Special Leave Accrual (SLA)

Air National Guard: Federal Active Duty

Benefit Fact Sheet

Share on Facebook Share on X Share on LinkedIn

Special Leave Accrual (SLA) allows service members who serve in hostile fire / imminent danger (HF/IDP) area for a continuous period of at least 120 days to accumulate and retain up to 90 days of leave (60 days of ordinary leave, plus 30 days of SLA-protected leave). The intent of SLA is to provide relief to service members who are not allowed leave when undergoing lengthy deployment or during periods of hostility.

Effective January 1, 2023: The SLA maximum leave cap is being reduced from 120 to 90 days, and service members will have two fiscal years to use the excess leave above 60 days. The end of fiscal year 2023 (September 30, 2023) is the first point at which the 90 days will apply. Service members who had a current SLA balance over 60 days will fall into one of two categories, which is determined by their overall SLA leave balance as of December 31, 2022.

Category 1: Service members who have SLA leave balance of 90 days or below on December 31, 2022.

  • Will have a new SLA cap of 90 days applied to their SLA leave balances in FY23
  • Any excess leave above 90 days will be forfeited by September 30, 2023

Category 2: Service members who have SLA leave balance of 90.5 days or above on December 31, 2022.

  • Normal 120 day cap applies
  • Service members’ original SLA expiration date will stay the same
  • When the service member’s balance decreases to 90 days or below, between FY23 to FY26, the service member will be moved to category 1, and the 90 day cap applied going forward

The revised provisions of law made by the FY23 NDAA does negatively impact the unused SLA leave of service members who accumulated SLA leave due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 or due to other reasons that occurred before FY23. Service members may continue to use this SLA leave according to the timelines previously established by their Service.

One-Time Leave Payment. An enlisted service member of the Armed Forces who would lose accumulated leave in excess of the 90 days may elect to be paid a lump sum payment of up to 30 days of forfeited leave. This election can only be taken once during a career. This leave payment does apply against the 60 days of leave paid during a career.


SLA is authorized to service members serving at least 120 continuous days in hostile fire or imminent danger pay areas. No additional criteria are required under this area for approval. Also, service members assigned to a designated deployable ship, designated mobile unit, or other similar prescribed duty may be authorized SLA if operational requirements prevented use of leave.

Service members who meet all the following conditions may also qualify for special leave accrual:

  • Deployed for a lengthy period, normally 60 or more days
  • Deployed to meet a contingency operation of the United States
  • Deployed to enforce national policy or an international agreement based on a national emergency or in the need to defend national security
  • Prevented from using leave through the end of the FY because of deployment.

Service members may continue to qualify for the 120-day requirement for up to 90 days when hospitalized outside of the hostile fire area. Qualification is based on continued eligibility for hostile fire or imminent danger pay.

Benefit Highlights

SLA authorizes service members to carry forward up to 90 days of leave at the end of a FY (60 days normal leave plus 30 days special leave) if the leave was earned before or during a qualifying deployment. Leave earned after return from deployment is not SLA protected. DFAS will note number of days protected and the expiration date in the Remarks section of the service member’s LES. These days are part of, not in addition to, the Service member's current leave balance (CR Bal).

Active duty members who serve in an OCONUS duty assignment in support of a contingency operation are authorized to accumulate annual leave in excess of 60 days.

SLA protection ends either on the expiration date or when the service member's current leave balance (Cr Bal) drops to 60 days or less. SLA days cannot be sold, and must be used before their expiration date.

SLA earned in a hostile fire or imminent danger pay area (theater) is automatically coded as SLA leave by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) if service members are in receipt of Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay. 

Caution: Service members maintaining a maximum leave balance a risk of losing leave over 60 days if the operational situation prevents them from using leave before the end of the fiscal year.  Each service member has an individual responsibility to monitor and manage their leave. 

Note: SLA parameters are based on statutory law, not Air Force policy.

Requesting Special Leave Accrual

SLA Approval Authority:  The Wing Commander or Vice Wing Commander has the final authority which may be delegated to the first O-6 in chain of command. 

SLA Disapproval:  Any commander in the chain of command may deny a member’s request for SLA without referring it to a higher-level authority when the member’s request does not meet the criteria for SLA consideration

Exceptions to Policy (ETP): Members who believe they are eligible may submit an ETP. Reasons for lost leave should have AF or DoD-wide significance. These exceptions will be considered on a case-by case basis and the approval authority resides at AF/A1. AF/A1 will not entertain ETP packages for members who were unable to reduce their leave balance to 60 days due to being on alert status.

Additional Information

Department of the Air Force Instruction DAFI36-3303, Military Leave Program:

Air Force Personnel Center:

DoD Instruction (DoDI) 1327.06, Leave and Liberty Policy and Procedures, including Special Leave Accrual:

DoD 7000.14-R, “Department of Defense Financial Management Regulations (FMRs),” Volume 7A, “Military Pay Policy - Active Duty and Reserve Pay:

Special Leave Accrual (SLA) and Use/Lose Leave Balances

Volume 7A, Chapter 35: “Separation Payments”:

Document Review Date: 30 November 2023