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General Schedule (GS) Within-Grade Increase

Definition The General Schedule (GS) Within-Grade Increase refers to an increase in an employee’s pay within the same GS level, based on satisfactory job performance and experience. This periodic increase occurs after a certain period of time worked, as stipulated by the Office of Personnel Management guidelines. In essence, it is a pay raise within […]


The General Schedule (GS) Within-Grade Increase refers to an increase in an employee’s pay within the same GS level, based on satisfactory job performance and experience. This periodic increase occurs after a certain period of time worked, as stipulated by the Office of Personnel Management guidelines. In essence, it is a pay raise within the same job classification for eligible federal employees.

Key Takeaways

  1. A General Schedule (GS) Within-Grade Increase refers to the periodic increase in the pay of federal employees working within the General Schedule pay system, based on factors such as performance and length of service.
  2. Within-Grade Increases typically occur every 1 to 3 years, depending on the GS level and step of the employee, provided they meet the necessary requirements involving satisfactory job performance and the completion of a required waiting period.
  3. This type of pay increase is intended to reward employees for their continued dedication and growth in their roles, as well as to provide an incentive for them to remain in their current positions with the federal government.


The VA benefits term General Schedule (GS) Within-Grade Increase is important because it signifies the progression of federal employees within their designated pay scale.

This increase addresses the compensation of employees based on their experience, performance, and skill set, ultimately rewarding them for their dedication and contributions to their job.

As a result, the GS Within-Grade Increase promotes employee retention and job satisfaction within the Veterans Affairs department.

Furthermore, it ensures that skilled and experienced employees continue to serve their community and provide valuable services to veterans while fostering a sense of merit-based recognition and fairness within the organization.


The General Schedule (GS) Within-Grade Increase serves the purpose of rewarding and retaining federal employees who showcase consistent performance and dedication in their respective positions. As employees grow and increase their proficiency in a specific role, the GS Within-Grade Increase aims to incentivize and recognize their hard work, by providing them with a structured, periodic pay increase.

This system not only boosts morale among the workforce but also helps to mitigate the turnover rate by encouraging employees to stay within their agencies, thus contributing to a stable and experienced workforce. Within the General Schedule pay system, which encompasses 15 grades and ten steps within each grade, employees can anticipate an increase in pay as they gain experience and meet specific performance requirements.

The GS Within-Grade Increase is designed to establish a standardized process for such pay raises, with the ultimate goal of promoting fairness and transparency throughout various government agencies. Employees are typically eligible for a within-grade increase after completing a specific waiting period at their current step, dependent on the step they are in.

If they maintain an acceptable level of competence in their roles, they may receive a bump up in their pay grade accordingly. This structured approach ensures that employees can focus on enhancing their skills while being duly acknowledged and remunerated for their invaluable contributions to the government sector.

Examples of General Schedule (GS) Within-Grade Increase

A General Schedule (GS) Within-Grade Increase (WGI) is a pay raise given to federal employees based on their performance, and the length of service within their current GS pay grade. Here are three real-world examples related to GS Within-Grade Increases (WGI) for Veterans Affairs (VA) employees:

Example 1 – A VA Hospital Nurse:A nurse working in a Veterans Affairs hospital, classified at the GS-9 pay grade, has successfully completed one year in that position. Based on her satisfactory performance, she becomes eligible for and receives a within-grade increase, raising her salary to the GS-9, Step 2 level.

Example 2 – A VA Claims Examiner:A VA claims examiner at the GS-11 pay grade has served two years within the same grade. With an excellent performance record, he is granted a within-grade increase, which boosts his pay to the GS-11, Step 3 level, ensuring his salary reflects his experience, performance, and federal service time.

Example 3 – A VA Social Worker:A VA social worker has been in the GS-12 pay grade for over 4 years, but has already received three within-grade pay raises (Step 2, Step 3, and Step 4). After reaching the waiting period required for GS-12 employees, which is three years for each step increase beyond Step 3, the social worker becomes eligible for their fourth within-grade pay increase. Upon conducting a review and confirming the worker’s excellent job performance, the VA grants the employee the appropriate within-grade increase to GS-12, Step

FAQ: General Schedule (GS) Within-Grade Increase

What is a General Schedule (GS) Within-Grade Increase?

A General Schedule (GS) Within-Grade Increase (WGI) is a periodic pay rate increase for federal employees who are part of the General Schedule pay system. It is based on satisfactory job performance and occurs after a specified waiting period, typically one to three years depending on the employee’s GS level.

How often can an employee receive a Within-Grade Increase?

Within-Grade Increases occur after completing a specified waiting period, which is determined by the employee’s current GS level. For GS-1 to GS-3, the waiting period is 52 weeks; for GS-4 to GS-6, it’s104 weeks; and for GS-7 to GS-15, the waiting period is 156 weeks. If the employee’s job performance is satisfactory, they can receive a WGI after completing the waiting period.

How is a Within-Grade Increase calculated?

Within-Grade Increases are calculated based on the employee’s current GS level and step. Each increase advances the employee one step within their grade, up to a maximum of step 10. The increase in pay between steps varies depending on the employee’s GS level, with higher levels receiving larger pay increases between steps.

What factors impact eligibility for a Within-Grade Increase?

Eligibility for a Within-Grade Increase depends on the employee’s job performance, length of service, and current GS level. Employees must complete the necessary waiting period and receive a rating of “fully successful” or higher in their most recent performance appraisal to qualify for a WGI.

Can an employee be denied a Within-Grade Increase?

An employee can be denied a Within-Grade Increase if their job performance is not deemed to be “fully successful” during their current waiting period. Supervisors are responsible for evaluating employee performance and may withhold a WGI if performance standards are not met. If an employee is denied a WGI, they may be given an opportunity to improve their performance in order to eventually qualify for the increase.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • General Schedule (GS) Pay Scale
  • General Schedule Step Increases
  • Waiting Period for Within-Grade Increases
  • Acceptable Level of Competence Determination
  • Mandatory Training for GS Employees

Sources for More Information

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