Leave without pay


Q. I am a federal worker with the U.S. Border Patrol for 28 years. Two months before my retirement I injured my right knee on duty. I am coming to an end of my COP and don’t have much sick leave left. Doctors are looking on total knee replacement, which will put me on leave without pay. How is LWOP calculated on pay? I heard it’s only a percentage of your basic pay.

A. You would receive full credit for the time you are on LWOP, as long as it doesn’t exceed six months in a calendar year. Assuming that it doesn’t, when your annuity is calculated that time will be treated as if you were still on the job. Therefore, it would have no adverse effect on your annuity.


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.


  1. Elaine Lumsden on

    As long as the individual is receiving OWCP there is no 6-month limit for LWOP. The 6-month LWOP rule only applies for more traditional
    LWOP. All time while on OWCP and LWOP status is creditable for retirement eligibility and computation.

  2. I am a BP agent and got hurt on the job. Had shoulder surgery and approaching my 6 month on LWOP. I had a previous SCD which is 5 months before my EOD. Due to this, my seniority is higher than most. Will this time on LWOP, affect my SCD/seniority?

    • Elaine Lumsden on

      John Frisco:

      No, there is no six-month rule for LWOP when it comes to an employee who is on LWOP but collecting pay from OWCP. The reason for this exception is you would have been, not only in pay status, but LEO status as well, if you had not had the approved work-related injury, therefore, ALL time on the OWCP rolls counts as creditable service for both retirement and LEO service, not matter how long you are receiving OWCP and 1) are still on the agency rolls, and 2) collecting your pay from OWCP instead of the agency.

      Here is the reference from the CSRS FERS Handbook. Although it is in the CSRS section of the handbook, when you go to the FERS section, it says this also applies to FERS. Please see page 48, https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/publications-forms/csrsfers-handbook/c020.pdf

      “If an employee is receiving benefits from the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, credit is given for the entire period of compensation if he or she is carried on the rolls of the agency in a leave without pay (LWOP) status. Also, credit is allowed for all of the period of separation during which a former employee was in receipt of workers’ compensation, regardless of the type of appointment, provided the person is reemployed in Federal service and establishes title to annuity based on a subsequent separation.”

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