Retirement dates and leave limits


Q: This question is in reference to your Dec. 15, 2009, article, “It’s not too late to retire in 2009, or plan for 2010 or 2011” I am planning to retire in 2011; a co-worker is planning to retire in 2010. As per your article, it looks like the planets are lining up, as the leave year and calendar year will end at the same time. Both of us are Civil Service Retirement System employees and work for the U.S. Postal Service. The 2010 leave year ends Jan. 1, 2011. In the Postal Service, we can carry over 560 hours of annual leave, but my co-worker is planning to not take any annual leave, which will result in a total of 768 hours (560+208).

Our questions: If my co-worker retires on Jan. 1, 2011, will she get all of her 768 hours of annual leave as a terminal leave check and not lose the 208 hours? Will the terminal leave check be counted as income for 2011 tax return? Is it the same for me if I retire Dec. 31, 2011? And, can you retire on a Sunday?

A: According to the USPS, the carryover limit for bargaining unit employees is 440 hours; Executive Administrative Schedule employees can carry over 560 hours. These are the maximum amounts for which a USPS employee can receive a terminal leave payment. You can retire on any day of the week you want; however, why anyone would want to retire on the first day of a pay period escapes me.


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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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