Leave without pay, part-time service and annuity computation


Q. I’m a fed with 25 years of service. I’m 53 years old. Unfortunately, I’m having a lot of health issues. While I may be able to qualify for retirement disability, I prefer to try and hang on as long as I can in my job. Fortunately, I have a sympathetic employer that has allowed me to be off of work. I’ve lost all of my 2,000 hours of leave. If I take leave without pay or use the Family Leave Act, is there a minimum number of hours I must work to earn a year of service? If there is a minimum, how does that affect my medical benefits? Do I only have ¾ benefits if I work a lower number of hours? Do I only have ½ benefits if I work an even lower number of hours?

The way I look at this is, if I’m able to work at least 16 hours per week, which is equivalent to 40 percent of my pay or what I would earn in Year 2 and later of retirement disability, I may as well continue to try and work.

Retiring now, losing 45 percent (9 x 5%) of my 25 years is not a great option, either.

A. You can find out how your annuity would be computed if you have any part-time service, go to www.opm.gov/retire/pubs/handbook/C055.pdf and scroll down to Part 55B2. As for health benefits, you can continue your enrollment and receive the same benefits. However, your contributions to pay for that coverage will be greater because you agency will only pay for the percentage that is equal to your work schedule. For example, if you worked half time, your agency would only pay half of its share of the premiums. You would be required to pay the other half plus your own share.

Whether you take leave without pay on its own or under the Family and Medical Leave Act, any such period that is less than six months in a calendar year will be treated as actual service. No credit will be given for any period that exceeds six months in a calendar year.


About Author

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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