Returning to work


Q. I retired on July 1 of this year after 42 years. I decided I would rather work. Will I return at the same level?

A. You might or you might not. It depends on the position for which you apply and what the agency you are applying to is willing to offer. If the grade is lower than the one you left, feel free to negotiate, if not on the grade, at least at the salary level. Just be aware that the agency holds most of the cards in a negotiation.

Note: If you return to work, with rare exception your salary would be reduced by the amount of your annuity. 


About Author

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


  1. In reference to the woman who retired after 42 years and decided to return to work I thought you had to wait 5 years to be eligible for a government job?

    • No. Only those who receive a voluntary separation incentive payment (VSIP) have to wait five years before returning to work for the government. If they they return before that, they must repay the entire pretax payment. The only exception is if OPM agrees with an agency that an individual possesses unique abilities and is the only qualified person available.

  2. I am a 2 year and 11 month active military during the Vietnam ERA, 11-1968 t0 11-1971. Shortly after service, I returned to Oklahoma and worked for the field artillery school as a statistical clerk, then relocated to Oklahoma City and worked for the VA Hospital, a total of about 9 years. In 1979 my then spouse who died in 1996 retired from the Air Force and we relocated to Denver. I secured another CSRS position and worked there until 1991 after graduation with a Bachelors degree and after separation that ended in a divorce due to his alcoholism and refusal to get help or try to change. I relocated to Oklahoma again accepting a entry level position as a GS-07. In 1996, my former husband and dad to my 2 sons died from alcoholism and left me to continue raising our two sons. I relocated to Colorado due to a small home with a mortgage that I eventually lost due to failing health and several illnesses. Agencies region-wide underwent a RIF at that time and I was offered involuntary retirement due to length of CSRS service and military time. I performed active reserve duty for several years afterward but don’t believe I had enough time yo retire as an E-7. My question is, do I have grounds for relief from the WEP. I am penalized for both WEP and GPO. Don’t know if I should be getting combined benefits from my survivor benefits and my own SS benefits after the 2/3 reduction from survivor benefits due to being full retirement age. I was given no information when RIFed except my final calculations for retirement and have just during this past year had time to research extensively and understand some laws that ensued after my RIF retirement. I took SS in early 2016 with a reduction because I was still working with difficulty. I had requested disability and have located the paperwork plus I have my medical records obtained but the SS rep did not want do see them when I took them even though I was 6 months prior to retirement age of 66. I should have had room to receive a greater benefit due to chronic illnesses that spiraled in Aug 2016 and have progressed. Do I have any recourse at this point. Along with my illnesses, I married an older disabled man in 2011 with no benefits when he died in 2017 and have spent the time taking care of my own health and handling his needs during his stay in the hospital and azlheimers facility and the progression of cancer that I only learned of at the very end. do I have any recourse to use mitigating circumstances for the WEP. I worked private sector from 1997 through 2016 and did not have the opportunity to change to FERS and receive even the one day rule due to the RIF.

  3. Thank you. I have done extensive research for the past 2 1/2 years and found that Congress have really been busy, first they provided loopholes for insiders and some others privy to the loopholes to take far more from the system than entitled and now that the goal has been accomplished, they are making the group that has has always been at the nonreceiving end but thought that the extra work would provide a way of survival through our
    old age only to learn that we are still being used as slaves. We would need to know the rules of the game to play and come out half a winner but because we have not been privy to know that insiders let their supporters know while deceiving so many of the rest of us. The sad part is that all those insiders hold the same gut feeling that they created the system of government for themselves to serve themselves. After having looked at our leadership for years, I am disappointed to say that there are very few in the system that take to truly being a public servant for all that they represent. After all, it was not just their chosen party that put them in office.

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