Separating From Federal Service: FAQs
If you have separated from federal service, this page has frequently asked questions.
What happens to my Annual and Sick Leave?
After the separation personnel action is processed, a lump-sum payment for any unused annual leave is generated. Deductions of Social Security (if applicable), Medicare, Federal, and State tax will be taken out. Lump-sum annual leave payments are not subject to retirement deductions.
The National Business Center, Payroll Office will ensure that all salary you are due must have been paid before the payroll records can be closed from the system. If you are due a lump-sum payment for annual leave, you should receive it in about 4 to 6 weeks after the effective date of your separation/completion of the personnel action and will be deposited your bank account.
Should you be reemployed in the Federal service prior to the expiration of the period of annual leave (i.e., the lump-sum leave period), notify the Agency that you have recently left another Federal Agency as you must refund the portion of the lump-sum payment that represents the period between the date of reemployment and the expiration of the lump-sum period. Find more information on Lump Sum Payments for Annual Leave at OPM.gov.
You are not paid for any unused sick leave at time of separation. It is re-credited to you if you are reemployed in the Federal Government.
Leave accrues only when a complete pay period has been worked (when an employee has completed their scheduled tour of duty for the pay period). Separating before the scheduled tour of duty is completed (i.e. any day of a pay period before completing all required hours for the pay period) will result in not earning leave for that pay period. Thus, your lump-sum payment could be less than you had anticipated.
I am enrolled in Health Benefits. What happens after I leave?
Your health insurance coverage in the Federal Employee's Health Benefits Program (FEHB) will end on the last day of the pay period in which you separated from Federal service. You have a 31-day temporary extension of coverage at no cost to you. If you will not be enrolling in benefits with another employer, in addition to converting to a non-group contract through TCC, or consider health insurance coverage options available through the health insurance marketplace. A SF-2810, Notification of Change in Health Benefits Enrollment is emailed or mailed to separating employees enrolled in FEHB at the time of separation.
In the event you want to convert to a non-group contract, contact your FEHB carrier directly. You also have the right to continue your FEHB coverage for up to 18 months after your separation under Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC). Under TCC you may select any plan in the FEHB Program if you are eligible to enroll in the plan. You must pay the full amount of the premium (both the employee and Government shares (104%)) plus a 2 percent administrative charge. TCC enrollment and premium charges begin on the day after the 31-day period of free coverage ends. If you continue TCC to the end of the 18-month period, you will have another 31-day extension of coverage with opportunity for conversion to a non-group contract. If you decide to enroll in coverage under TCC, a completed SF-2809, Health Benefits Election Form must be received at the address shown below within 60 days after the date of separation or 65 days after the date of this notice, whichever is later. Bring or mail your election form to:
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Human Resources Attn: JAO-HR
1875 Century Blvd
Atlanta, GA 30345
For additional information, please visit Temporary Continuance of Coverage (TCC) at OPM.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) did not eliminate TCC or change the TCC rules. If you would like to learn more about the ACA including the health insurance marketplace, please visit Healthcare.gov.
Note that retirees who meet specific conditions can continue their FEHB into retirement.
I am enrolled in Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance. What happens after I leave?
If you have life insurance coverage it will continue to be in effect for up to 31 days past your separation date at no cost to you. You will have the opportunity to convert to a non-group whole life policy for 31 days after receiving separation paperwork. A SF-2819 Notice of Conversion Privilege Federal Employees Group Life Insurance and SF-2821 Agency Certification of Insurance are emailed or mailed to employees enrolled in FEGLI at the time of separation.
Note that retirees who meet specific conditions can continue their FEGLI into retirement.
I am enrolled in Federal Employees' Dental and/or Vision Insurance Program. What happens after I leave?
If you are enrolled in a Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance plan, your coverage terminates at the end of the pay period in which you separate. There is no extension of coverage or opportunity to convert to an individual policy.
For more information regarding FEDVIP, please go to the OPM website or the BENEFEDS portal.
Note that retirees can continue their Dental or Vision Insurance into retirement.
What are my Retirement Options if I leave my federal job before becoming eligible for retirement?
Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Options
You can ask that your retirement contributions be returned to you in a lump sum payment, if you wish to withdraw your retirement funds, you must complete an SF-3102 Application for Refund for Retirement Deductions, include a copy of your separation SF-50 and mail it directly to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) 30 days after you have separated. You should receive your refund in approximately 4-6 weeks.
- If you think you may return to federal service, you can leave the money alone.
- If you have at least 5 years of creditable civilian service you can wait until you are retirement age to apply for monthly retirement benefit payments. This is called a deferred retirement.
- Note about FERS Refunded Service, If you have civilian service for which you received a refund of your retirement deductions. FERS allows for repayment of refunded retirement deductions. The service will be used to determine retirement eligibility. However, OPM will not use this service to compute your annuity unless you repay the refunded amount plus interest.
Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Options
- You can ask that your retirement contributions be returned to you in a lump sum payment, If you wish to withdraw your retirement funds, you must complete a SF-2802 Application for Refund for Retirement Deductions , include a copy of your separation SF-50 and mail it directly to OPM 30 days after you have separated. You should receive your refund in approximately 4-6 weeks.
- If you have five or more years of civilian service, you can wait until you are retirement age to apply for monthly retirement benefit payments. This is called a deferred retirement.
If you get a refund of your retirement contributions now, you will no longer be eligible to receive monthly payments when you reach retirement age, unless you are later reemployed subject to the Civil Service Retirement System or the Federal Employees Retirement System.
If your break in service is more than 1 year, you will be re-employed as a CSRS-OFFSET employee (with a 6-month option to transfer to FERS). CSRS and SOCIAL SECURITY cover CSRS-OFFSET employee. The retirement system you come back should be explained to you upon reemployment.
Redeposit of CSRS Service Performed Prior to 3/1/91 - If you have service for which you received a refund of retirement deductions prior to 3/1/91. This service will be used to determine your eligibility for retirement and to compute your annuity. The service credit also reflects a reduction for non-payment of the refunded service. This is an actuarial reduction if not paid. It is based on your age at retirement and the amount of redeposit owed plus interest. This reduction will continue as long as you receive an annuity.
Redeposit of CSRS Service Performed on or after 3/1/91 - Your civilian service includes service for which you received a refund of retirement deductions on or after 3/1/91. This service is used to determine your eligibility for retirement. However, OPM will not use this service to compute your annuity unless you repay the refunded amount plus interest.
If you are reemployed and want to make a deposit, you will complete and submit the SF 2803, Application to Make Deposit or Redeposit Civil Service Retirement System via mySupport.
I am enrolled in Long Term Care (LTC) Insurance. What happens after I leave?
Long term care (LTC) insurance is completely portable. This means that once you enroll in the program, you will remain enrolled as long as you pay the premiums on a current basis. It doesn't matter if you leave Federal service, divorce your Federal spouse, or otherwise lose your affiliation to the Federal family. You will need to make arrangements with LTC Partners to ensure premiums are not interrupted. The toll-free phone number is 1-800-582-3337 (TTY 1-800-843-3557). Consultants are available Mon - Fri, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time.
If you are not currently covered by LTC, you may apply for this coverage directly with LTC Partners via their website, LTCFeds.com. You will be required to apply using the full underwriting application. Applications may be submitted at anytime.
I have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). What happens after I leave?
If you separate before the end of the Plan Year, the balances in your Dependent Care FSA and Health Care FSA are treated differently. Your HCFSA will terminate as of the date of your separate. There are no extensions. Any health care expenses incurred prior to the date of separation will still be reimbursable but those incurred after the date of separation will not. You can continue to use the remaining balance in your DCFSA to pay for eligible dependent care expenses until the end of the Plan Year or until your account balance is used up, whichever comes first. Balances remaining in the two accounts cannot be dispersed through a lump-sum payment to you. For additional information on the FSA program refer to FSAFeds.com or contact them at 1-877-FSAFEDS (372-3337).
Is there a summary of insurance options upon separation?
The Office of Personnel Management has a life events web page that summarizes benefits when and employee is leaving Federal Service and not retiring. You can find it here.
I have a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account. What are my options after I leave?
If covered by retirement:
If you are enrolled in TSP when you separate, you have several options. Please visit TSP's Leaving the Federal Government for more information.
First, you are not required to make a decision about your TSP at the time of separation. If you have an account balance of $200 or more, you may leave your money invested in your TSP account and can make interfund transfers, transfer eligible money into your account, and enjoy the low administrative costs of the TSP.
After separation, there are four important things for you to be aware of:
- If you decide to leave your money in the TSP, will need to begin receiving payments by April 1 of the year following the year in which you turn age 70 1/2.
- Your Participant Statements will continue to be available on the TSP web site; or if you prefer you can request TSP mail your personal Participant Statement. Read the TSP Highlights for up-to-date information.
- Once separated, you will deal directly with the TSP Board and need wait at least 2 pay periods after your separation date. If you are contributing to TSP at the time of separation, then our payroll office will automatically send the separation codes electronically to the TSP Service Office at the National Finance Center (NFC). Your separation flows through our electronic systems to the TSP service office. Therefore, if you submit forms prior to TSP receiving notice of your separation electronically, it will delay processing because they will more than likely return your forms as their system will show you are not eligible to make a withdrawal. But if you are not contributing to the TSP when you separate then please notify your servicing Human Resources office if you are going to withdraw from your TSP account. The HR office will notify payroll and a TSP-5 manual transfer of separation code will be submitted to the TSP Service Office at NFC.
I am leaving while on Career-Conditional Status. If I return to federal service will my time as a career-conditional employee be creditable for career tenure?
If you return to Career-Conditional employment time previously served is credited for the 3-year period of creditable service required for career tenure.
What happens if I leave during my Probationary Period?
If separated before completing your probationary period and you return to same line of work in 30 days, time previously served is credited. If return is greater than 30 days, you start the probationary period over.
What happens to my Eligibility for Reinstatement to Competitive Service?
There is no time limit on the reinstatement eligibility of a veteran’s preference eligible or a person who completed the service requirement for career tenure. A non-preference eligible who did not complete the service requirement for career tenure has reinstatement eligibility for three years from the date of separation. Certain intervening service, such as temporary service or non-appropriated fund employment may extend the three-year period. For additional information, please visit OPM's reinstatement page.
How do make sure I receive my W-2?
If you move prior to the end of the calendar year, you will need to let the JAO Human Resources Operations Payroll and Compensation Office know your new address. The HR Office will notify the appropriate payroll representative of the new address. This will ensure your W-2 will be mailed to the proper address. If you fail to change your address, your W-2 will be mailed to the address of record.
Active employees are encouraged to update their official mailing address and contact information keeping it current when changes occur. Prior to separation, address changes may be made through Employee Express (EEX) to update employees’ mailing address and contact information. Once separated access to EEX is automatically terminated.
How will I get a Leave and Earnings statement?
Upon separation, leave and earnings statements are automatically mailed to the employee’s address of record.
What happens to my Compensatory Time if I was unable to use it before separation?
Compensatory time will be paid out for fair labor standards act (FLSA) non-exempt employees. For FLSA exempt employees, if the agency decides to pay a FLSA exempt employee their unused compensatory time, supervisors can complete form A-02 “Authorization for Expired Compensatory Time to be Paid as Overtime”, the supervisor must certify that the employee was unable to use the compensatory time due to an exigency of service beyond their control. This will be done before an automatic generation of a lump sum leave payment. The A-02 request will be routed from FWS payroll to the IBC-Payroll Operations Branch.
I want to file for Unemployment Compensation. Where do I get the forms I need?
If you want to file for unemployment compensation, you will do so with your state unemployment office. The Standard Form 8, Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employment (UCFE) Program is mailed to you with a copy of your final SF-50, Notification of Personnel action and provides you with information you need when you file.
How do I get information from my Personnel Records?
Your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) is normally transferred to the National Personnel Records Center's (NPRC) Official Personnel Folders (OPF), Archival Holdings and Access, within 90 to 120 days after separation from Federal employment. If less than 120 days have elapsed since separation and you need information from your OPF, write to your last servicing Human Resources Office. Thereafter, send your request to the NPRC. Please state in your letter the information you are seeking and be sure your request contains the individual's or authorized representative's handwritten in cursive and dated signature. The Privacy Act of 1974 and the Office of Personnel Management directives require a written request, signed and dated, to access information from civilian personnel records. Written authorization of the person of record, or proof of that person's death, is also needed. Include in your letter the following information pertaining to the record sought:
1. Full name used during Federal employment;
2. Social Security Number;
3. Date of Birth;
4. Name(s) of Federal employing agency(s); and,
5. Approximate dates of Federal employment, especially separation.
National Personnel Records Center Annex
Civilian Personnel Records
1411 Boulder Boulevard
Valmeyer, IL 62295
Or the request may be faxed to:
(618) 935-3014 or (618) 935-3019
Will I still have access to Employee Express?
A separated employee will have access to Employee Express (to pull LES, check past earnings, etc.) until the Wednesday after the pay period ends. After that, a separated employee will no longer have access to the Employee Express site. Employees are encouraged to download any LES copies they wish to retain prior to separation and EEX losing access. The employee’s final LES will be mailed to the official mailing address by the Departments payroll office (IBC) following the employee’s last pay period.
What forms should I expect upon separation?
Generally within 30 days of separation, you will receive a letter at your address of record.
- SF-50, Notification of Personnel Action
- SF-8, Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees Program
As applicable it will include:
- SF-2810, Notice of Change in Health Enrollment
- Information Temporary Continuation of Coverage under FEHB
- SF-2821, Agency Certification of Insurance
- SF-2819, Notice of Conversion Privilege Federal Employees Group Life Insurance