Retirement Planning Retirement PlanningRetirement Planning
Advice on how to prepare for life after government.

Sick Leave Credit: The Details

ARCHIVES
Last week's column on crediting sick leave toward the basic retirement benefit under the Federal Employees Retirement System sparked quite a few comments and requests for more details. Let's take a closer look at the subject.

Some readers weren't impressed with the value of the credit. Here are two examples:

  • I am retiring this year with over 1,900 hours of sick leave on the books. I never abused the sick leave for various reasons: in case I should ever become ill or injured to the point that I couldn't work; because my workload continues to grow if I'm away from work; and integrity. My monthly pension will increase by a whopping $21.46 per month. That's the kind of reward we receive for being devoted and loyal employees. The sad thing is that those employees who've done it the way I have are few and far between.
  • It doesn't matter to me, because I plan to use as much sick leave as possible. I say take a day off as often as you can once you know you're going to retire!

It's true that the additional retirement benefit gained from crediting a day of unused sick doesn't compare to the value of a day of salary. But it's better than no credit at all. Here are some interesting facts that I found in a 2004 Congressional Research Service report:

"Until 1969, CSRS employees forfeited any unused sick leave at the time of their retirement. At that time, the Civil Service Commission (now the Office of Personnel Management) estimated that about half of all retiring federal employees had zero sick leave balances, and the other half had an average of about 44 days (352 hours) of sick leave that were forfeited at retirement. Also, a House Post Office and Civil Service Committee report noted that retiring employees used an average of 40 days (320 hours) of sick leave during their last year of employment.

"In 1969, Congress enacted legislation (P.L. 91-93) to permit CSRS employees to receive service credit for unused sick leave in the computation of their retirement annuities. … This change in policy was expected to reduce federal employees' use of sick leave and to grant limited recognition to those who prudently utilized their sick leave. In 1986, the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) examined the implementation of this change in policy, and reported that employees who retired in 1984 and 1985 had significantly higher sick leave balances than employees who retired in 1968, before the law was changed."

Isn't it interesting to see how history repeats itself? By the way, don't forget that federal agencies can require employees to submit evidence of illness before approving sick leave.

Who Gets Credit?

Some readers were not sure exactly who is eligible to receive the credit for leftover sick leave:

  • I noted that your calculation under FERS called for 20 years of creditable service. I am under FERS, but when I retire, will have only 17 or 18 years of government service. Is someone with less than 20 years of creditable service still entitled to the sick leave credit?
  • What happens to the sick leave benefit if a person already has retired?
  • I am a permanent part-time employee. I presently have 267 hours of sick leave built up. Will I be able to cash in any of this, since I will never collect a FERS pension? I am presently 63. Not sure when or how long I will stay.
  • What is the policy on unused sick leave accrued for personnel working in the retired annuitant status when their term of employment expires?

To be eligible to credit your unused sick leave toward your FERS retirement benefit, you must be eligible for an immediate annuity -- that is, one that begins within 30 days of your separation from federal service. It is not limited to employees with 20 years of service. An immediate annuity is payable to employees who retire at 62 with as little as five years of service, or at 60 with 20 years. The annuity also is available for employees who retire under FERS with a reduced annuity at the minimum retirement age (55-57) with at least 10 years of service.

The law allowing credit for unused sick leave passed on Oct. 28, 2009. It was not made retroactive, so those who retired prior to its enactment will not receive credit for their unused sick leave.

If an employee working under a part-time appointment qualifies for immediate retirement, he or she can credit unused sick leave in the same manner as other FERS employees. Part-time service is treated as full time for eligibility purposes -- but not for computation of benefits.

Re-employed annuitants (retirees) who have their salaries offset by the amount of their retirement benefit can have their retirement benefits recomputed if they are re-employed for a minimum of five years and have paid retirement contributions. Those who are re-employed with retirement coverage for at least one year qualify for a supplemental annuity benefit added to their original retirement. Annuitants who are eligible for recomputed or supplemental annuities are eligible for credit of their unused sick leave. But annuitants who are re-employed under special authority in which they continue to receive retirement benefits do not earn additional benefits and will not receive credit for unused sick leave.

In addition to these questions, many people wanted the details on converting hours of sick leave to service to figure out exactly how much their monthly benefit would increase. I'll cover that in next week's column.

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.

For more retirement planning help, tune in to "For Your Benefit," presented by the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc. live on Monday mornings at 10 a.m. ET on federalnewsradio.com or on WFED AM 1500 in the Washington metro area.

Tammy Flanagan has spent 30 years helping federal employees take charge of their retirement by understanding their benefits. She runs her own consulting business at www.tammyflanagan.com and provides individual counseling as well as online training for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, Plan Your Federal Retirement as well as the Federal Long Term Care insurance Program. She also serves as the senior benefits director for the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc., which conducts federal retirement planning workshops and seminars.

For more retirement planning help, tune in to "For Your Benefit," presented by the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc. live on Federal News Radio on Mondays at 10 a.m. ET on WFED AM 1500 in the Washington-metro area. Archived shows are available on NITPInc.com.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.