Earnings limit


Q. I just got my earning statement for my annual-leave payout. In the remarks section, I have a line that says OVR EARN LIMIT: $5,697.00. I was a GS-15/5 with LEAP and had an annual-leave balance of 432 hours on retirement (April 30). I typically received over-earning notifications on my pay statement, so am familiar with the why. But I was under the impression that the earning limits did not apply to annual leave that was paid out on retirement. Is that true, or are annual-leave payouts on retirement subject to the same over-earning restrictions as regular pay?

A. According to OPM, “a lump-sum payment for annual leave upon separation is subject to the same earning restrictions (e.g., biweekly premium pay cap) as regular pay.”


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.


  1. Can someone explain to me what this means in plain english? Does this mean the retiree will not get paid 432 hours at the GS-15/5 pay rate? If not, what will he/she get paid? thanks in advance

    • If he had just been a GS 15/5, his unused annual leave would have been paid to him at the current rate for that grade and step. However, since he was additionally receiving Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), that put him over the payable limit. Therefore he could only be paid at the GS-15/5 rate.

      • Mr Jones, Can you explain further? I’m in a similar situation and would like to retire at the end of the leave year with ~300 hours to sell back. (I am a GS-14) If I understand your answer to the question, if my regular pay and my annual leave payout is >$5697, it’s subject to the biweekly pay cap. If so, what happens to the overage? Will it be paid out or does it just vanish?

  2. William Glenn on

    So, again to clarify – if LEAP is not involved – all his leave would be paid out. IE, a plain jane GS employee would be paid in full for all accumulated annual leave at separation. Is that correct?

  3. Ronn Gallagher on

    Is there any exception to this rule for someone receive LEAP who is going out on a FERS medical retirement ?

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