Time to do some end-of-year planning. Whether laying out your annual leave calendar or eyeing retirement, dates matter.

Annual leave

As a rule, you accumulate annual leave hours based on your years of service. And you can use it subject to the right of your supervisor to schedule the time at which you can take it.

Since most of you can carry no more than 240 hours of annual leave from one year to the next, you need to plan to avoid losing any hours above that figure. Regardless of how many hours you have in the bank, you’ll need to schedule any end-of-year use no later than Nov. 24, 2019.


If you want to retire at the end of 2018, keep a few things in mind when picking the date. First, if you are a FERS employee, you’ll have to retire no later than the last day of a month to be on the annuity roll on the first day of the following month. If a CSRS employee, you’ll be able to retire no later than the third day of a month and be on the annuity roll in that month. However, your first month’s annuity will be reduced by 1/30 for every day you aren’t on the roll.

Second, to be eligible for a full cost-of-living adjustment in January 2020, you’ll have to retire no later than Nov. 30, 2018 (FERS), or Dec. 3, 2018 (CSRS). The pay period before those dates ends Nov. 24. It’s also important to note that you will receive a lump-sum payment for any unused annual leave. And only leave that’s credited at the end of a full pay period counts. So, if you leave before the end of a pay period, you won’t get credit for those extra days worked.

If you are more concerned with cash in your pocket than a full COLA in 2020, there are two more pay periods before the end of the year: Dec. 8 and Dec. 22. The date that ends the 2018 leave year is Jan. 5, 2019. Too late for you to be on the annuity roll in that month.

Finally, any sick leave you have to your credit when you retire will be added to your actual service and used in the computation of your annuity. The more you have the greater the impact.

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