How does unused sick leave factor into annuity?


Q. I am a federal firefighter who will retire in the next year and I have a question about my sick leave.  I am under the Civil Service Retirement System, and at retirement, I will have 35 years of creditable service. I understand I should get the 80 percent maximum entitlement of my base pay at retirement. I want to clarify how my unused sick leave will be calculated into my retirement annuity.  At retirement, I will have almost 5,000 hours of sick leave. I was told that I would receive an additional 2 percent added to my retirement annuity for each year of sick leave I have accrued when I retire. I will have the equivalent of two years of sick leave, which should add an additional 4 percent to my annuity, for a max of 84 percent. Is this correct?

A. Unused sick leave isn’t subject to the 80 percent limit on an earned annuity. Unused actual service hours are added to unused sick leave hours to create additional months (and even years) of credit in the annuity calculation. A month is roughly 174 hours long and a year 2,087. Each additional month would be worth 1/6 percent and each year, around 2 percent. Note: Since since sick leave is accrued at a rate of 4 hours for each biweekly pay period, you can only accrue 104 hours of sick leave in a year. If you never took a single day of sick leave in a 35-year career, you would only have 3,640 hours to your credit.


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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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