Annual leave and lump sum


Q: 1. Can I apply annual leave to extend my time on the rolls for the purpose of maintaining health benefits for a longer time? 2. Can I apply my AL to my “creditable service time” for the purpose of adding service time to help me reach retirement at an earlier future date (though still not eligible for immediate retirement now) even after adding AL time? 3. Can I use AL to help me qualify for severance pay (5 days more and I would have been eligible)?
Background: I was recently separated from federal service. I tried to retire under discontinued service retirement. However, the agency said I only had five days shy of 19 years service. However, I had more than 100 hours of Annual Leave. The agency paid me the AL in a lump sum (squeezed into one pay period), but I wanted it spread out over the period of time I would have been on the rolls.  That way I would have completed 12 months of continuous service, add a few days more to my retirement SCD and have health benefits a few weeks longer. Summarily, I was paid a lump sum against my wishes, having previously asked the agency to apply my AL so I can stay on the rolls longer. One HR person said I could do this, one said I couldn’t. Who’s right?

A: 1. No. 2. No. 3. No. Finally, your agency was required by law and regulation to convert your unused annual leave into a lump-sum payment and send it to you. Neither your agency, nor you, had a choice.


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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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