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USGS Phased Retirement Program

The Phased Retirement Program is a management employment flexibility that allows certain full-time retirement eligible employees to work on a part-time work schedule (currently 40 hours per pay period) and draw partial retirement benefits. The main purpose of the program is to assist with knowledge transfer in support of continuing the mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The program requires mentoring, training, and/or the transfer of knowledge and/or skills from retiring employees to others to assist in preparing future experts for success. Entry into phased retirement is voluntary and requires mutual agreement between the employee and the USGS.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) issued the Phased Retirement Program, Personnel Bulletin 15-06 (Internal Only) and the USGS has implemented the Phased Retirement program (IM OA 2017-02). The length of time one is in phased retirement will be determined on a case-by case basis. Employees may participate with management approval for a minimum of 3 months not-to-exceed one year. It may be renewed for additional time as needed by the Survey. DOI has limited participation in Phased Retirement to be no more than 2 years.


FERS and CSRS employees must have worked full-time for three years immediately prior to entering into Phased Retirement. They must also be eligible for immediate retirement under the following criteria:

  • FERS:  Minimum Age Retirement with at least 30 years of creditable service or at least age 60 with 20 years of creditable service
  • CSRS:  at least age 55 with 30 year of creditable service or at least age 60 with 20 years of creditable service


  • Non-supervisory employees may participate
  • Managers/Supervisors, SES, SL, ST are not able to participate
  • Fully successful performance level or above required
  • Managers and employees must acknowledge they have read and understand the DOI Personnel Bulletin 15-06 (Internal Only) and Phased Retirement Agreement (Internal Only)


ELT Member

  • Approve applications submitted outside quarterly period
  • Deciding Official for requests for reconsideration

Center Director (CD)/Cost Center Managers (CCM)

  • Review and approve Phased Retirement Agreement (Internal Only)


  • Discuss proposed agreement and terms with employee
  • Consult with their HR Staffing/Classification Specialist to determine if there is a need to change the Position Description
  • Make recommendations to CD or CCM
  • Review and sign Phased Retirement Agreement (Internal Only)
  • Monitor and ensure program requirements are met
    • Work schedule, knowledge transfer, time limits, etc.

Human Resources Office

  • Provide advice and support to managers, supervisors, and employees
  • Estimate retirement benefits
  • Process application
  • Maintain case files
  • Monitor compliance


  • Ensures they meet the initial eligibility
  • Discuss with their supervisor the reasons they are an appropriate candidate and how their job duties will change during the period of phased retirement to meet their needs and interests as well as those of the USGS
  • Reviews and understands the specifics of the Phased Retirement Program
  • Employees will sign an agreement that describes the terms and conditions of Phased Retirement that includes an end date of the Phased Retirement program and an understanding that the employee will fully retire on or before the date (unless extended) with USGS approval.

Knowledge Management/Mentoring

Knowledge Management is a key component of the Phased Retirement Program. The phased retiree is required to devote 20% of their time to some types of knowledge transfer activities such as: mentoring; creating or updating, policies, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), guides, manuals or handbooks; developing/conducting training, etc.

Steps to Apply

Step 1.  Employee confirms with their Benefits Specialist they meet the retirement eligibility requirements and have been on a full-time work schedule for the three years immediately prior to entering into Phased Retirement. They also review with their Specialist any issues related to applying such as the need to make civilian deposits or redeposits and/or military deposits prior to entering into Phased Retirement.

Step 2.  Employee has a conversation with their supervisor which is documented on the Justification Form (found in IM OA 2017-02).

Step 3.  Supervisor consults with their HR Staffing/Classification Specialist if there is a need to reassign, change to lower grade, change the position description, etc., if the employee participates. The supervisor then recommends the employee to the CD or C CM using the Justification Form (found in IM OA 2017-02) and Review and sign Phased Retirement Agreement (Internal Only).

Step 4.  CD/CCM signs the DOI Phased Retirement Agreement

Step 5.  Employee discusses submits the following to their Benefits Specialist

Entering into Full Retirement

Employees may enter into Full Retirement at any time. Employees will enter into full retirement at the NTE date unless participation is approved to be extended.

Ending Phased Retirement Status

In most cases, when phased retirement status ends, employees will transition into a full retirement status. The employee will contact their Benefits Specialist about 30 days prior to the not-to-exceed date of Phased Retirement to submit a final Application for Immediate Retirement and any other required documents. Survivor benefit and continuation of life insurance decisions are elected with full retirement.

Employees who fail to take any action within three days of separating from phased employment will be deemed to have elected full retirement and such separations will be considered voluntary.

General Information

  • Department of the Interior Phased Retirement Program, Personnel Bulletin 15-06 (Internal Only)
  • Phased Retirement Program - IM OA 2017-02

Reference Materials


Contact your servicing Benefits Specialist.

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Page Last Modified: Friday, 21-Sep-2018 13:32:06 EDT