Expert's View

Last week we wrote about what will happen to your unused annual leave when you retire or otherwise separate from the government. To recap, you’ll receive a lump-sum payment for that leave. And it will equal the amount of pay you would have received in you had stayed on the job until all that leave ran out. To arrive at that figure, your agency will multiply your hours on unused annual leave by your hourly rate of pay.

Here’s what they’ll include when determining the value of your leave:


• Your rate of basic pay
• Locality pay or other similar geographic adjustment
• Within-grade increase, but only if the waiting period was met on the day you separate
• Across-the-board annual adjustments
• Administratively uncontrollable overtime (AUO) pay, availability pay, and standby duty pay
• Night differentials for FWS employees only (including that portion of the lump-sum periods that would have occurred when you were scheduled to work night shifts
• Regularly scheduled overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act, if you were on an uncommon tour of duty
• Supervisory differentials
• Nonforeign area cost of living allowances and post differentials
• Foreign area post allowances

What’s not included in your Basic pay are such things as bonuses, allowances, as-needed overtime, holiday pay and certain differentials.

To determine if a particular kind of pay is part of your Basic pay, compare what you are receiving in your paycheck with the amount that is being deducted from it for retirement contributions. If retirement contributions are being deducted, then it’s included in your Basic pay. If they aren’t, it isn’t included.

See also, Lump Payment for Annual Federal Leave at

A final word. If you are considering retiring around the turn of the year and there will be an annual across-the-board increase in January, note that the raise will increase the value of your hours attributable to the time after the raise takes effect (usually the start of the first full pay period). This creates an incentive for many employees to set a retirement date as late as possible while avoiding the loss of leave beyond their carryover limit when the new leave year starts (see last week’s column for details on that). For FERS employees, retirement would have to be no later than December 31, for CSRS employees, no later than January 3.

Next week I’ll fill you in on one of your most valuable benefits – sick leave.