What Unused Sick Leave at Retirement Might Mean For You

Members of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) may receive additional service credit for their unused, unpaid sick leave at retirement. If you’re a New York State employee, or if your employer has adopted Section 41(j) for the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) or 341(j) for the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) of the Retirement and Social Security Law, you may be eligible for this credit.

How It Works*

Your unused, unpaid sick leave may add up to 165 days (7½ months) to your service credit. The credit is calculated on a 260 annual workday basis—165 days divided by 260 days equals 7½ months—so you may receive an added credit of .63 of a year.

The additional credit for most ERS members can’t exceed 165 days. Most Tier 6 ERS members can receive up to 100 days (.38 of a year) of additional credit. For State employees in certain negotiating units, up to 200 days of unused, unpaid sick leave (.77 of a year) may be credited.

Also, depending on your employer, your unused sick leave may be used to cover some of the costs of your health insurance premiums during your retirement. (Please check with your employer for more information.)

*This section was revised on 12/5/14.

Calculation Example

If you have 130 unused, unpaid sick leave days when you retire, we would divide 130 by 260 and you would get .50 of a year, or 6 months, additional service credit.

Restrictions

While you may receive additional service credit for your sick leave under Sections 41(j) or 341(j), there are some restrictions. Credit for unused sick leave at retirement can’t be used to:

  • Qualify for vesting. For example, if you have nine years and ten months of service credit and you need ten years to be vested, your sick leave credit cannot be used to reach the ten years.
  • Qualify for a better retirement benefit calculation. For example, if you have 19¾ years of service credit, but your pension will improve substantially if you have 20 years, your sick leave credit cannot be used to reach the 20 years.
  • Increase your pension beyond the maximum amount payable under your retirement plan.
  • Meet the service credit requirement to retire under a special 20- or 25-year plan.

Check your retirement plan booklet for more information about this benefit. You can also check page 4 of your Member Annual Statement to see if this optional benefit is available to you.

24 thoughts on “What Unused Sick Leave at Retirement Might Mean For You

  1. ed

    For a Tier 1 member of the retirement system, is the sick leave at retirement limited to 165 days or can the full 200 ( if accrued)be used to add to the service credit?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      **Note: This response was revised 12/05/14**

      Ed,

      If you are a State employee, whether you are eligible to receive credit for 200 or 165 unused, unpaid sick days at retirement depends on your negotiating unit. If you can tell us your negotiating unit, we can answer your question. Your agency’s Human Resources’ office should be able to provide you with your negotiating unit, if you don’t already know it.

      If you work for a participating employer who has chosen to offer this benefit, you would be eligible to receive credit for 165 unused, unpaid sick days at retirement.

      NYSLRS

      Reply
  2. John R. Digman

    Please let me know if MC employees (06 bargaining unit) are eligible to receive for 200 unused, unpaid sick days at retirement. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS Post author

      John,

      Some MC employees in negotiating unit 06 are eligible for the 200-day sick leave benefit, however, certain restrictions do apply. We recommend that you contact us via our NYSLRS email form at https://nysosc9.osc.state.ny.us/product/ccsub.nsf/fsWeb?OpenFrameset to get more detailed information about the specifics of your question. One of our representatives should be in touch with you within 48 hours.

      We hope you find this helpful,
      NYSLRS

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Matthew,

      Because of the considerable variables involved, it’s impractical for us to publish a comprehensive point-in-time list. Whether you are eligible to receive credit for 200 or 165 unused, unpaid sick days at retirement depends on your negotiating unit. If the root of your question has to do with your circumstances, and you can tell us your negotiating unit, we can answer your question. Your employer’s Human Resources’ office should be able to provide you with your negotiating unit, if you don’t already know it.

      We hope you find this helpful,

      NYSLRS.

      Reply
  3. Gregory Cwiklinski

    I am tier 4 and eligible for this benefit. With the additional 7 1/2 months of service credit would this add yo my current service credit and allow me to reach my 30 years and retire early. Presently I have 2 1/2 years to go?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Credit for your unused sick leave at retirement cannot be used to qualify for a better retirement benefit calculation. In order to retire before age 62 with an unreduced benefit, you would need to earn 30 years of service credit before adding your sick leave credit.

      Reply
      1. LeRoy Blowers

        I think if this restriction was removed there would be more people retiring and more jobs available, at full SS retirement age the restriction should be removed.

        Reply
      2. LeRoy Blowers

        they should let people with 19 years service and being 65 use unpaid sick leave to get to 20 would also boost NYS tax income and the NYS retirement system. with those new employees.

        Reply
  4. Lou

    If i have 30 years in the system, but am only 52 1/2, can I retire immediately while waiting until 55 to receive payments? Can the sick leave credit still be applied in this case/

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      For most members, you cannot retire until age 55 (by “retire”, we mean apply for and begin receiving a retirement benefit). You may choose to go off public payroll before age 55, but there are certain benefits that you may not be eligible for if you go off the payroll before your retirement date. For example, if you are off payroll for more than one year before you retire, you would not be eligible for a post-retirement death benefit (for your designated beneficiaries), and you would not be eligible to use any sick leave credits towards retirement service.

      If you are considering leaving the payroll before age 55, we encourage you to contact one of our information representatives. They will be able to better assist you by reviewing your specific account information. Please email your question to our customer service representatives using our secure form. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.

      There may also be health insurance implications if you leave the payroll before your retirement date. The Retirement System does not administer health insurance programs, but if you are a State employee, contact New York State Civil Service. For all non-state employees, check with your employer’s benefits administrator.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      While it may be possible to use your sick leave credits for additional NYSLRS service credit at retirement (under Section 41-j or 341-j), we unfortunately can’t speak to how your sick leave might affect your health insurance premiums. NYSLRS does not administer health insurance programs.

      If you are a State employee, any questions you have concerning health insurance coverage in retirement should be directed to the New York State Department of Civil Service. You may also be able to find helpful information in the New York State Civil Service publication, Health Insurance Coverage and Related Benefits (PDF).

      If you are a non-State employee, please contact your employer health insurance benefits administrator.

      Reply
  5. john charvat

    I am allowed per the rules of my contract to sell back my sick time over the last 12 months of my employment, will this count towards my final average salary?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Generally payment for unused sick leave does not count toward your final average salary.

      However, to get the details for your specific tier and retirement plan, please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form (see link below). One of our representatives will review your account to address your question. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.

      http://www.emailNYSLRS.com

      Reply
  6. Paul Sebastian

    Is there an electronic sick leave credit calculator available? Or would make the calculation much easier to just “plug” in numbers on a webpage.

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Sorry, we don’t have an online calculator for sick leave credit, but we can explain how to calculate the credit. It’s easiest to think of it as a two-step process:

      1. Take your remaining hours of sick leave and divide them by the number of hours in a full-time day for your position.
      2. Now you have your remaining days of sick leave. To convert these to years, divide by 260.

      Please remember: You can’t use credit from unused sick leave to qualify for vesting; qualify for a better benefit calculation; increase your pension beyond the maximum payable under your plan; or meet the service credit requirement for a special 20- or 25-year plan. For more information, check your plan booklet, which is available from our Publications page.

      Reply
      1. Paul Sebastian

        Ok. I am able to lower the cost,of my health insurance after I retire, based on my sick leave hours I have on the books when I retire.

        How do I figure out how much my health insurance will cost when I retire?

        Reply
        1. NYSLRS

          NYSLRS doesn’t administer health insurance programs for its members or retirees. If you are still working, you should check with your health benefits administrator to find out how much your health insurance will cost.

          For New York State retirees, the New York State Department of Civil Service administers the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP). You can visit their website or call them at 1-800-833-4344 (518-457-5754 in the Albany, New York area) to learn more.

          If you work for a public employer other than New York State (a county, city, town, village or school district), your employer’s health benefits administrator should be able to help you.

          Reply
  7. Clare Guadagnino

    So, if you can’t use the sick leave credits to retire early or get a better pension, then I may as well use them up. I am a Tier 4. I currently have 94 sick days and want to retire at age 62 in approximately 2 1/2 years. I will then have 28.6 years in the system….what exactly is the additional sick credit used for?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Your total service credit is a factor in your retirement benefit calculation. Additional service credit from unused, unpaid sick leave can increase your total service credit if your employer has adopted the sick leave benefit.

      If you have 94 unused, unpaid sick days at retirement, that may translate into extra service credit on top of your 28.6 years.

      Please email our customer service representatives using our secure email form to find out if your employer offers this benefit, and how it would affect your pension. One of our representatives can review your account to address your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information. Please allow five to seven business days for a response.

      Reply

Leave a Reply