Question on buyouts


Q: You stated in an earlier response to someone that if they accepted a buyout and returned to federal service sooner than five years, they’d have to repay “what they received” plus accrued interest.  However, what I “received” from my buyout after taxes was only about $16,000. Isn’t it true I’d have to repay the entire $25,000 if I returned early? My second question is, when was the $25,000 threshold first established, and why hasn’t it ever been adjusted for inflation?

A: I should have been clearer. If you return to work before five years have passed, you would have to repay the entire amount, not just the part you received after deductions have been taken out of it. The $25,000 ceiling was included in Public Law 103-226, the Federal Workforce Restructuring Act of 1994. To the best of my knowledge, no interest has ever been shown by any administration or Congress to increase the amount, perhaps because the amount being offered has turned out to be enough.


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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

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