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Frequently Asked Questions Pay & Leave

Pay Administration

  • A QSI is a faster-than-normal WGI used to reward employees at any GS grade level who display high quality performance. To be eligible for a QSI, employees must:
    • be below step 10 of their grade level;
    • have received the highest rating available under their performance appraisal system;
    • have demonstrated sustained performance of high quality; and
    • have not received a QSI within the preceding 52 consecutive calendar weeks.
    A QSI does not affect the timing of an employee's next regular WGI unless the QSI places the employee in step 4 or step 7 of his or her grade. In these cases, the employee becomes subject to the full waiting period for the new step--i.e., 104 weeks or 156 weeks, respectively--and the time an employee has already waited counts towards the next increase. The employee receives the full benefit of receiving a WGI at an earlier date and has not lost any time creditable towards his or her next WGI.See 5 U.S.C. 5336, 5 CFR part 531, subpart E, and http://www.opm.gov/perform/articles/1999/apr99-7.asp for additional information on QSIs.
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  • Within-grade increases (WGIs) or step increases are periodic increases in a General Schedule (GS) employee's rate of basic pay from one step of the grade of his or her position to the next higher step of that grade. For WGI purposes, an employee's rate of basic pay is the rate of pay fixed by law or administrative action for the position held by the employee before any deductions and exclusive of additional pay of any kind.(Note: Employees designated as "GM" whose rate of basic pay is less than the maximum rate of their grade also may receive WGIs. See 5 CFR part 531, subpart D, for additional information.)
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  • See the fact sheet on General Schedule Within-Grade Increases for the required waiting periods for advancement to the next higher step of a GS grade for employees with a scheduled tour of duty. (See 5 CFR 531.405(a)(2) for the required waiting periods for employees without a scheduled tour of duty.) A WGI waiting period begins upon (1) first appointment in the Federal service, (2) receiving an "equivalent increase," or (3) after a period of nonpay status and/or a break in service in excess of 52 calendar weeks. Fact sheet available at http://www.opm.gov/oca/pay/html/wgifact.asp
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  • Agencies must use the standard method when an employee is covered by the same pay schedules before and after promotion. For example, an employee may be covered by the same locality rate schedule before and after promotion. See Promotion Examples 7 and 9-14.Also, agencies should use the standard method when an employee is covered by different pay schedules before and after promotion if the standard method produces a higher payable rate upon promotion than the alternate method.  See Promotion Examples 2, 4, 6, and 8. However, an agency may determine it is inappropriate to use the standard method under 5 CFR 531.214(d)(2)(iii).
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  • Any employee (as defined in 5 U.S.C. 2105) who is highly qualified is eligible to receive a student loan repayment, except those employees who currently occupy or will occupy a position excepted from the competitive service because of its confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character (e.g., employees serving under Schedule C appointments). Under 5 CFR 537.104, agencies may offer student loan repayment benefits to recruit a highly qualified job candidate or retain a highly qualified employee who, during the service period established under a service agreement, will be serving under (1) an appointment other than a time-limited appointment or (2) a time-limited appointment if-
    • The employee (or job candidate) will have at least 3 years remaining under the appointment after the beginning of the service period; or  
    • The time-limited appointment authority leads to conversion to another appointment of sufficient duration so that his or her employment with the agency is projected to last for at least 3 additional years after the beginning of the service period.
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  • An "equivalent increase" is considered to occur at the time of any of the following personnel actions:
    • A within-grade increase, excluding (1) a quality step increase granted under 5 CFR part 531, subpart E, or (2) an interim WGI if that increase is later terminated under 5 CFR 531.414;
    • A promotion (permanent or temporary) to a higher grade, including the promotion of an employee receiving a retained rate under 5 CFR 359.705 or 5 CFR part 536 that does not result in a pay increase, but excluding (1) a temporary promotion if, at the end of that temporary promotion, the employee is returned to the grade from which promoted, or (2) a promotion to a higher-graded supervisory or managerial position when the employee does not satisfactorily complete a probationary period established under 5 U.S.C. 3321(a)(2) and is returned to a position at the lower grade held before promotion;
    • Application of the maximum payable rate rule in 5 CFR 531.221 that results in a higher step rate within the employee's GS grade (or an increase for a GM employee to the next higher rate within the grade), except for application of that rule in a demotion to the extent that the employee's rate of basic pay after demotion does not exceed the lowest step rate that equals or exceeds the employee's rate of basic pay immediately before the demotion (see the Note below for an example);
    • Application of the superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority in 5 CFR 531.212 that results in a higher step rate within the employee's GS grade (or an increase for a GM employee to the next higher rate within the grade); or
    • Application of the qualifications pay authority in 5 U.S.C. 9814 to an employee of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, when the employee fulfills the 1-year service requirement in the position for which qualifications pay was received or in a successor position.
    Note: For example, in 2009 a GS-13, step 3, employee ($75,323 GS rate) accepts a voluntary demotion to a GS-12 position. The agency sets her pay using the maximum payable rate rule at GS-12, step 10 ($77,194 GS rate). The increase in pay is not an equivalent increase because the employee's pay was set at the lowest step that exceeded her rate of basic pay before promotion.For information on equivalent increases for non-GS employees who move to the GS pay system, see Q10, which includes an example for an employee moving to the GS pay system from the Department of Defense (DoD) National Security Personnel System (NSPS).
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  • Use Services Online (Retirement Services) to:
    • start, change, or stop Federal and State income tax withholdings;
    • request a duplicate tax-filing statement (1099R);
    • change your Personal Identification Number (PIN) for accessing our automated systems;
    • establish, change, or stop an allotment to an organization;
    • change your mailing address;
    • start direct deposit of your payment or change the account or financial institution to which your payment is sent;
    • establish, change, or stop a checking or savings allotment; and
    • view a statement describing your annuity payment.
    You can also call our toll-free number 1 (888) 767-6738 , for these and many of your voluntary withholdings. When using self-service systems, you need your claim number, Personal Identification Number (PIN), and social security number. If you do not have a PIN, call us. If you do not have a touchtone telephone, you can speak to a Customer Service Specialist. Generally, in the middle of month, we authorize payments that are due for the first business day of the following month. Therefore, if you want your change to be reflected in your next payment, you should submit your request as early in the month as possible. See our payment schedule for the last date you can change your next monthly payment.
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  • Civilian employment in any branch of the Federal Government (executive, legislative, or judicial) or with a Government corporation is creditable service in the computation of a waiting period. Service credit is given for periods of annual, sick, and other leave with pay and service under a temporary or term appointment. See 5 CFR 531.406 for special rules regarding the crediting of military service, time in a nonpay status, time during which an employee receives injury compensation, and certain other periods of service.
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  • A WGI is effective on the first day of the first pay period beginning on or after the completion of the required waiting period. (5 U.S.C. 5335 and 5 CFR 531.412.)
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  • See the promotions fact sheet at -http://www.opm.gov/oca/pay/HTML/promotion.asp
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