Sick Leave Credit: The Calculations

Figuring how much your unused sick leave really adds to your retirement benefit.

Now let's see how such service translates into a retirement benefit, comparing examples of employees under the Civil Service Retirement System and FERS.

In my last two columns (March 19 and March 26) I've looked at the new policy that allows employees covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System to get credit for unused sick leave toward their basic retirement benefit. This week, as promised, I'll finish up the subject with some details on converting hours of sick leave to service to show exactly how much a typical retiree's monthly benefit will increase.

Let's start with the basics. Once an employee's retirement date is decided, the service computation date is subtracted from the retirement date to determine the amount of service the employee has toward retirement eligibility. Then, the unused sick leave is converted to additional service and added to the employee's length of creditable service to determine the years and months of service that will be used to compute the retirement benefit.

Here's a chart that makes it easy to convert hours of unused sick leave into additional 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
10
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


CSRS

Let's assume Casey is retiring on April 2, 2010, with 33 years and 18 days of total federal service, along with 1,800 hours of sick leave. Using the chart above, you can convert those hours to months and days of additional service. (Note that 1,800 is between 1,797 and 1,803 on the chart. In such cases, you should use the higher amount in your calculations.)

Here is how Casey's service will be factored:

Length of service for eligibility: 33 years, 18 days
Unused sick leave: 10 months, 11 days
Total: 33 years, 10 months, 29 days

Casey will have his retirement computed on 33 years and 10 months of service. The 29 days will be lost unless he changes his retirement date to Saturday, April 3. By adding an additional day of service in the computation of the retirement benefit, Casey can gain an extra month of service. (Remember, 30 days equals a month of service.) FERS

Let's say Fred retired March 31, 2010, with 23 years and 16 days of service. He had a balance of 1,800 hours of unused sick leave. (It accrued through March 27. Since Leave Period 8 ends on April 10, no leave would have accrued for that period). Under the new policy, the value of Fred's hours of sick leave will be reduced by 50 percent, to 900 hours. That converts to five months and six days of additional service.

Here is how Fred's service will be factored:

Length of service for eligibility: 23 years, 16 days
Unused sick leave: 5 months, 6 days
Total: 23 years, 5 months, 22 days

Fred will have his retirement computed on 23 years and five months of service. The 22 days will not be used to calculate the benefit. These days are equivalent to 128 hours of unused sick leave.

As in Casey's example, Fred could have changed his retirement date to gain an additional month of service. That would have required working an additional eight days, because all FERS retirements (except disability and discontinued service retirements) commence on the first day of the month. But I would have advised him not to do that. By retiring March 31, Fred will be entitled to his first FERS retirement benefit for the month of April. If he retired April 8, his first retirement benefit wouldn't be paid until May. He would have lost the retirement compensation for April 9 to April 30.

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.

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