Q: I am a 30-year Defense Department employee under CSRS who will become eligible for regular voluntary retirement on Jan. 4, 2012. There is buzz around my organization that there will be a VERA/VSIP with retirement dates being offered in September and December of 2011, but no real details yet. Would it be considered a VERA or a VSIP if the designated date for December retirees ended up being in the same pay period in which I become eligible (for example, Jan. 1-14, 2012) if the designated retirement date occurred before Jan. 4, 2012? Would this affect any incentive money offers if considered a VSIP? Also, if a particular job series is included in the VERA/VSIP but an employee’s organization chooses not to participate, is an employee still eligible to retire, or would that employee have to move to a participating organization to apply?

A: Any employee who is offered an opportunity by his agency can retire early under the voluntary early retirement authority (VERA) if he has the required combination of age and service (age 50 with at least 20 years or at any age with 25 or more). The voluntary separation incentive program (VSIP) is different in two ways. First, any employee who is offered the opportunity can accept it regardless of his age and length of service. Second, he will receive a cash payment, not to exceed $25,000. If you aren’t offered one of these opportunities to leave government, you cannot retire before you meet the standard age and service requirements for your retirement system.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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