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General Schedule (GS) Employees

Definition General Schedule (GS) employees refer to a group of federal civilian employees who work under the General Schedule pay scale system in the United States government. This pay scale categorizes employees into 15 different grades, each having 10 steps based on factors like education, experience, and job responsibilities. GS employees may be eligible for […]


General Schedule (GS) employees refer to a group of federal civilian employees who work under the General Schedule pay scale system in the United States government. This pay scale categorizes employees into 15 different grades, each having 10 steps based on factors like education, experience, and job responsibilities. GS employees may be eligible for various VA benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

Key Takeaways

  1. General Schedule (GS) employees are white-collar, civilian federal employees who are paid under the GS pay system, which is administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
  2. GS employees enjoy various VA benefits, such as health insurance, retirement and pension plans, and various types of paid time off, including vacation time, sick leave, and holiday pay.
  3. GS pay is determined by a combination of the employee’s grade (based on their position) and step (based on their experience and performance), which ultimately dictates their salary within a particular agency or geographical location.


The term General Schedule (GS) Employees is important in the context of VA benefits because it refers to the federal pay system used to determine the salaries and compensation levels of civilian government employees, including those working for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Many, though not all, VA employees fall under the GS pay scale, which comprises 15 grades, each with ten steps, to accommodate various levels of responsibility, experience, and job complexity.

Understanding the GS pay structure is crucial for VA employees to ensure they receive fair compensation for their work and are aware of potential avenues for career advancement.

Additionally, maintaining a consistent and transparent pay system helps the Department of Veterans Affairs attract and retain qualified employees who are dedicated to assisting veterans and their families.


The General Schedule (GS) Employees system is designed to establish a consistent and transparent pay structure for federal civilian employees, providing employees with stability, career progression opportunities, and ensuring equitable compensation. It serves as the central component for managing and compensating this workforce by assigning and organizing federal positions based on classifications that correspond to each role’s complexity, responsibility, and required qualifications.

The GS pay scale ultimately aims to create a predictable framework for employees and allows various organizations to maintain a fair and competitive salary plan regarding promotions for career development. GS pay scales are carefully constructed to align with the responsibilities and duties of each job category, incorporating multiple factors like education, experience, and location into compensation calculations.

These scheduled pay scales, ranging from GS-1 to GS-15, help to maintain uniformity across federal positions while accounting for differences in expertise and responsibility. Furthermore, the GS pay system enables employees to advance their careers and salaries by moving to higher GS levels seamlessly.

As a vital tool for managing the federal workforce, the General Schedule system assures equitable compensation practices, accountability, and efficiency, ultimately contributing to a well-organized and motivated government workforce.

Examples of General Schedule (GS) Employees

The General Schedule (GS) term under the VA Benefits refers to a system used under the United States federal government to set pay grades and salary ranges for civilian employees. Here are three real-world examples related to GS employees:

GS Employee Promotion: Peter, an administrative officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, starts his career as a GS-5 level employee. After a year of good performance, Peter receives a promotion to a GS-7 level with an accompanying increase in his salary, due to the clearly outlined pay raises in the General Schedule system.

GS Employee Salary Comparison: Susan and John both work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Susan is a GS-9 health services administrator, while John is a GS-11 education program specialist. By referencing the General Schedule, one can see that John receives a higher salary as his pay grade is higher than Susan’s.

GS Employee Pay Adjustment: The federal government announces a 3% cost-of-living increase for all GS employees based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This adjustment ensures that GS employees, including those in the Department of Veterans Affairs, receive a compensation increase to counteract inflation and maintain their purchasing power.

FAQs: VA Benefits for General Schedule (GS) Employees

What are the eligibility requirements for VA benefits for GS employees?

To be eligible for VA benefits as a General Schedule employee, you must be a current or former employee of the federal government and have served in an eligible federal position. Specific eligibility requirements can vary depending on the benefit in question, so it’s important to review the specific program guidelines and consult with the applicable department or agency.

What kind of VA benefits can GS employees access?

General Schedule employees have access to various VA benefits, including healthcare, retirement, life insurance, and various other work-life programs. Some of these benefits may require enrollment or participation in a government-sponsored program to be eligible.

How is the GS employee retirement system structured?

For GS employees, there are two main retirement systems: the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Each system has different structures, coverage, and eligibility requirements. FERS is a three-tiered retirement plan that consists of Social Security, a Basic Benefit Plan, and the Thrift Savings Plan. CSRS is a more traditional pension plan, currently only applicable to employees hired before 1984.

What is the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for GS employees?

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for federal employees, including General Schedule employees. The TSP offers a range of investment options, including index funds, lifecycle funds, and individual bonds. GS employees can contribute a portion of their salary on a pre-tax or Roth basis, and some may receive matching contributions from their employing agency.

How do GS employees access healthcare benefits?

General Schedule employees can access healthcare benefits through the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. FEHB offers a wide range of health insurance plans, including fee-for-service, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and consumer-driven and high deductible health plans. GS employees can choose the plan that best fits their individual or family needs, and premiums are shared between the employee and the agency.

Are life insurance benefits available for GS employees?

Yes, life insurance benefits are available for GS employees through the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program. FEGLI offers Basic Life Insurance and optional additional coverage for employees, their spouses, and dependents. Premiums for Basic Life Insurance are shared between the employee and the agency, while the employee pays the full cost of optional additional coverage.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • GS Pay Scale
  • Locality Adjustments
  • Within-Grade Increases
  • Federal Employee Benefits
  • GS Promotion Process

Sources for More Information

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