Returning to work for the government


President Trump said: “We are proposing a budget that will shrink the bloated federal bureaucracy — and I mean bloated — while protecting our national security.” If the new administration carries through on his promise, there will be widespread staff reductions. However, some agencies will increase, sometimes substantially. So, if you left government through retirement or resignation, you may want to consider returning to the public sector.

If you were covered by CSRS and return in less than one year, you’ll be covered by CSRS, with the option of converting to FERS. If you were gone for more than one year, you’ll be covered by CSRS Offset (CSRS and Social Security), with the option of converting to FERS. If you were in FERS, you’ll be covered by FERS.

If you didn’t receive a refund of your retirement contributions, you’ll pick up where you left off. If you received a refund, you can either redeposit that money with interest or decide not to.

If you were covered by CSRS or CSRS Offset, with one exception, you’ll have to redeposit that refund, plus interest, to get full credit for a period of CSRS service. If you don’t, you’ll still get credit for that time in determining your years of service as well as your “high-3” years of average salary; however, that refunded time won’t be used in the computation of your annuity.

Here’s the exception: If you received a refund for CSRS service that ended before March 1, 1991, and don’t make the deposit, that time will still be used to determine your length of service and used in your annuity computation. However, your annuity will be reduced actuarially based on your age and how much you owe.

If you had less than five years of CSRS service, took a refund of your CSRS retirement contributions and later returned to work under FERS, you’ll have to redeposit that money, plus accrued interest to get credit for that time under FERS.

If you had five or more years under CSRS, that refunded service will be treated the same way it is for a CSRS or CSRS Offset employee.

To find out how much you’d owe, go to, download a copy of the Application to Make Deposit or Redeposit [SF 2803 (CSRS)] or Application to Make Service Credit Payment [SF 3108 (FERS)], fill out the form, and send it to OPM.


About Author

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


  1. If the retirement changes put forth in the Presidents budget were to become law, when would they go into effect? How soon might we see if Congress is going to keep those proposed changes intact? I’m a FERS employee planning to retire in summer of 2018. I might go sooner if the current proposed cuts become law.

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