Annual leave and retirement date


Q. I work for a Veterans Affairs hospital under CSRS Offset. I was employed at the Postal Service from 1980 to 2001. I was reinstated at VA in 2008. I work Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. I am a GS-5. I have 178 hours of annual leave and 1,027 hours of sick leave. My service computation date is Feb. 12, 1987.

I am eligible to retire on my 60th birthday, which is March 28. I have planned a European vacation from March 21 to April 9. I want to take annual leave March 21-29. I have annual leave approved by my supervisor for March 21-31. (I used March 31 on my annual leave slip to coincide with my retirement date.)

The local human resources department is telling me that I must be physically at work on March 29 to use a retirement date of March 31, to clear the facility, that to be in an annual leave status on your retirement date is a violation of the terminal leave law at VA. Is this correct?

Can you please help me provide a reference that I am eligible to retire March 31 without being physically at work? They are saying the soonest I can retire is April 10 because that would be the soonest day that I could physically be at the facility after I am eligible to retire, due to being out of the country.

If I must be at work on my retirement date, could you suggest the least expensive date to retire?

A. Because the Office of Personnel Management’s leave regulations don’t address this one way or another, it’s been left to agencies to establish their own rules when it comes to granting requests for annual leave and determining whether an employee must be present on the day he or she retires or separates. Even then, there are exceptions — for example, if the retiring employee is too ill to come to work or when an activity is closed because of weather conditions.

Some agencies have more restrictive rules than others, probably a result of their response to earlier Comptroller General decisions that prohibited people from burning off their leave before retiring or separating (The Government Accountability Office calls this terminal leave). If your agency has such a rule governing the period before separation or a last-day rule, it should be in writing. Ask to see it.


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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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