Sick leave math


Q. I have a question regarding adding sick leave to complete partial months of creditable federal service. I’m a federal law enforcement agent with over 20 years of Federal Employees Retirement System time and am over 50 years old.  My service computation date is April 22, 1985, which means as of Dec. 22, 2011, I had 26 years, eight months of service, including military time. By Dec. 31, I’d have nine extra days of service that will be lost because the Office of Personnel Management only recognizes years and full months. I want to add sick leave days to complete a full 30 days and add a month of service time.

Every 174 hours of sick leave equals one full extra month of service; this translates to 5.8 hours per day (174 divided by 30 = 5.8).

On Dec. 31, my final sick leave balance would be 760 hours. So, to add one month of service, can I add 21 days of sick leave (21 x 5.8 = 121.8); then I’ll add an extra month of service (174 hours) and this will give me a total of 26 years, 10 months.

The total sick leave that I can still use will be: 760 – 121.8 – 174 = 464 divided by 2 = 232 (29 days).


A. I won’t check your arithmetic. Instead I can confirm that any leftover hours of actual service are converted into retirement days, which, on average are 5.797 hours long. In most cases, a retirement month is 174 hours long. Unused hours of sick leave are likewise converted to retirement days and added on.

If the combination makes up a full month, that month is added to your service time and used in the computation of your annuity. While it would be nice to thread the needle and end up with only enough combined hours to make up a month (or months), it’s prudent to allow yourself a little cushion in case you’ve made a miscalculation.


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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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