Q. I have over 14 years of civil service. I’m retired military (20 years). I’m almost 58 years old. I fall under FERS.

A while back, an email came down asking who would be interested in Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay. I replied in the affirmative.

If they offer VERA/VSIP, my supervisor says he would not approve it for me, as he cannot afford to lose the position.

My plan was to retire at 60, but if they offered VERA/VSIP, I would go earlier. With talk of reductions in force being thrown into the mix, I’m concerned what course would be most beneficial for me. If RIF is enforced or if VERA/VSIP is offered, do they waive the 5 percent-per-year penalties for early retirement?

How do I find out how much penalty I would incur if they do not waive them? Should I buy back my military time? Keep it separate? Stay until 60?

A. First things first. Unless you made a deposit to get credit for your active-duty service and are willing to waive your military retired pay, you aren’t eligible to retire under VERA. Only those employees who have at least 20 years of service and are 50 years or older or who have at least 25 years at any age can do that. If you do decide to make a deposit for your active-duty service, you wouldn’t have to wait for a VERA to retire. You’d already have the years and service needed to retire on an immediate annuity.

On the other hand, you could accept a VSIP if one is offered. If you did that without making a deposit, you’d be resigning from your position, not retiring. Then at age 62, you could apply for a deferred retirement.


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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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