Buyout and reemployment


Q. I’m a former federal employee. I received a buyout when I left three years ago. Can I be rehired on a term-appointment basis without paying back that $25,000?

A. No. According to OPM: “An employee who receives a VSIP and later accepts employment for compensation with the government of the United States within 5 years of the date of the separation on which the VSIP is based, including work under a personal services contract or other direct contract, must repay the entire amount of the VSIP to the agency that paid it – before the individual’s first day of reemployment.”


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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. I retired from the Federal Government in 2014 as a GS13 and I received a VSIP/VERA in the amount of $25,000. I’m thinking about return as a GS 13 will I have to pay back my annuity?

    • If you do it within 5 years, you’ll have to repay every cent before the first day you begin your new job. There are exceptions to that requirement but they are very limited. You’d be wise to check before accepting a new job.

  2. Can you work for a business such as Microsoft, Oracle, or under a subcontractor that works with the Federal Government if you are a retired GS Employee taking an early retirement under VERA/VSIP? without penalty or risk of paying back separation bonus.

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