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Legal Insider: Early retirement for federal employees

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By Kimberly H. Berry, Esq.

Early retirement is a consideration for many federal employees.

Federal agencies that are undergoing major organizational changes such as reorganization, reduction in force (RIF), reshaping, or downsizing can be given the option to offer federal employees voluntary early retirement based on the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA). The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provides guidance on VERA here. VERA is the legal authority given to specific federal agencies so that they may offer early retirement options to employees.

VERA authority can provide a federal employee an opportunity to retire early with better financial options. In addition to VERA, federal agencies may also be given Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VSIP), which can range up to $25,000. OPM has published guidance on VSIP payments here.

VERA and VSIP were designed to assist agencies that need to implement organizational changes while also making it possible for federal employees to receive an immediate annuity payment years before they would normally be eligible. The voluntary early retirement provisions are the same under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Federal Employee Requirements for Early Retirement for FERS and CSRS

In order to generally be eligible to retire under VERA, a federal employee must usually meet the following types of requirements:

  • The VERA minimum age and service requirements set by statutes in the U.S. Code for CSRS and FERS employees (i.e., the employee has completed at least 20 years of creditable service and is at least 50 years of age or has completed at least 25 years of creditable service regardless of age)
  • Continuous employment by a federal agency for at least 31 days prior to the date that the agency initially requested the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) approval of VERA
  • The federal employee may not have received a final removal decision based upon misconduct or unacceptable performance
  • The federal employee must hold a position covered by the agency’s VERA authority or program
  • The federal employee must exercise their option under the VERA option during the agency’s VERA acceptance period

Other requirements can apply, but these are the major ones. It is very important for federal employees considering a VERA/VSIP offer to seek the advice of an attorney regarding their retirement issues prior to initiating the VERA process.

Our law firm represents federal employees that are considering early retirement and other federal retirement matters. Sometimes VERA or VSIP considerations can come up during settlement discussions involving a proposed removal or removal action. Our website has additional information on retirement options.

Contact Us

If you are in need of federal employee retirement law representation or guidance regarding VERA (early retirement) or VSIP (early retirement incentives), please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation.

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