VERA contradiction?


Q. If a voluntary early retirement is something that must be offered, it shouldn’t be called “voluntary.” To me, the term is a misleading contradiction in and of itself. “You can voluntarily retire; but [only]if we (your organization) offer it.” What are your thoughts?

A. The Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) is an agency tool, not an employee right. According to the Office of Personnel Management, it “allows agencies that are undergoing substantial restructuring, reshaping, downsizing, transfer of function, or reorganization to temporarily lower the age and service requirements in order to increase the number of employees who are eligible for retirement. The authority encourages more voluntary separations and helps the agency complete the needed organizational change with minimal disruption to the work force. By offering these short term opportunities, an agency can make it possible for employees to receive an immediate annuity years before they would otherwise be eligible.”

“An agency must request VERA and receive approval from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before the agency may offer early retirement to its employees. The approval from OPM will stipulate a period of time during which the option will remain available. Agencies such as the Department of Defense that have been granted agency-specific VERA are not required to seek OPM approval for their use of this option.”


About Author

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


  1. “The Voluntary Early Retirement Authority allows employees to retire early if they are age 50 with 20 years of service or any age with 25. The Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment can be made to any employee who leaves government, whether he is eligible to retire or not.” – R. Jones

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