Best date to retire


Q. I’m 60 with 10 years in CSRS, 25 in FERS, with about 2,900 hours of unused sick leave (900 of which were in CSRS) and about 440 hours of unused annual leave expected by the end of the year.

If I retire on Dec. 31 to try to maximize my unused annual leave lump sum, it looks like I will not qualify to apply up to 100 percent of my unused sick leave to time of service (except the CSRS portion).

If I retire on Jan 1-3, 2014, to be able to use the full (rounded in months) amount of my unused sick leave applied to length of service, then I miss out on the maximum unused annual leave (since only 240 hours can be carried over), but I will get my pension check effective Feb. 1. Or does the leave year actually end in 2014, thereby allowing around 440 hours of unused annual leave for the lump sum?

Since I turn 62 on Oct. 8, 2014, and the annuity formula changes to 1.1 percent, what’s the earliest I could retire and maximize unused annual leave, get to apply my unused sick leave, and get a check in a timely fashion? Dec. 31 2014?

A. If you retire Dec. 31, you’ll only get credit for half of your unused annual leave. Since the 2013 leave year doesn’t end until Jan. 11, 2014, you could retire any time up to that date and get full credit. However, since you are a FERS employee, retiring after Dec. 31 would mean that you wouldn’t be on the annuity roll until February.

If you waited until you were 60, the FERS component in your annuity would be calculated using the enhanced 1.1 percent formula. Although you would have only been able to carry 240 hours into the new leave year, you would be earning additional annual leave during 2014. If you retired at the end of the last pay period in December 2014, you’d be able to get a lump-sum payment for all that accumulated leave and be on the annuity roll on Jan. 1, 2015.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

Leave A Reply