Q. I retired as a GS-13 in August 2013, with 38 years of service under CSRS. I was offered a $26,000 buyout from my agency (I was 57 years old when I retired). If I were to return to federal service, would I return under CSRS? Is there a time requirement when I can return (for instance, do I have to wait 5 years after I retired)? Also, would I have to re-pay the $26,000 buyout payment, and/or any of my retirement contributions that I have received, if I were to return before the 5-year time span?

A. If you were reemployed, it would be under CSRS, with the option of transferring to FERS. If you returned to the federal government within 5 years, with rare exception you’d be required to repay the entire amount of the buyout before the first day you started working again. You wouldn’t be required to repay any of the annuity you had already received. That’s because, your annuity would continue and, with rare exception, the salary of your new position would be reduced by the amount of your annuity.


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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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