Buyout options


Q: If offered a buyout, can an employee quit or resign from federal employment even though the employee is eligible for an immediate annuity? Can the buyout payment be extended into the next calendar year, or can the employee choose to retire early in a new calendar year and accept the buyout? How long after accepting a buyout can an employee who left federal employment, under conditions other then retirement, be rehired into federal service?

A: If you are offered a Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment, the fact that you are eligible to retire would have no affect of your accepting it during the period in which it is offered and resigning. The payment would be made under the schedule set by your agency for all buyouts. It’s unlikely that it would vary its rules for one individual. As for returning to work, here’s what OPM has to say: “An employee who receives a VSIP and later accepts employment for compensation with the Government of the United States within 5 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.” While there are exceptions to this rule, they are extremely rare.


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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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