Taking Your (Sick) Leave

By Tammy Flanagan

February 9, 2007

I promised last week that I'd have something for the folks covered by the Civil Service Retirement System this week. So I'm focusing on credit for sick leave, which (in general) CSRS retirees get and Federal Employees Retirement System retirees don't. But even if you're in FERS, you should read on for more details.

Evaporating Leave

Over a 20-year career, a federal employee who has worked in government can accumulate a year's worth of sick leave. Since there is no limit to how much sick leave an employee can carry over from year to year, this is an invaluable resource in the event of illness or accidental injury. It can even be used to care for a family member. It is very important for employees to conserve a comfortable balance of sick leave to cover unexpected situations.

But what happens to those hours of sick leave when an employee departs? It depends on several factors.

The sick leave evaporates when an employee resigns, unless the worker returns to federal service to have the balance of sick leave hours restored. And under FERS, it also is lost when an employee retires. The only exception is if the employee who transferred to FERS had at least five years of creditable service under CSRS. In this case, the employee would receive credit for the lesser of the number of sick leave hours on the date of transfer or the number of hours on the date of retirement. FERS was patterned after corporate pensions, which typically do not factor in unused sick leave.

There are some who believe allowing credit for sick leave toward the FERS retirement computation would reduce sick leave abuse among employees, but Congress hasn't moved to take such action yet.

Getting Credit

In the computation of retirement annuities under CSRS, on the other hand, employees get credit for all of the sick leave hours they have accumulated. While this may create a temptation to preserve such leave, as I noted in my Jan. 19 column, it is generally better to use sick leave if you're in a situation where you're qualified to do so, rather than annual leave.

If you plan to retire at the end of a month or the first three days of a month, here's a tip (courtesy of reader John Pochodowicz) on figuring out how many hours of sick leave you will need to maintain to preserve your months and years of service.

Converting Unused Sick Leave
(CSRS/CSRS Offset/TransFERS)
2087 hours = 1 year
Months 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Days
0
1
2
3
4
5


0
6
12
17
23
29

174
180
186
191
197
203

348
354
360
365
371
377

522
528
533
539
545
551

696
702
707
713
719
725

870
875
881
887
893
899

1044
1049
1055
1061
1067
1073

1217
1223
1229
1235
1241
1246

1391
1397
1403
1409
1415
1420

1565
1571
1577
1583
1589
1594

1739
1745
1751
1757
1762
1768

1913
1919
1925
1931
1936
1942
6
7
8
9
1 0
35
41
46
52
58
209
215
220
226
232
383
388
394
400
406
557
562
568
574
580
731
736
742
748
754
904
910
916
922
928
1078
1084
1090
1096
1102
1252
1258
1264
1270
1275
1426
1432
1438
1444
1449
1600
1606
1612
1618
1623
1774
1780
1786
1791
1797
1948
1954
1960
1965
1971
11
12
13
14
15
64
70
75
81
87
238
244
249
255
261
412
417
423
429
435
586
591
597
603
609
760
765
771
777
783
933
939
945
951
957
1107
1113
1119
1125
1131
1281
1287
1293
1299
1304
1455
1461
1467
1473
1478
1629
1635
1641
1646
1652
1803
1809
1815
1820
1826
1977
1983
1989
1994
2000
16
17
18
19
20
93
99
104
110
116
267
273
278
284
290
441
446
452
458
464
615
620
626
632
638
789
794
800
806
812
962
968
974
980
986
1136
1142
1148
1154
1160
1310
1316
1322
1328
1333
1484
1490
1496
1502
1507
1658
1664
1670
1675
1681
1832
1838
1844
1849
1855
2006
2012
2018
2023
2029
21
22
23
24
25
122
128
133
139
146
296 301
307
313
319
470 475
481
487
493
643 649
655
661
667
817 823
829
835
841
991 997
1003
1009
1015
1165 1171
1177
1183
1188
1339 1345
1351
1357
1362
1513 1519
1525
1530
1536
1687 1693
1699
1704
1710
1861 1867
1873
1878
1884
2035 2041
2046
2052
2058
26
27
28
29
151
157
162
168
325
331
336
342
499
504
510
516
673
678
684
690
846
852
858
864
1020
1026
1032
1038
1194
1200
1206
1212
1368
1374
1380
1386
1542
1548
1554
1560
1716
1722
1728
1733
1890
1896
1902
1907
2064
2070
2075
2081

Tammy Flanagan is the senior benefits director for the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc., which conducts federal retirement planning workshops and seminars. She has spent 25 years helping federal employees take charge of their retirement by understanding their benefits.


By Tammy Flanagan

February 9, 2007

http://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/retirement-planning/2007/02/taking-your-sick-leave/23702/