Returning to work


Q. I retired from the federal government. Do I have to wait five years before I can come back to work?

A. The five-year requirement only applies to those who received a voluntary separation incentive payment, or VSIP. If you didn’t, you can apply for another government job at any time.


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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


  1. In most cases of a retired federal worker returning to the federal workforce, they will be subject to a salary offset, where the amount of pay will be reduced by the amount of their FERS or CSRS annuity. In most cases, it is not possible to receive both full pay and full pension annuity.

        • On the website, your question was linked to the Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP). If so, then the answer is yes. If you are referring to something else, you’ll have to tell me what that is.

  2. My understanding is that one who received a Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment is not barred from federal reemployment within the 5 year period. However, they would have to repay the entire amount of the incentive payment to the agency they received it from when they return to federal employment. Correct?

    Always enjoy your column!

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