What Unused Sick Leave Might Mean For You at Retirement

If you’ve accumulated unused, unpaid sick leave, you may be able to use it toward your NYSLRS pension benefit.

New York State employees are eligible for this benefit. You also may be eligible 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 Retirement and Social Security Law. Not sure? Ask your employer or check your Member Annual Statement.

Here’s How It Works

Your additional service credit is determined by dividing your total unused, unpaid sick leave days by 260. Most ERS members can get credit for up to 165 days (7½ months) of unused sick leave. The benefit is capped at 100 days (4½ months) for most Tier 6 members. State employees in certain negotiating units may be able to use 200 days (about nine months). Those extra “months” would be used in calculating your retirement benefit.

Also, depending on your employer, your unused sick leave may be used to cover some health insurance costs during your retirement. Please check with your employer for information about health insurance.

Restrictions

Unused sick leave cannot be used to reach NYSLRS retirement milestones. Let’s say you have 19½ years of service credit. At 20 years, your pension calculation would improve substantially. You also have 130 days of unused sick leave. Can you add the six months of sick leave credit to get you to 20 years? No. Retirement law does not permit it. You’ll have to work those extra six months to get the 20-year benefit rate, though sick leave credits can still be used in your final pension calculation.

Also, credit for unused sick can’t be used to:

  • Qualify for vesting
  • Reach a minimum retirement age
  • Increase your pension beyond the maximum allowed under your retirement plan
  • Meet the service credit requirement for a special 20- or 25-year plan

Check your retirement plan booklet for more information.

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

    1. NYSLRS Post author

      Unused accumulated annual leave isn’t applied toward service credit. However, some tiers may include payment for up to 30 days of unused vacation in your final average salary (FAS).

      For more information, please check out our Final Average Salary page on our website, or check out your retirement plan booklet on our Publications page.

      Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      Your additional service credit is determined by dividing your unused sick leave days by 260.

      To get account-specific information, you can email our customer service representatives using our secure email form, and one of them will 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
  1. Ron Izzo

    Is there a maximum dollar amount that can be used for sick leave credit? I heard there is a limit of $80,000. is this true? so if my daily pay rate is $500 x 165 sick days = $82,500 i would be over the $80,000 limit

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      The NYSLRS sick leave credit benefit converts unused, unpaid sick leave into service credit, so the limit is a number of days (up to 165 days—7½ months—for most ERS members), not a dollar amount.

      Some employees have a benefit that allows them to convert unused sick leave into a health insurance credit, however NYSLRS doesn’t administer health insurance benefits. If this is the benefit you’re asking about, you should check with your employer about any limits.

      If you have questions about a NYSLRS benefit, we recommend emailing our customer service representatives using our secure email form. One of our representatives will review your account and respond to your questions. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

      Reply
  2. Kim Nowakowski

    What if you retire at 55 from job but dont take pension until 62? Do you still get 41j or must you immediately retire and collect?

    Reply
    1. NYSLRS

      To receive service credit for your unused, unpaid sick leave days at retirement (41j), you must retire (collect your pension) directly from public employment or within a year of separating from service.

      Reply
  3. William Collins

    So if I retire at 57 with 30.13 years of services in July, but have 133 days of unused sick time that can be applied toward retirement, would that raise my age of retirement to 58? If so, what is the percentage penalty for retiring at 58 versus 57 despite having 30+ years of service credit?

    Reply
    1. William Collins

      Disregard. 55 YOA + 30 years for full retirement benefits. Going at 62 just maxes out the total pension amount.

      Reply
      1. NYSLRS

        Whether you have a cap on the number of years you can use toward your pension depends on your retirement plan and tier. For account-specific information, you can email our customer service representatives using the secure email form on our website. Filling out the secure form allows us to safely contact you about your personal account information.

        Reply
    2. NYSLRS

      For most Tier 3 and 4 members, if you are already over age 55 with 30 years of service you can retire at any time without any penalty. Eligible members may be able to convert unused, unpaid sick leave into extra service credit, which generally would increase your pension. For more information about your retirement plan, you can read your retirement plan booklet, which is available on our Publications page.

      Reply

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