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General Schedule (GS) Withheld Step Increase


A General Schedule (GS) Withheld Step Increase refers to the postponement of a scheduled pay raise within the U.S. federal government’s General Schedule pay scale, typically due to concerns regarding an employee’s performance. It usually occurs when an employee does not meet the satisfactory performance standards determined by their agency. The withheld increase remains postponed until the employee’s performance improves and they become eligible for the step increase again.

Key Takeaways

  1. A General Schedule (GS) Withheld Step Increase refers to the temporary delay or withholding of an employee’s scheduled step increase in the GS pay scale, usually due to performance or disciplinary issues.
  2. When a GS step increase is withheld, the affected employee will not receive the standard pay increase associated with the given step until specific requirements or conditions are met, such as demonstrating satisfactory performance or addressing the identified issues.
  3. Upon satisfying the requirements or resolving the issues that led to the withholding of the step increase, the employee will typically be granted the withheld step increase and be eligible to continue progressing through the GS pay scale.


The VA benefits term General Schedule (GS) Withheld Step Increase is important because it impacts the career progression and financial well-being of employees within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This term refers to the temporary withholding of a salary step increase, which can be due to performance or disciplinary issues.

Step increases are designed to reward eligible employees in the federal government’s General Schedule pay system for their longevity, dedication, and experience in their positions.

When a GS Withheld Step Increase occurs, it may result in a delay in receiving the expected salary increase and may potentially affect an employee’s overall career advancement within the VA.

Understanding and addressing the reasons for a withheld step increase can be crucial for employees to maintain a positive employment standing and restore their eligibility for future step increases.


The General Schedule (GS) Withheld Step Increase is a provision within the VA benefits system that aims to ensure fair remuneration and facilitate career progression of federal employees, particularly those within the Department of Veterans Affairs. This policy safeguards the management of employees’ salaries within a certain GS level, while factoring in their experience, qualifications, and performance indicators.

By withholding scheduled step increases, the VA can ensure that employees are not unjustly advancing through the pay scale, concentrating on their professional growth and addressing any performance-related concerns. Through the implementation of the GS Withheld Step Increase policy, the VA is able to uphold a merit-based system that recognizes and rewards employees for their dedication and hard work.

This provision not only aids in employee motivation and retention but also fosters a sense of accountability within the workforce. Consequently, it creates an environment where staff members are committed to the mission of providing exceptional care and support to veterans.

By emphasizing performance-based appraisals and striving for consistent professional growth, the VA is able to sustain a proficient and compassionate workforce in service of those who have served the nation.

Examples of General Schedule (GS) Withheld Step Increase

A General Schedule (GS) withheld step increase refers to a situation where an employee’s scheduled pay increase within the federal government, specifically the Veterans Affairs (VA), is temporarily deferred. This can be due to performance issues, ongoing investigations, or other factors. Here are three real-world examples:

Performance Issues: An employee at a VA hospital who is scheduled to receive a step increase in the GS pay scale might have their step increase withheld if they fail to meet the performance expectations set by their supervisor. Over the past year, this employee might have made several errors in organizing and coordinating medical appointments which resulted in significant delays for veteran patients. Due to these performance issues, the supervisor decides to withhold the step increase until the employee demonstrates improvement.

Pending Investigation: A VA Benefits counselor who is due for a step increase in the GS pay scale may have their increase withheld due to allegations of misconduct, such as sharing sensitive veteran information with unauthorized personnel. While an internal investigation is underway, the counselor’s step increase would remain withheld until the investigation is complete and appropriate actions are taken. If the investigation clears the employee of any misconduct, their step increase may be awarded retroactively.

Disciplinary Action: An employee at a VA regional office might face a withheld step increase if they continually arrive late to work, neglect duties, or engage in unprofessional behavior. As part of a disciplinary action, their supervisor could decide to withhold the scheduled step increase until the employee corrects their behavior and establishes a pattern of punctuality and professionalism. If the employee complies, they may regain their step increase after the conditions have been met and sustained for a specified period.

FAQ: General Schedule (GS) Withheld Step Increase

1. What is a General Schedule (GS) Withheld Step Increase?

A General Schedule (GS) Withheld Step Increase refers to a situation where an employee’s step increase within their GS pay grade is held back or withheld due to various reasons such as performance issues or disciplinary actions.

2. How long can a step increase be withheld?

A step increase can be withheld until the employee’s performance improves, disciplinary issues are resolved, or the necessary conditions for the increase are met. The duration may vary depending on the employee’s specific situation and the factors leading to the withholding.

3. Can a withheld step increase be restored?

A withheld step increase can be restored once the reasons for withholding it have been addressed. The employee must demonstrate improved performance, resolve any disciplinary issues, or meet any other necessary conditions required for the step increase to be restored.

4. How does a withheld step increase affect an employee’s overall GS pay grade?

If a step increase is withheld, it may temporarily affect the employee’s overall GS pay grade and progression. However, once the employee has addressed the reasons for the withholding and meets all necessary requirements, their pay grade progression may be restored or resume as per the GS pay scale and policies.

5. What can an employee do if they disagree with a withheld step increase?

If an employee believes that their step increase has been unfairly withheld, they can discuss the issue with their supervisor or human resources representative to better understand the reasons behind it. They can also use their agency’s grievance or appeals process to challenge the decision if they feel it is unjust.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • GS Pay Scale
  • Merit-Based Promotions
  • Locality Pay Adjustments
  • Performance-Based Step Increases
  • Government Employee Benefits

Sources for More Information