Q. Would I be penalized if I am a FERS employee, 49 years old with 26 years of government service. I just got a GS-11 job, so I do not have a high-3 at that level. My high-3 is at the GS-7. My job is offering the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay. Can I go out with no penalties?

A. Any employee who has at least 25 years of creditable service can retire at any age if offered a VERA. And there wouldn’t be any penalty for retiring before age 60. FYI: Your high-3 is the average of an employee’s highest 78 consecutive pay periods of basic pay. So, every little bit of increased pay helps.


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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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