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Expanded use-or-lose leave law set to expire soon

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- With the expiration of a law that allowed service members to carry up to 75 days of leave from one fiscal year to the next, troops should plan to carry no more than 60 days of leave into fiscal year 2016, defense officials recently announced.

Service members will automatically lose any accumulated ordinary leave in excess of 60 days on Oct. 1, 2015, officials said. Troops covered by special leave accrual rules may still carry up to 120 days from one fiscal year to the next, officials noted.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 extended the authority to carry over an additional 15 days of leave (total of 75 days) to Sept. 30, 2015.

Leave carry-over limit

Previous authority was set to expire Sept. 30, 2013, but the Defense Department recommended a two-year extension of the 75 day leave carry-over limit in 2013, to provide ample time for affected members to plan and use accumulated leave and to coincide with the reduction of combat posture in Afghanistan.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 initially extended the 2008 temporary authorization for all service members to carryover an additional 15 days of leave because the high operations tempo resulted in less opportunity for members to use the leave they earned.

The 75-day leave carry-over limit does not apply to members who qualify for Special Leave Accrual; they may carry over up to 120 days of leave.

Members may qualify for Special Leave Accrual if they:

-- Served on active duty for a continuous period of at least 120 days in a hostile fire or imminent danger pay area.

-- Were assigned to a designated deployable ship, mobile unit, or other similar prescribed duty as determined by the service secretary concerned.

-- Performed qualifying duties designated by the secretary concerned.

Service members are encouraged to check their Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) and talk with their finance office to help understand their correct use-or-lose balance and to work with their commands to manage their leave balances throughout the rest of this fiscal year.

LES projections

Although previous LES's did not account for the 75-day leave carryover expiration in projecting use-or-lose leave amounts, officials from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) said those LES projections have now been corrected for active component Army, Navy, and Air Force service members. They will appear on the April LES.

Members can access their April LES through the myPay system as of April 23, 2015. However, the projected use-or-lose balance will only take into account leave that was charged to a member's account through April 22.

Any leave taken or posted to the member's account after that date will not be reflected. Reserve component members with projected use-or-lose leave, will be contacted individually by DFAS and given their use-or-lose balance.
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