Q. I may be offered an early-out in May. I have been working for the Army Corps of Engineers for the past 34 years. I’m a CSRS employee. If I take the buyout and have a chance to go work for FEMA or the U.S. Forest Service fighting fires out west this summer, can I do this without paying back the bonus?
A. According to the Office of Personnel management, “An employee who receives a [Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay] 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 re-employment.” You’ll have to check with your potential employer to determine if there is any exception to this rule.