Returning to work


Q. I’m a FERS employee who is thinking of retiring and wondering if there is anything that precludes me from retiring one day and coming back to work as a federal employee the next?

A. If you met the age and service requirements to retire on an immediate annuity, your annuity would continue; however, the salary of your new position would be offset by the amount of that annuity. Further, any lump-sum payment for unused annual leave you received would have to be returned to your former agency. Note: If you received a buyout payment, that money would also have to be returned.


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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


  1. What options are there with annual leave if you immediately reemploy to prevent a payback? Will I lose my annual leave or can it be transferred to the new agency?

    • If you leave your current agency on a Friday and report to your new agency on a Monday, your annual leave balance will be transferred to your new employer. However, if there is a break in service, it’s likely that you would receive a lump sum payment for your annual leave. Then when you begin your new federal job, you would have to repay an amount that represents the dollars that were figuratively returned to you during the break in service. To better understand what I’ve just said, you need to understand that a lump-sum annual leave payment is based on your hourly rate of pay when you left and is projected forward as if you were still on the payroll. So if your break-in-service was two weeks, you’b entitled to two weeks on annual leave pay; anything beyond that would be owed to your former agency.

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