Reg Jones Expert's View

Last week I wrote about how unused sick leave is credited when a CSRS employee retirees. This time I want to explain how it is being done now – and will be done in the future – for FERS retirees.

Under Public Law 111-84, FERS employees can now get credit for their unused sick leave in determining their years of service and in the computation of their annuities. However, rather than immediately getting full credit for your unused sick leave when you retire, that benefit is being phased in. You’ll only get half credit if you retire between now and December 31, 2013. You’ll only get full credit when you retire if it’s on or after January 1, 2014.

To find out how much your unused sick leave is worth, you need to understand how it will be converted into months and years of service when you retire. In short, 2,087 hours equals one year. If you retire on or after January 1, 2014, that would translate into a 1 percent increase in your annuity, 1.1 percent if you retired at age 62 or later with at least 20 years of service. If you retire before that, your annuity would only be increased by either one-half percent or .055 percent.

The exact amount of credit you’d get will depend on whether you have any days of actual service that don’t equal a full month. Any leftover days will be converted to retirement hours and added to those unused sick leave hours. For retirement purposes, all days are 5.797 hours long, with a month equaling 174 hours (the average number of working hours in a month). Any days that don’t add up to a full month are discarded.

If you are a FERS employee who will have a CSRS component in your annuity, any sick leave hours up to the maximum number you had when you transferred to FERS will be credited to your CSRS annuity. Any sick leave hours above that number will be credited to your FERS annuity.

FYI. While sick leave can be used to increase your annuity, it can’t be used to make you eligible to retire. It can only be added after you meet the age and service requirements to do so. Further, sick leave credit won’t be retroactively given to any employee who retired before the law’s effective date (October 29, 2009) nor will it be given to any employee who leaves government and later applies for a deferred annuity. On the other hand, if you return to work for the government, those sick leave hours will be re-credited to your account.