# Sick Leave Credit: The Calculations

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.