Leave without pay and high-3


Q. When doing an online search about leave without pay during the high-3 years for annuity calculation, I found the FedExperts response from Nov. 30, 2012. It stated that less than six months LWOP per calendar year does not count against time in service, nor does it reduce one’s salary calculation for the high-3 years.

However, on my CSRS Personal Benefits Statements for 2011 and 2012, it appears that it does reduce the retirement annuity.

In September/October 2011, I took 79 hours of LWOP. My Jan. 2, 2011, CSRS PBS shows a high-three of $110,657, and an annuity of $6,982 a month. My Jan. 1, 2012, CSRS PBS shows a high-3 of $113,372, and an annuity of $6,964 a month. How is it that my high-3 went up in 2012 but my annuity dropped by $18 a month?

A. I should have said that it rarely has any effect on a high-3. That’s because it is the average of an employee’s highest three consecutive years of average basic pay. Since there haven’t been any across-the-board pay increases in the past few years, the only time that a high-3 could be affected would be if an employee had a within-grade increase or a promotion. To see how the high-3 computation is done, go to www.opm.gov/retire/pubs/handbook/C050.pdf and scroll down to Section 50A2.1-4A


About Author

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

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