While not always common, it’s important to understand what might happen if you’re ever going through a RIF: a reduction in force. If you’re a federal employee that’s losing your position, or the position is moving to another area where you cannot relocate, then you may find yourself applying for VERA/VSIP.
WHAT IS VERA AND HOW IS VERA ELIGIBILITY DETERMINED?
VERA stands for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority. That’s where you would retire early and receive a monthly paycheck, and you will get the VSIP (Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay) buyout.
The formula to determine your eligibility for early retirement through VERA is almost the same as the formulas you use to determine your eligibility for your regular retirement through FERS. However, you are also eligible to retire early through VERA if you have at least twenty years of creditable service by age 50. If you have 25 years of service or more, then you can retire at anytime.
To apply for VERA, you should first wait until you receive a buyout letter, and a survey. Once you complete the survey and turn it in, that will start the VSIP. After that, you will be able to fill out your retirement paperwork.
Here’s a sample of the Retirement Interest Survey:
WHAT IS VSIP AND HOW IS VSIP ELIGIBILITY DETERMINED?
VSIP, or Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay, is also sometimes referred to as a buyout. It’s a lump-sum of money of normally up to $25,000 that you’ll receive, as an incentive for you to actually leave the federal government voluntarily.
It’s very important to note that, if you take your buyout and then you get another government position within five years, then you will have to pay that lump sum of up to $25,000 back. So if you are going to look for another federal job, you might not want to accept the VSIP.
To be eligible for VSIP, you must be in a permanent job – a position that was supposed to have no limitation until it went through this RIF – that you have held for at least three years.
You are not eligible to receive VSIP if…
- You’ve received a federal buyout in the past
- You’re a reemployed annuitant
- You’re covered under a statutory reemployment rights
- You transfer to another government agency
- You have a pending-approval application for disability retirements
- You have any misconduct problems on record
See the chart below to compute how much you might receive if you were to accept VSIP. If your agency uses the GRB platform you can log into your account on the GRB platform and find the computation under “Retirement.” It will tell you how much of a buyout you would get, or how much separation pay you would get.
HAVE YOU BEEN OFFERED VERA/VSIP?
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