitant who is receiving both his annuity and the full salary of his position, will I be paid out earned sick leave when I leave federal service? Read the rest of this entry »

Retirement funds

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Q. I was forced into applying for retirement, being on Workers’ Compensation and was “separated in 2002 with 25 years of service. I am 70 and still on Workers’ Compensation. I would like to withdraw my retirement lump-sum. Can  I still keep my life insurance that is deducted? I understand if Workers’ Compensation stops paying me, that I wont be allowed back on retirement if I do this. But I could not live on the amount anyway and I do need the money now. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sick leave

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Q. I have an estimate of 13 years, three months and eight days service credit. I have 43 hours of sick leave accrued. I’ll accrue 40 more by retirement. Would I be better off using them as needed for medical appointments as they will not add any time to service credit?

A. Assuming that your numbers are correct, those hours wouldn’t add up to the 174 needed to create an additional month and be used in your annuity computation.

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Lump sum for unused annual leave

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Q. How soon would I receive my lump sum payment for unused annual leave when I retire?

A. Only your agency payroll office can answer that question.

Service credit and sick leave

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Q. I am a FERS employee with 32 years of service credit. I was in CSRS for 5 years, 10 months and 28 days. I left the government but came back 3 years later as a FERS employee. When I retire I will have 28 days of CSRS service credit and 25 days of FERS Service Credit. Will 7 days of my excess sick leave (56 hours) be applied to my remaining days of 23 to give me an extra month toward retirement?

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Annual leave

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Q. When I ETS from the Army, I was allowed 30 days of terminal leave with the remainder of unused  annual leave a forced buyout. I had been unable to take leave due to the needs of the Army.

Because of that I lost almost a month of BAH, specialty pay, etc.

I was told at that time the federal government cannot force more than one buyout of unused annual leave during your federal career.

I am resigning from civilian federal service with a deferred retirement. Can they once again force a buyout of unused annual leave? Can they not allow me to take terminal leave?

A. No, they can’t. The comptroller general of the United States has ruled that federal civilian employees may not take terminal leave.

 

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Sick leave at retirement

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Q. Is there a limit to how much sick leave you can turn in at retirement?

A. If you mean is there a limit on how much unused sick leave can be used in the computation of your annuity after you meet the age and service requirement so to retire, the answer is no. There isn’t any limit.

Taking annual leave prior to retirement

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Q. I am planning to retire soon, and I want to take most of my leave before I retire. I would take six weeks of leave and come back for one day of work to sign out and turn in my computer, etc. So technically my annual leave will not be “terminal leave.” Is this legal, or is there some minimum time I must be back for work after taking all my leave? Read the rest of this entry »

Credit for annual and sick leave

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Q. I am currently planning on retiring on May 31, 2014. Will this allow me to me to get my full annual and sick leave earned during the preceding two weeks? Also, will it allow me to be on the annuity rolls starting in June 2014? I currently have 240 hours of annual leave computed through Jan. 11, 2014. Will this leave, along with any annual leave amassed from Jan. 12, 2014, through my retirement date, be combined for buyout purposes? I also will have 1,420 sick-leave hours earned, and I assume that it will be applied to my total longevity, bringing it up by approximately eight months. Read the rest of this entry »

Lump sum rate for unused annual leave

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Q. I have a question about determination of the amount I will be paid for unused annual leave. I was in a temporary promotion to DB-04 (GS-14 equivalent) NTE July 24, 2014. If I retire July 31, 2014, will I be paid for annual leave at the salary rate of the GS-14? Read the rest of this entry »

Voluntary FERS retirement and OWCP

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Q. I’m currently receiving Worker’s Comp. payments for a work related knee injury in July 2012. I’ve had two surgeries and tried numerous physical therapy sessions and the problem has only worsened. I’m in pain all the time. I haven’t returned to work since my injury. I told my doctor that I couldn’t keep up the therapy because it was too painful. My agency required a medical answer from my surgeon as to whether I was able to do anything. He stated that I was permanently incapacitated at this time. I was surprised my agency hadn’t separated me, and I was still on leave without pay. I told my doctor, boss and agency, I didn’t see any other way but to retire. I’m 57 with 17 years under FERS. If I take an immediate retirement, MRA + 10. Can I elect to continue my OWCP payments in leu of my OPM annuity until my injury is resolved through additional surgery i.e. knee replacement? Or, do I lose the compensation?

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Unused sick leave over 41 years 11 months CSRS service

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Q. I have over 41 years 11 months creditable service under CSRS. I also have unused sick leave to take me over the 80% max threshold. I used the chart to convert sick leave hours into months and days (rounding up). Does sick leave just get added to the credible service years, months and days, or is it done separately? Also if it is added to the credible service and the days are dropped, does that mean that I can potentially lose up to a month of sick leave days? If so, should I begin taking sick days when I need them, instead of using annual leave, so I don’t just lose them?
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Leaving federal service

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Q. I am a federal employee (FERS employee from January 1988 to the present) who will likely be leaving federal employment for a private sector position in a different city. What happens to the following:
1. Can I either leave my money in the TSP account or roll it over; in any case, I am not touching the balance until I retire.
2. Am I correct that my retirement annuity freezes until I actually retire and that it would be based on the following calculation — years of service (.26) x the average of the high-3 annual salary?
3. Do I get a lump sum payout for annual leave?
4. Can I get my sick leave back if I return to federal service?
5. I know health care terminates after 30 days. But am I eligible to get any Federal health care after I retire from the private sector?

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Sick leave

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Q. If an employee has sick leave to use or loose before retirement and has a medical appointment, can his or her supervisor disapprove the sick leave for a doctor’s appointment?
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Best retirement FERS date

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Q. I started Government employment Jan. 13, 2013, and I want to retire on my 62nd birthday Dec. 7, 2016, or should I wait till Jan. 13, 2017. Does it really make a difference? Read the rest of this entry »