Q. I recently went back to work as a federal employee with the Veterans Affairs Department. When I retired through Department of the Army, I was a GS-9 Step 4 with more than 27 years of total federal service. In addition, during my tenure, I worked with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service as a GS-8 that was within the same job series 0990.

Thus far, VA has not given me credit for my total service time, whereupon they set my service computation date up as Jan. 27, 2013. I was hired into a GS-7 position on that date, and they brought me in as a Step 1, although I had thought I would be at least a Step 2 or 3 because of the GS-8 position I had held with DFAS for nearly two years.

I contacted the Office of Personnel Management and complained but was told that these issues are out of their jurisdiction and that it is up to the employing agency to decide. The primary reason I considered going back to work for the federal government was because I believed I would receive eight hours of annual leave each pay period as I did before retirement instead of the four hours I currently receive. Is VA correct in doing so? I thought that total federal service time counted even as a rehire. Why am I having to forfeit the offset amount if my prior service time is not given back to me?

Perhaps I can somewhat understand being brought back onboard as a GS-7 Step 1. However, once again because I am having to give up an offset amount of a GS-9 Step 4, I would have thought VA would be more accommodating. If I wasn’t a retiree and had been a GS-9 and had taken a downgrade to a GS-7, wouldn’t they keep the rate of pay in line? So why doesn’t that apply with returning to federal service after having been retired?

Thus far, VA has spent several thousand dollars to train me in my new position as a VSR. However, I am now debating whether this job and the stress that goes along with it is really worth the lack of benefits I had expected. Am I being treated properly by VA on these two issues?

A. OPM is correct. As a re-employed annuitant, you were offered a position and you accepted it. There was no requirement that they offer you one at your former grade and/or pay. You had the option of accepting the offer, negotiating for a different offer or rejecting the offer. Having accepted it, you can either stay or leave.


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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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