Annual and sick leave and retiring early


Q. I just sent you a question and realized I did not include that I am under CSRS. As of Oct. 13, I had 29 years with the Postal Service  and presently have enough annual and sick leave to get me through until I have my required 30 years. What is the best way for me to retire early with the least amount of loss in my retirement?

A. First, I need to correct a misunderstanding on your part. You can’t use your annual and sick leave to help you reach 30 years of service. Unlike the military, the federal government doesn’t have a provision for terminal leave. You can only take annual leave if it’s approved by your supervisor. Sick leave may only be used for approved purposes and, if it extends over several days, it may require that you provide written evidence of your need to take it.

Second, the only way you could retire earlier than when you have the right combination of age and service, typically age 55 with 30 years, is if your agency was offering early retirements or separating you through reductions in force. Then you could retire at age 50 with 20 years of service or at any age with 25.


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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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