The Federal Government will Become America's Model Employer for the 21st Century.
Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People.
Review the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Handbook
Answering your questions about Healthcare and Insurance
Human Resources and Security Specialists should use this tool to determine the correct investigation level for any covered position within the U.S. Federal Government.
OPM’s Human Resources Solutions organization can help your agency answer this critically important question.
Developing senior leaders in the U.S. Government through Leadership for a Democratic Society, Custom Programs and Interagency Courses.
Visit this federal site to search for our regulatory notices, proposed and final rules.
See the latest tweets on our Twitter feed, like our Facebook pages, watch our YouTube videos, and page through our Flickr photos.
Under the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015 (Public Law 114-75, November 5, 2015), an employee hired on or after November 5, 2016, who is a veteran with a service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or more from the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs is entitled to up to 104 hours of disabled veteran leave for the purposes of undergoing medical treatment for such disability.
An eligible employee will receive the appropriate amount of disabled veteran leave as of the employee’s “first day of employment,” as defined below. Disabled veteran leave is a one-time benefit provided to an eligible employee. The employee will have a single, continuous 12-month eligibility period, beginning on the “first day of employment” in which to use the leave or it will be forfeited with no opportunity to carry over the leave into subsequent years. An employee may not receive a lump-sum payment for any unused or forfeited leave under any circumstance.
The new disabled veteran leave regulations include defined terms under 5 CFR 630.1303. Below are definitions of some key terms that will be helpful when reading this fact sheet.
Employee. Has the same meaning as provided for in the definition of “employee” under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code.
Employment. Service as an employee during which the employee is covered by a leave system under which leave is charged for periods of absence, but excluding service in a position in which the employee is not covered by 5 U.S.C. 6329 due to application of another statutory authority.
First day of employment. The first day of service that qualifies as employment that occurs on or after the later of—
Hired. The action (on or after November 5, 2016) of—
Qualifying service-connected disability. A veteran’s service-connected disability rated at 30 percent or more (as determined by VBA), including a combined degree of disability of 30 percent or more that reflects the combined effect of multiple individual disabilities. A temporary disability rating issued under 38 U.S.C. 1156 is valid for as long as it is in effect.
Service-Connected. Refers to a disability that was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty in the active military, naval, or air service (as determined by VBA), as defined under 38 U.S.C. 101(16).
Veteran. A person who served on active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable, as defined under 38 U.S.C. 101(2).
Back to top
There are several requirements that must be met in order for an employee to be eligible for disabled veteran leave under OPM’s regulations. Those requirements are that an employee must—
*Employees of the United States Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission are not considered employees in the civil service under 5 U.S.C. 2105, except as otherwise provided by law. The disabled veteran law in 5 U.S.C. 6329 expressly provides that Postal employees are covered civil service employees under that law, but are subject to regulations prescribed by the Postmaster General.
** A disability rating of 30 percent or more includes a rating of one disability rated at 30 percent or more, or a combined degree of disability of 30 percent or more that reflects the combined effect of multiple individual disabilities. A temporary disability rating issued under 38 U.S.C. 1156 is valid for as long as it is in effect.
The following categories of employees are not covered by the new disabled veteran leave authority:
An eligible employee may only use disabled veteran leave during the continuous 12-month eligibility period beginning on the “first day of employment.” The 12-month eligibility period is determined after the agency has established that an employee is eligible to receive disabled veteran leave. As explained in the Definitions section of this fact sheet, the first day of employment is the later of—
By law, disabled veteran leave is available only to an eligible employee who is “hired” on or after November 5, 2016. (See Definitions section.) In the scenarios discussed below, a qualifying hiring date is presumed.
Many employees will have a qualifying VBA disability rating in effect before they are hired. For these employees, the 12-month eligibility period will begin on the date the employee is hired because the date of hire is the later date.
Some employees may be hired before a qualifying VBA disability rating has been determined. These employees may be waiting for a pending VBA disability rating or file a VBA disability rating claim after the date the employee is hired. An employee who does not have a qualifying VBA disability rating at the time of hire can establish eligibility for disabled veteran leave at a later time. For these employees, whether the hiring date or the effective date of the qualifying disability rating is the start date of the 12-month eligibility period will depend on exact circumstances. The effective date could be before or after the hiring date. The later of the two dates will be the start date of the 12-month eligibility period.
Some possible scenarios are described below:
An employee may only use credited disabled veteran leave during the 12-month period beginning on the “first day of employment.” An employee will only have one 12-month eligibility period established based upon his or her “first day of employment.”
The 12-month eligibility period expires one day before the anniversary date of the first day of employment. For example, if the first day of employment is December 6, the 12-month eligibility period expires on December 5 of the next year. The 12-month eligibility period is not extended because of a break in service.
In order to demonstrate eligibility for disabled veteran leave, an employee must submit documentation from VBA certifying the service-connected disability rating and its effective date to the employing agency. An agency cannot credit disabled veteran leave until the employee provides the necessary certifying documentation.
Once an agency has confirmed eligibility for disabled veteran leave, the agency must credit an eligible employee with the appropriate amount of disabled veteran leave as of the “first day of employment.”
An employee under a regular full-time work schedule will receive an initial crediting of 104 hours of disabled veteran leave. An employee who has a part-time or seasonal work schedule or an uncommon tour of duty will receive a proportionally equivalent amount of disabled veteran leave initially credited based upon the hours in the employee’s work schedule. (See 5 CFR 630.1305(b).) The initial crediting of hours may be subject to offset (reduction), as shown in the table below and discussed in the next section.
*Where “h” represents the hours in the established tour for the period of time designated (i.e., 80 hours for a biweekly pay period and 2,080 hours for a 52-week annual period). For part-time employees, the hours are based on the scheduled part-time tour established for the purpose of charging leave when absent.
When determining the amount of disabled veteran leave to credit to an employee, an agency must offset the initial crediting of disabled veteran leave by—
An employee may have a sick leave balance as of the first day of employment in the following situations:
For an employee who was granted an “equivalent” disabled veteran leave benefit under an authority other than 5 U.S.C. 6329, eligibility for disabled veteran leave under section 6329 is determined at the point the employee moves to a position covered by section 6329. Employment in a noncovered position cannot trigger the first day of employment under section 6329. (See definition of “employment” in 5 CFR 630.1303.)
However, OPM regulations provide that, if 12 months have elapsed since the commencing date of the eligibility period for using the equivalent benefit, the employee is considered to have received the full benefit (regardless of the number of hours actually used), which totally offsets (i.e., eliminates) the section 6329 benefit (5 CFR 630.1305(e)(2)).
If the employee is still within that 12-month period, OPM regulations provide that the section 6329 leave benefit is offset by the number of hours of equivalent disabled veteran leave (under another authority) that were used by the employee (5 CFR 630.1305(e)(3)). (There is no additional offset based on the employee’s sick leave balance; however, the number of hours of disabled veteran leave used may be adjusted if those hours were used under a different work schedule, consistent with 5 CFR 630.1305(c).) In that case, the employee would be able to use any remaining disabled veteran leave during the 12-month eligibility period established under section 6329 (i.e., the period starting on the date of first employment in a position covered by section 6329).
When an employee is converted to a different tour of duty for leave purposes, including in conjunction with movement to a different agency, the employee’s balance of unused disabled veteran leave must be converted to the proper number of hours based on the proportion of hours in the new tour of duty compared to the former tour of duty. For seasonal employees, hours must be annualized in determining the proportion. (See 5 CFR 630.1305(c).)
For example, if an employee has a balance of 60 hours of disabled veteran leave and changes from a full-time schedule (80 hours per biweekly pay period) to a half-time schedule (part-time schedule of 40 hours per biweekly pay period), the 60-hour balance would be converted to a 30-hour balance [60 x (40/80) = 30].
These balance conversion rules do not apply to disabled veteran leave that was credited to a U.S. Postal Service or Postal Regulatory Commission employee under Postmaster General regulations, since those regulations do not provide for variable crediting of hours based on type of work schedule. OPM defers to the Postmaster General regulations on crediting; thus, when an employee moves from a Postal agency to a non-Postal agency, the non-Postal agency may not apply the conversion rule in OPM regulations to a disabled veteran leave benefit originally established under Postmaster General regulations—even if there is a change in work schedule upon movement to the non-Postal agency or later changes in work schedule. The balance at the time of separation under Postmaster General regulations will be carried over and will be adjusted during the 12-month eligibility period only when hours of disabled veteran leave are used.
Disabled veteran leave may only be used for the medical treatment of a qualifying service-connected disability, which includes any individual disability that is part of a combined disability rating of at least 30 percent. Medical treatment may include a period of rest, but only if the period of rest is specifically ordered by the employee’s health care provider as part of a prescribed course of treatment for the qualifying service-connected disability. Qualifying medical treatment may be provided or prescribed by any health care provider who is covered by the definition of “health care provider” in OPM’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations at 5 CFR 630.1202.
An employee must file an application to use disabled veteran leave in a manner the employing agency requires. This can be written, orally, or in electronic format. The application must include a personal self-certification by the employee that the leave will be (or was) used for purposes of being furnished medical treatment for a qualifying service-connected disability. Unless the need for leave is critical and unforeseeable (e.g., a medical emergency or the unexpected availability of an appointment for surgery or other critical treatment), the employee must request the leave in advance, within the time limits the agency may require, and specify the specific days and hours of absence required for the medical treatment.
An employee is permitted to retroactively substitute disabled veteran leave for other forms of leave or time off taken for the purpose of receiving treatment for a qualifying disability (excluding periods of absence without leave (AWOL) or suspension, but including forms such as leave without pay (LWOP), sick leave, annual leave, compensatory time off, or other paid time off) when the leave or time off was taken during the employee’s 12-month eligibility period for the medical treatment of a qualifying disability. Retroactive substitution may be necessary when an employee has a pending claim under review by VBA that is later approved with a retroactive effective date. In that situation, the employee should keep documentation or records relating to medical treatment of a condition that may later be covered as a qualifying service-connected disability.
In addition to the required employee self-certification, an agency, at its discretion, may additionally require a signed medical certification from a health care provider that the medical treatment was for a qualifying service-connected disability. An agency may require an employee to submit medical certification before approving any retroactive substitution as described above.
When an agency requires such medical certification, the agency may specify that it include—
The employee must provide the additional medical certification within 15 calendar days of the agency’s request unless the agency determines that more time is required (not to exceed 30 calendar days).
When an employee with a positive balance of disabled veteran leave transfers between qualifying agencies or separates from qualifying Federal employment and returns later to qualifying Federal employment, the employee is entitled to a recredit of any unused disabled veteran leave—if the employee is still within his or her originally established 12-month eligibility period. (See 5 CFR 630.1308(c) and (d).)
The losing agency must certify the number of unused disabled veteran leave hours and the expiration date of the employee’s established 12-month eligibility period to the gaining agency.
In the event that certification is not available upon transfer or reemployment, the recredit of disabled veteran leave may be supported by written documentation available to the employing agency in its official personnel records concerning the employee, the official records of the employee’s former employing agency, copies of contemporaneous leave and earning statement(s) provided by the employee, or copies of other contemporaneous written documentation acceptable to the agency.
If an employee’s work schedule changes in conjunction with movement to a different agency (during the 12-month eligibility period), the balance of disabled veteran leave must generally be converted to the proper number of hours based on the proportional relationship between the two schedules (5 CFR 630.1305(c)). (See the section of this fact sheet entitled “Conversion of Disabled Veteran Leave Balance Based on Change in a Tour of Duty.”)
Any unused disabled veteran leave will be forfeited at the end of the employee’s established 12-month eligibility period. There are no circumstances under which the leave may remain to an employee’s credit afterwards.
Disabled veteran leave is subject to forfeiture if an employee receives a discontinued or decreased service-connected disability rating which no longer qualifies the employee for disabled veteran leave. If an employee's service-connected disability rating is decreased or discontinued during the 12-month eligibility period resulting in the employee no longer having a qualifying service-connected disability rating, the employee must notify the agency of the effective date of the change in the disability rating, and the employee is no longer eligible for disabled veteran leave as of the end of the day before the effective date of the rating change. Any unused disabled veteran leave to the employee’s credit as of the end of the day before the effective date of the rating change will be forfeited. A rating change has no effect on any disabled veteran leave the employee used prior to the effective date of the rating change.
An employee may not receive a lump-sum payment for any forfeited disabled veteran leave under any circumstance.