Q: I retired in July 2009, when I was 53 ½. I was a FERS employee, Air National Guard, and I retired early under the VERA (Volunteer Early Retirement Authority). I received a $25,000 buyout at retirement. I recently started a job with a private-sector company that overhauls aircraft parts for the military from all branches. About 90 percent of their business is from contracts. I was wondering if my retirement status would interfere with working for this company. Does this fall under the five-year rule? What kind of penalties, paybacks, or reduction in benefits would be associated with this if there is any?
A: According to OPM, “An employee who receives a VSIP and later accepts employment for compensation with the government of the United States within five years of the date of the separation on which the VSIP is based, including work under a personal services contract or other direct contract, must repay the entire amount of the VSIP to the agency that paid it — before the individual’s first day of reemployment.” Since the controlling phrase is “accepts employment for compensation with the government of the United States” and you haven’t done that, it’s unlikely that the five-year rule would apply. To be sure, you should let your former agency know about your new job. They can check with higher ups if there’s any question.