Retirement Policy

Image: Mike Flippo/

Some federal employees would like to put in retirement papers and then go on annual leave until they retire, preferring to get the value of their accumulated annual leave in that way rather than receive it as a payment after retirement.

This idea is especially common among former members of the military, because “terminal leave”—which allows them to use up leave due to them—is one of the benefits available to them when they are separating from military service.


However, there is no similar authority for a federal civilian employee. That matter was settled many years ago by the Comptroller General, which stated that “terminal annual or vacation leave may not be granted immediately prior to separation from the service in any case where it is known in advance that the employee is to be separated from the service.”

Strict as that ruling appears to be, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take a few days off before you retire. You can, with the approval of your supervisor. However, for your boss to approve it, the amount you request needs to be reasonable.

While there is no law or regulation that requires you to be at work on the day you retire, it’s clear from the Comptroller General’s decision that you and your boss should use discretion to avoid the appearance that you are burning off leave.

Calculating Service Credit for Sick Leave At Retirement

What it Takes to Be an Average Retiree

Don’t Overlook How Taxes Erode Retirement Income, Report Says

Pandemic Causes Some Federal Employees to Rethink Career Plans

What Adds Up to a High-3

FERS Retirement Guide 2022