By Reg Jones
September 29th, 2014 | Sick leave
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.
September 25th, 2014 | Sick leave
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 »
August 13th, 2014 | Disability retirement
Q. I retired on FERS disability on Dec. 6, 2010, at age 53 with 21 years of federal service. I had 1,050 hours of sick leave. In May 2014, I returned to federal service in a virtual job that I work from home. OPM has not found me recovered.
1. Because my sick leave was not used in the calculation of my annuity (I retired under 62 years of age), should all my sick leave be restored?
2. The new hiring agency has offset my salary by my annuity and is deducting retirement. Should the agency use the old rate (.8 percent) or the new rate (4.4 percent), since my original hire date was in 1989?
3. What happens when I retire a second time? My agency tells me that I will get two annuity checks if I work less than five years and my retirement will be recalculated if I work more than five years? Read the rest of this entry »
July 21st, 2014 | Sick leave
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.
Q. I am 51 and was born in 1961. I work in FERS. My MRA, I believe, is 56. I have 28 years in federal service. Will I get an annuity if I retire now before my MRA? If I do get an annuity, how big a reduction will it be from the pension I would get if I retired at 56?
Also, I have seven months of sick leave. Do I lose it all when I retire, or does it get applied as service credit?
July 2nd, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. Recent legislation entitles FERS-eligible employees to have sick leave credited to their time in service: 50 percent until 2013 and 100 percent in 2014. At the same time, FERS annual leave hours past 240 are not lost but paid in full in completing your last year of employment.
Can you clarify that if you retire Jan. 1, 2014, you lose the hours in excess of 240? (I was informed by an HR employee that if you don’t retire Dec. 31, your hours in excess of 240 are not paid even if you retire the next day, Jan. 1 — I have my doubts.)
But if you didn’t and retired Dec. 31, you would lose 50 percent of your sick leave.
I have four months of accrued sick leave, whereas I would have about $20,000 in unused annual leave paid if I retired Jan. 1.
If the information from HR is true, I would have to choose between losing 50 percent of my 700 hours of accrued sick leave for retiring before Jan. 1, 2014, and losing more than 240 hours.
What is the better financial decision? Accruing four months of time in service and losing all my leave in excess of 240 or taking the full lump sum and getting credit for only two months?
June 25th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am a FERS employee and was hired in January 1984. I will reach MRA (56) with 31½ years of service in early July 2015.
What is the best day for me to retire in 2015 to get credit for the most annual and sick leave?
June 25th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I’m a FERS employee thinking of retiring at the end of 2014.
I’ll be 65, and with time served, military and sick leave (barring any lengthy illness between now and then), I’ll have 29 years, plus a couple of months. I know I’ll be losing some benefits from Social Security, leaving a year early, but what would the loss be from leaving before the 30-year mark?
June 12th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. After serving 12 years in the military, I went to work for the federal government Jan. 13, 1982, and left federal service in October 1987, having served five years and nine months. I was in CSRS that entire time. I withdrew my CSRS contributions when I left. I came back to work for the federal government in July 2006 and was placed in CSRS Offset, with the option of going into FERS. I opted to be in CSRS Offset. At that time, I paid the deposit plus interest to get credit for my military time for pension purposes. I read the “Ask the Experts” response of March 30, 2010, where it said that as of Jan 1, 1987, any current employee with fewer than five years of service under CSRS was automatically converted to FERS. On Jan. 1 1987, I was 13 days short of five years, although I had previous military time and more than 13 days of annual leave and sick leave on the books. The “Ask the Experts” answer of Jan. 18, 2012, seems to say that I was correctly placed in CSRS Offset. Other pamphlets I read say you need five years as of Jan 1, 1987. I was 13 days short, excluding military time. I think my military time counted because my service computation date is in 1969.
Now I am concerned that my agency might have placed me incorrectly into CSRS Offset and I might be in for a surprise when I retire. Am I correctly in CSRS Offset? Do I need to take any action?
Q. I started working for the federal government March 10, 1975. If I retire Dec. 31, 2015, by my calculations, I will have 40 years, nine months and 21 days.
Right now I have 1,142 hours of sick leave but have no idea how many I will have when I retire. Will any of that be counted toward year and months of service? I’m only a GS 7, step 10, so I need to know what percentage of my retirement pay I would get. My high-3 is more than $50,400 with locality pay. I understood that where you are living and getting locality pay would be figured toward the annuity. If they change our retirement to the high-5, in two years I will still be at the same salary.
Q. I was a nonappropriated funds government employee from 1979 to 1990 holding UA7, UA8 and UA9 positions (AAFES and Army NAF). I resigned in 1990 and have worked in the private sector since.
Now I plan to return to federal government employment as a GS5 or GS7.
How will my service time count toward retirement, and is it possible to repay my NAF pension funds into the system? Also, how will my accrued sick leave be handled?
Q. I work for USPS under FERS. On Feb. 4, 2015, I will be 57 and have 30 years of service. I will also have approximately six months of sick leave. Can I use my sick leave as days worked and retire six months earlier?
Q. After 35 years with the federal government, I retired Feb. 29, 2012.
During my last full pay period, I used 16 hours of sick leave. I discovered after a call from OPM recently that a correction to my final sick leave balance was made by my former employing agency, modestly increasing my sick leave balance. OPM informed me today that after the correction, my sick leave balance was six hours short of the number of hours needed to bring my total creditable working hours up by one more full month.
After hearing this, I realize that had I used six hours LESS sick leave (instead of 16 hours) in my last full pay period in pay status, and used just 10 hours of sick leave plus six hours of annual leave for the time I took off during that last full pay period, I would have had enough creditable work hours to complete another full month toward the calculation of my annuity.
My question to you now is whether or not leave I used in my last full pay period can be recharacterized almost a year since retiring because that would initiate another updated correction to my sick leave balance, which would be forwarded to OPM via the National Finance Center, and subsequently permit a recalculation of my final annuity amount.
I was paid a lump sum for unused annual leave a few weeks after retiring but would gladly reimburse the agency for six of those hours if possible if a correction to my time and attendance report for the last full pay period could be done, allowing for a recharacterization of leave I used during my last full pay period, which would increase my annuity, even if only a little.
Q. I am a FERS transferee with more than 29 years in federal service.
When I transferred from CSRS to FERS in 1998, I had 103 hours of sick leave (under CSRS). I am planning to retire in 2014 and will have almost 1,700 hours of sick leave. I am being told that the only sick leave I will get credit for as a FERS transferee is the 103 hours of sick leave that was on the personnel action when I transferred — not the almost 1,700 hours of sick leave that have accumulated since. Can this be correct?
Q. I was injured in September 2010 and was out of work until I retired on disability in March 2011. I exhausted my annual and sick leave, since my initial workers’ compensation claim was denied.
After numerous appeals, my workers’ compensation claim was approved in October 2011. I began receiving interim retirement payments in September 2011 but have yet to receive payment from OPM for annual and sick leave I would have accumulated during that period. I have contacted DFAS and OPM, along with filing two congressionals regarding this issue, but no resolution.
Shouldn’t I be paid for the time I would have been on workers’ compensation? Shouldn’t OPM pay the lump sum after receiving notification that my workers’ compensation claim was approved? I have contacted OPM, and it seems to lack adequate professionals to decipher this mess.
Q. May a federal employee retire with all earned benefits while on sick leave, or must he return to work for a specified amount of time?
Q. As a FERS rehire, I know that I will get my previous sick leave reinstated, but at what rate? The new rate or at the rate at which I earned it?
Q. I’ve been in CSRS since Feb. 10, 1975, and I turned 65 in January.
1) Which day, in late leave year 2015, would be the best day to retire?
2) What should be my schedule for submitting retirement documents?
Q. I understand that credited sick leave will not influence how the high-3 is calculated. But will credited sick leave count toward annuity calculation in meeting age or service requirements to receive the 1.1 percent factor? If a person has 19 years and six months day-for-day in FERS and adds/applies eight months of unused sick leave, will this qualify for the 1.1 percent calculation factor (high-3 x .011 x 20 years two months)?
Q. A Postal Service employee had to use all his sick and annual leave because of illness. He used leave without pay. When he retired, he was not entitled to benefits. He received only his contributions. Why did he get back only his funds and not the complete package because of LWOP? Read the rest of this entry »