Returning to work for the government


Q. I am in my 11th year of federal service under FERS with the Department of Veterans Affairs. I plan to take a break from federal service and accept a private sector job for at least two years; but I eventually plan to return to federal employment in the future.

1. Can I leave my TSP account unchanged for the interim, or will I have to roll it over elsewhere?
2. Once I return to a federal job, will I have to have at least five continuous years yet again to be eligible to continue my FEHB coverage when I retire?
3. Do all my prior years of service, including my prior high-3, still count toward my pension calculation?

A. 1. Yes, you can leave your money in the TSP.
2. As long as you immediately re-enroll in the FEHB program when you return to government service, your years of coverage will be treated as if they were continuous.
3. Your high-3 will always be the average of your highest three consecutive years of basic pay, regardless of when they occur in your career.


About Author

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


  1. I am a retired Federal employee. I kept my Blue Cross / Blue Shield health insurance. My wife broke her pelvis and sense then she has be receiving care through Federal Blue Cross. Now, she had a stroke and broke her arm. She is in a nursing home. Can she still receive her old injury care through Blue Cross, or is everything rolled over to the nursing home. The nursing home costs $8,000 per month. Can I not get Blue Cross care for her old problems. I will be out of money very fast.

    • Call Blue Cross/Blue Shield and ask them to determine how they’ll coordinate benefits with her nursing home.

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