General Questions

Q - What is the best day to retire?

A – The best day of the month to retire depends on whether you are in the CSRS or FERS retirement system. CSRS and Offset CSRS If you are retiring voluntarily from a CSRS or Offset CSRS position, there are 4 days in any month to retire so that your annuity begins to accrue the next day, they are: The last day of the month so that your annuity begins to accrue the 1 st of the next month. The first of the month so that your annuity begins to accrue on the 2 nd . The 2 nd so that your annuity will begin to accrue on the 3 rd. The 3 rd so that your annuity will begin to accrue on the 4 th . If you retire voluntarily on any other day, your annuity will not begin to accrue until the first of the next month. FERS If you are retiring voluntarily from a FERS covered position you want to schedule your retirement at the end of any month because FERS voluntary annuities are paid the first of the month only.

Q - What if I am being retired because of age?

A – Most federal employees can not be forced to retire based on age. There are some positions that require a young and vigorous workforce (for example Law Enforcement Officers, Fire Fighters and Air Traffic Controllers) who have a mandatory retirement age. It is age 57 for Law Enforcement Officers and Fire Fighters and 56 for Air Traffic Controllers. If a mandatory retirement age applies to your position you will be given an advance notice at least 60 days prior to the month in which you attain the mandatory age. You will be retired at the end of the month in which you attain the mandatory retirement age.

Q - When I retire what happens to my Annual Leave balance?

A – Whether you are CSRS or FERS you will receive a lump-sum payment for your annual leave, which is issued from your agency payroll system. Therefore, it should be received within 1 month of your retirement. Most federal employees may carry over no more than 240 hours of annual leave from one leave year to another.

If you retire at the end of a calendar year or the beginning of the new calendar year before the new leave year begins you may actually get a lump-sum equal to the 240 carry over plus anything you earned in the final year of employment and did not use, therefore, the maximum could be 448 hours.

(You must be in pay status the last day of the last pay period of the year to keep the last 8 hours of annual leave. Therefore, 440 is the realistic maximum.) Restored annual leave, is also calculated in this manner and can push the maximum beyond 448. If a higher maximum number of annual leave hours applies to you, your lump sum will be calculated in the same manner but on the higher amount.

The lump sum is calculated using the following:

• Rate of basic pay

• Locality pay or other similar geographic adjustment

• Regularly scheduled overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act for employees on uncommon tours of duty

• Overtime pay for Border Patrol Agents under the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act

• Supervisory differentials

• Post differentials

• Foreign area post allowances.

Tax consequences of receiving the annual leave lump sum should be considered. The payment will be taxed when received for Federal, State, Medicare and Social Security taxes, if you are paying Social Security taxes.

Q - I have credit hours -- what happens to them when I retire?

A – You will be paid for the number of credit hours you have, not to exceed 24 credit hours.

Q - I have comp time. Is that paid in the lump sum?

A – Payment will be made for comp time taken in lieu of overtime pay (subject to the comp time formula).

Q - I have a time off award. Can I be paid for it?

A – No, time off awards are not paid as part of the lump sum, they should be taken.

Q - Can forfeited annual leave be restored?

A – Yes, in certain situations. Annual leave that was forfeited because it was in excess of the maximum amount permitted for carry over into the next leave year may be restored because of an administrative error, exigency of the public business, or sickness of the employee. The annual leave must be restored in a separate leave account. Leave that is forfeited because of an exigency of the public business or sickness of the employee may be considered for restoration only if the annual leave was scheduled in writing before the start of the third biweekly pay period prior to the end of the leave year.

Q - Can restored leave that is not used within the established time limits be restored a second time?

A – No. The Comptroller General has ruled consistently that if restored leave is forfeited again, there is no legal authority for its further restoration.

Q - What are the time limits for using restored leave?

A – Restored leave must be scheduled and used not later than the end of the leave year ending 2 years after –

• the date of restoration of the annual leave forfeited because of administrative error;

• the date fixed by the head of the agency or designee as the date of termination of the exigency of the public business;

or • the date the employee is determined to be recovered and able to return to duty.

Q - What is the paid parental leave program?

A – Paid parental leave (PPL) provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave in connection with the birth or placement (for adoption or foster care) of a child.  The PPL is limited to 12 work weeks and may be used only during the 12 month period beginning on the date of the birth or placement involved.  Within these 12 work weeks paid parental leave is available as long as an employee has a continuing parental role with the child whose birth or placement was the basis for the leave entitlement.

The employee may not use any paid parental leave unless the employee agrees in writing before commencement of the leave to subsequently work for the agency for 12 weeks.  This 12-week work obligation begins on the employee’s first scheduled work day after the paid parental leave concludes..

Q - What are my appeal rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

A – If an employee believes an agency has not fully complied with the rights and requirements provided by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Office of Personnel Management’s implementing regulations at 5 CFR 630.1201 through 630.1211, the employee may file a grievance under applicable agency administrative procedures or negotiated grievance procedures. For more information about initiating a grievance in your agency, contact your servicing personnel office.

Q - If an employee has been approved for intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, may an agency request documentation that the intermittent absences are being used for FMLA purposes?

A – Typically, an agency may require recertification of a serious health condition every 30 calendar days.

However, if the agency receives information that casts doubt upon the continuing validity of the original medical certification, including the need for care, it may require recertification more frequently. In addition, the agency may also require an employee to state on the medical recertification the care he or she will provide and an estimate of the amount of time needed to provide such care. To assist agencies and employees, OPM’s regulations also allow a health care provider representing the agency to contact the health care provider of the employee, with the employee’s permission to clarify medical information pertaining to the serious health condition.

Q - May an employee who has requested approval of his or her application for disability retirement use leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993?

A – Yes. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), a covered employee is entitled to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for certain family and medical needs, including the serious health condition of an employee.

An employee may substitute annual leave or sick leave for any or all of the period of unpaid leave, consistent with current law and regulations. An employee awaiting approval of his or her request for disability retirement is entitled to use any or all of the 12 workweeks of leave under the FMLA, if he or she continues to meet the requirements and obligations under the FMLA. Employees should contact their agency personnel offices to receive additional information on their entitlements and responsibilities under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

Q - My supervisor placed me on leave restriction 3 months ago and said I must call him at least 2 hours before the beginning of my shift if I cannot be at work that day. In addition, I must provide medical documentation for each unscheduled absence. Earlier this month I hurt my back, and my doctor certified that my condition qualifies as a chronic serious health condition under the Family and Medical Leave Act. My agency agreed to give me intermittent leave under the FMLA, but my supervisor says I must still follow the conditions of the letter of restriction. Is this legal?

A – When the need for leave is foreseeable, an employee must give 30 days notice of his or her intent to take FMLA leave. When the need for leave is not foreseeable, an employee must provide notice as soon as is practicable. In addition, an agency may require an employee on leave for a serious health condition to provide initial medical certification and recertification every 30 calendar days. If the health care provider has specified on the initial medical certification a minimum duration of the period of incapacity, the agency may not request recertification until that period has passed unless other conditions arise that permit the agency to require recertification more frequently. An agency’s policies or procedures for notification of FMLA leave or medical certification may not be more stringent than required by OPM’s regulations. If an employee who has been placed on leave restriction invokes his or her entitlement to FMLA leave, the agency must follow OPM’s rules for notification and medical certification of FMLA leave.

Q - Can an employee receive donated annual leave under the Federal leave transfer and leave bank programs if he or she has filed a claim for disability retirement?

A – Yes. An employee may apply for and receive donated annual leave while their application for disability retirement is being processed.

Under the Federal leave transfer and leave bank program, an employee who is experiencing a personal or family medical emergency and who has exhausted his or her available paid leave may request to become an approved leave recipient and receive donated annual leave. Once the disability retirement application has been approved by OPM, the leave recipient may no longer receive or use donated annual leave beyond the end of the pay period in which the agency receives the notice of allowance of disability retirement.

Additionally, donated annual leave may be substituted retroactively for periods of leave without pay or used to liquidate a debt for advanced annual or sick leave granted on or after a date fixed by the agency as the beginning of the period of the medical emergency for which leave without pay or advance annual or sick leave was granted.

Therefore, a leave recipient awaiting approval of his or her application for disability retirement may retroactively substitute donated annual leave for leave without pay or advanced leave that was taken during the medical emergency. Agencies should advise employees concerning the possible effects of substituting donated annual leave for leave without pay or advance leave on his or her retirement income. If an employee has had a substantial period of leave without pay, the period of time for which the donated annual leave is substituted can make a substantial difference in the accrued annuity payment to which the employee is entitled.

This is because an annuity cannot commence until the day after the employee’s last day of pay. If the donated annual leave is substituted for the leave without pay period just prior to the employee’s separation from the Federal Government for disability purposes, the annuity will commence on the day after separation.

However, if the donated annual leave is substituted for an earlier period of leave without pay (e.g., at the beginning of the medical emergency), the annuity may commence at an earlier time, the day after the last day in a pay status.

Q - I forfeited sick leave in 1991 when I returned to Federal employment after a break-in-service of more than 3 years. Can I now have that sick leave recredited in light of OPM's sick leave regulations, which remove the 3-year break-in-service limitation?

A – Previously, OPM’s regulations in 5 CFR 630.502(b) provided that an employee was entitled to a recredit of sick leave if he or she was reemployed in another Federal position within 3 years after separation.On December 2, 1994, OPM issued final regulations that removed the 3-year break-in-service limitation on the recredit of sick leave for former employees who are reemployed on or after December 2, 1994. Sick leave may not be recredited to employees who were reemployed in the Federal service before December 2, 1994, and who previously forfeited sick leave under the former rule.

Q - In the use of sick leave for family care and bereavement purposes, what is the meaning of the phrase 'to give care or otherwise attend to a family member?'

A – The Family Friendly Leave Act authorized the use of sick leave to give care for or otherwise attend to a family member having an illness, injury, or other condition, which, if an employee had such a condition, would justify the use of sick leave by the employee. In other words, if the family member were an employee, and his or her condition would justify the use of sick leave, the employee’s use of sick leave to care for the family member is justified.

OPM’s regulations governing the use of sick leave for family care and bereavement purposes are consistent with the Act. The intent of the regulation is to allow an employee to provide physical care and other assistance to a family member, as appropriate. This may include, for example, an employee providing transportation and/or accompanying a family member to a health care provider’s office or to a hospital or other health care facility, providing assistance during examination and/or treatment, and providing care and assistance during recovery. Under agency policies, managers and supervisors must use their judgment in administering the use of sick leave for family care and bereavement in a fair and equitable manner. It is not possible for OPM to regulate or specify the criteria for every situation that may arise.

Q - What happens to my sick leave balance when I retire?

A – CSRS and FERS employees are treated the same for unused sick leave. Unused sick leave is NOT included in service for determining eligibility for retirement. Credit for unused sick leave is added to length of service in computing the benefit.

Unused sick leave is credited in immediate retirement (annuity commences within 31 days after separation, all but deferred annuities.) Credit for time is computed on the basis of 2087 hours per work year, but there is no maximum.

1 month is equal to 174 hours;

2 months are equal to 348 hours;

3 months are equal to 522 hours;

4 months are equal to 696 hours;

5 months are equal to 870 hours;

6 months are equal to 1044 hours;

7 months are equal to 1217 hours;

8 months are equal to 1391 hours;

9 months are equal to 1565 hours;

10 months are equal to 1737 hours;

11 months are equal to 1913 hours;

one year is equal to 2087 hours.

If at retirement you have more than 2087 hours of Sick Leave, subtract out 2087, that will give you 1 year’s service credit.

The balance will be converted using the chart to come up with any additional months and days service. The unused Sick Leave is not credited just in whole months see the example below.

To compute the additional credit for sick leave at retirement, add the months and days of sick leave to the months and days of actual service.

For example:

Actual Service30 yrs. 3 months9 days
Sick Leave (833 hrs.) 4 months24 days

 30 yrs. 


7 months

  33 days

– 30 days


 30 yrs. 8 months3 days

In this example 3 days would be dropped.



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