Annual leave hours at retirement


Q. What is the maximum amount of leave that I can cash-in (240hrs, 408hrs, 420hrs, 440hrs, etc.) when I retire with my federal position? The only reason I ask is my organization is stating no more than 240 hours! Does my installation have the right to dictate how much leave they are willing to pay out when I retire? If that is the case, then where is the federal bill or policy that discusses this? Is the guidance discussed in the Department of Defense appropriations bill? Bottom-line: My goal is to make sure that I have all the facts prior to the submission of my retirement package.

A. Assuming that you are a GS or WG employee, the maximum annual leave you can be paid for at retirement is the amount you can carry over from one year to the next (240 hours) plus any additional leave you earned before the end of the last pay period in the following leave year. For example, if your carryover is 240 hours and you used no leave in the year you retire, you could accumulate an additional maximum of 208 hours (8 X 26 pay periods), for a grand total of 448 hours. However, getting annual leave credit for the 26th pay period is tricky. You’ll have to be sure that you’ve completed your work week and set a retirement date with your agency that doesn’t cause you to slip over the line into the next leave year. If you did, every hour of annual leave over 240 hours would be lost.


About Author

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


  1. Gerald White on

    How about GS employees who have served overseas? It’s my understanding that those people can continue to carry over 360 hours, even after returning to CONUS but if they drop below 360, say 320 hours, that becomes the new cap.

  2. Kevin Spaner on

    Reg, working to Jan. 3, 2018 means a employee leaves the second Thursday of the 1st pay period of 2018 with 3 days (Jan4 to Jan 6) not worked. Is a partial sick or annual leave benefit calculated and added for the worked days in the partial pay period? Also is there an online calculator to calculate a retirees annuity and the additional days necessary to add 1 month using data from ones high three, time-in-service, and annual and sick leave balances?

  3. John Kowalkowski on

    One other rule….Most Postal Service employees are limited to 440 hours max for the AL payout.

    I did overseas DOD time, got it up to 360 and never went below it after returning CONUS. Retiring full CSRS on Jan 3rd, 2016 and will have 560.

    All retiring during PP 26 should be sure to monitor payroll tax allowances and adjust them up about 3 payperiods before retiring. Because the pension portion contributions has been with after tax money, your retirement will be partially tax free until that like amount is paid back over about 10 years. (there is a calculation based on age of retiree and spouse) You will not need quite as much withheld from the lump sum when it is all added together in the next year.

    • Thanks for your input. Only one correction need to be made. The amount of your annuity that will be tax-free is based on life expectancy tables, which means that you’ll be able to deduct the same amount year after year until you die, even if you live beyond the projected date of your death. The way that’s handled for a married couple is is a little more complicated. For more information about the methods used, go to

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