How will medical procedure affect retirement, sick leave?


Q: I am a federal employee covered under the Civil Service Retirement System and will be retiring on Jan. 3, 2011, with 42 years, 1 month of service and 2,700 hours of sick leave. I need knee surgery, which will require that I be off work for three months. Should I have the surgery before I retire and use my sick leave, or postpone the surgery until I retire and apply all the sick leave toward my annuity?

A: You are asking for advice, which I don’t give. The decision is up to you. However, assuming that you are going to retire on the same date, regardless of whether you have the surgery before or after retirement, the only difference is that if you have the surgery before you retire, your annuity will be about one-quarter of a percent less than it would be if you waited until after you retire. By the way, if you are planning on retiring in January 2011, you had better do it on January 1, which is the end of the leave year. If you retire after than date, you will lose any leave you have in excess of 240 hours.


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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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