Unused annual leave


Q: I’m 58 and have planned on retiring at the end of the year with 40 years and a Civil Service Retirement System annuity. I’ve saved all my annual leave and compensation time, and plan to bank the maximum credit hours to create a significant nest egg (new kitchen). I intended to keep working after retirement, and now they have passed what once was Senate Bill 629- Part-Time Reemployment of Annuitants Act. Sounds like my wish came true and nobody is laughing when I say I want to come back, but I’d like to only work half as many hours while I keep my annuity. After all, it costs the agency less than a 20 percent retention bonus that kept me here over the past year. However, as I begin looking into this in detail, it appears that there may be a problem with my plans. Some of what I have read suggests that when it comes to the lump-sum payment for my 448 hours of annual leave — immediate reemployment would result in my leave being carried forward rather than giving me a lump-sum payment. It looks like I would need to be separated for a length of time equal to the leave I have accumulated if I want to receive the lump-sum payment for it. Questions: 1. Am I interpreting the rule about the handling of lump sum leave correctly with regard to reemployment? 2. What would happen to my accumulated leave over the 240-hour limit? – I am fearful that it would be lost and I can’t imagine they would pay me for 208 hours and carry over the 240 hours. 3. It seems that if I am reemployed as an intermittent employee, then I avoid the problem I seem to have dreamed up and get to keep the position and the full lump-sum payment. Is that right or just wishful thinking? By the way — I’m not familiar with the intermittent employee concept — never met one and I can’t seem to find a definition for it.
A: I’ll answer your questions in the order you asked them: 1. Yes, your interpretation is correct. When you retire, unused annual leave is projected forward as if you were still on the agency’s rolls. If you were to return to work for the government after retiring, you would have to refund the money for any days that have not gone by. 2. If you were to retire before the end of the leave year, you would receive payment for all the unused annual leave hours you had to your credit. However, if you returned to work for the government, you wouldn’t be recredited with any hours that exceeded the carry-over limit unless you are reemployed before the end of the leave year. If you were still employed when the leave year ended, any hours over the limit would be lost. 3. Intermittent service means that you would be working for a limited period of time on an as-needed basis. If you were reemployed within the first six months after retiring, you would be limited to a maximum of 540 hours. If you were reemployed after six months had passed, you could work up to 1,040 hours in a year. The lifetime limit is 3,120 hours. On a final note, the fact that you would like to go back to work on a part-time basis is no guarantee that your agency would approve that request. This provision of law only allows an agency to grant a waiver that would allow you to receive both your annuity and the full salary of a position if certain strict criteria are met.


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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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