Misconceptions About Sick Leave Credit

The author explains some common misconceptions about how sick leave is credited for retirement purposes.

Since 1969 CSRS employees have been getting full credit for their sick leave in computing their pensions.  Changes within the last few years have allowed FERS employees to get half credit for their sick leave for retirements up through 12/31/13 and full credit thereafter.  Unused sick leave cannot be used to add to an employee’s length of service for the purpose of reaching retirement eligibility.  It will, however, add to the employee’s length of service for the purpose of computing their pension once they have reached retirement eligibility.

There are several misconceptions about how sick leave is credited for retirement purposes.  The most common one is that an individual must have their sick leave in even month increments in order for it to increase one’s length of service.  This is not true.

While it is true that only years and months (not days) of service are used for length of service purposes, the extra days are not dropped from the computation until sick leave is added to time actually worked.  The following example will help explain.

An employee’s length of service is determined by subtracting their retirement service computation date (SCD) from the date they retire.  Be aware that for some people the retirement SCD may be different from the leave accrual SCD that appears on an individual’s SF-50.  If you have any doubt as to your retirement SCD, consult with your benefits specialist, check your annual benefits statement or utilize your agency’s automated HR system (e.g., EBIS, etc.)

Retirement Date20121231
Length of Service320716

Sick leave is converted from hours to months and days of service and is then added to the computation.

Length without S/L320716
S/L credit 0821
Total length of service330407

At this point, the seven remaining days of service are dropped. In the above example, once we have completed the math and dropped the excess days, the 8 months and 21 days of sick leave resulted in a 9 month increase in length of service.

The crediting of sick leave is covered in pre-retirement seminars. All employees nearing retirement should take advantage of any pre-retirement training offered by their agency.

Agencies can request to have John Grobe, or another of Federal Career Experts' qualified instructors, deliver a retirement or transition seminar to their employees. FCE instructors are not financial advisers and will not sell or recommend financial products to class participants. Agency Benefits Officers can contact John Grobe at johnfgrobe@comcast.net to discuss schedules and costs.

About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a firm that provides pre-retirement training and seminars to a wide variety of federal agencies. FCE’s instructors are all retired federal retirement specialists who educate class participants on the ins and outs of federal retirement and benefits; there is never an attempt to influence participants to invest a certain way, or to purchase any financial products. John and FCE specialize in retirement for special category employees, such as law enforcement officers.