What constitutes the ability to retire early? I’ve seen VERA/VSIP’s offered in my institution but my supervisor rejected my request around a year ago. Is that an acceptable response? How can I find if there is an active VERA for my position without having to ask my direct supervisor? Can I go directly to OPM? What are my rights?

Reg’s Response

Explaining what the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment Authority (VSIP) are will help you to understand why there is nothing you can do to generate an offer to retire.

The VERA allows agencies undergoing substantial restructuring, reshaping, downsizing transfer of function, or reorganization to temporarily lower the age and service requirements in order to increase the number of employees who are eligible to retire. With the exception of DoD, an agency must request and receive approval from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before it can offer early retirement to its employees.

The VSIP allows agencies that are downsizing or restructuring to offer employees lump-sum payments of up to $25,000 as an incentive to voluntarily separate. When authorized by OPM, an agency may offer one to employees who are in surplus positions or have skills that are no longer needed and who volunteer to leave by separation, optional retirement, or by voluntary early retirement, if approved. A few agencies, such as DoD have been granted agency-specific VSIP authority and aren’t required to ask for OPM approval.

Got a question for the Federal Times expert? Send inquiries to: fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

Reg Jones, a charter member of the senior executive service, is the resident expert on retirement and the federal government at Federal Times. From 1979 until 1995, he served as an assistant director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management handling recruiting and examining, white and blue collar pay, retirement, insurance and other issues. Opinions expressed are his own.

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