Sick leave and retirement


Q: I will retire in 2014 under FERS with about 12.5 years of service. My high-3 will be approximately $62,000 and I know I will get a lump sum for any annual leave, but I’m a bit confused on the sick leave. I will have about 1,100 hours of sick leave accrued and the online calculator I used to determine how much that will add to my retirement says it will give me $8 per month more by using that sick leave. I thought the whole idea behind allowing FERS employees to use their sick leave toward retirement was that it would be an incentive. How is $8 a month an incentive? Even if I were to put in 30 years and never take a sick day that would only add up to about 5,000 hours. Has there been any talk about treating sick leave the same as annual leave and just paying us cash for it? That would make a whole lot more sense and be a better incentive.

A: On or after Jan. 1, 2014, sick leave hours for FERS employees will have the same value as hours worked, just as it has all along for CSRS employees. Therefore, your 1,100 hours of sick leave would be the equivalent of working an additional six months. Using the standard FERS annuity formula, that would increase your annuity by one-half percent. As an alternative to getting no credit at all, that’s not bad. P.S. There has never been any consideration of making a cash payment for unused sick leave, nor is their ever likely to be.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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