Skip Navigation

Pay and Benefits

The USDA is committed to public service. We are also committed to our employees through our generous pay and benefits program. You will learn more about this once you start at USDA. This page will give you important information on your pay and benefits prior to your arrival. As always, if you have any questions, please contact your HR Specialist.


While most benefits are available to all employees, some are not. To help you understand what benefits you are entitled to as a USDA employee, please contact your HR Hman Ressource Specialist



Once you know what benefits you can receive as a USDA employee, we want you to be able to explore them and begin to understand them.

Your benefits package will depend on the length of your appointment and appointment type. Please contact your HR Operations Human Resource Specialist for specific information regarding your benefits.

Benefits Information on AgLearn

The USDA’s online learning tool, AgLearn, offers a wealth of information on Federal benefits, including information on retirement planning, Thrift Savings Program, Social Security and Medicare, Long Term Care Insurance, Flexible Spending Accounts and more. Once you have your eAuthentication username and password you can access AgLearn to learn about available benefits and view courses.


Flexible Spending Accounts

As an FSAFEDS participant, you will experience tax savings benefits that come with a flexible spending account. Whether you are contributing $250 or $5,000 to your account you will be paying less in taxes and putting more money into your pocket. Be sure to explore FSAFEDS soon because newly hired employees have 60 days after their start date to enroll in the FSAFEDS Program. Learn more about:

The many health care expenses that are eligible;

How day care expenses are also covered;

How easy it is to use;

By visiting:


Pay Calendar

USDA employees, like most other Federal employees, are paid every two weeks. The official USDA payday falls on Thursdays. However, most of the time, electronic funds are sent to your financial institution the weekend before. Funds are actually available to you based on your financial institution’s policies, so be sure to check with them.

Here’s a link to the pay calendar.


Salary and Wages

When you accepted your position at USDA, a specific salary was agreed upon. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) governs pay for all Federal employees. You can review official pay charts by visiting the OPM web site.

  • Executive Schedule (not SES): Executive level pay information.
  • General Schedule Most USDA employees are covered under the General Schedule (GS) pay system. GS pay varies based on where your duty station is- this is called locality pay. Be sure you check the pay chart for your area. If your area has no locality pay, then use the "Rest of the United States" pay chart.

Employee Personal Page

Your pay, leave and other important personal information about the benefits you selected can be found on the Employee Personal Page.


Commuter Transit Subsidy Program

Federal employees who use public transportation to and from work can receive a subsidy from the USDA to cover all or part of this cost. The USDA has a transit subsidy coordinator who can provide you with specific information about the program and the current maximum subsidy amount. View a list of the coordinators.

FAQs on the Commuter Transit Subsidy Program:

Q1: Who is eligible for the USDA Commuter Transit Subsidy Benefits Program?
A1: All USDA salaried employees, including part-time, temporary, stay-in-school and those who work on an intermittent work schedule, provided they use mass public transportation, which includes, but is not limited to: buses, subways, rail, light rail, elevated rail, streetcars, trolleys, ferries and/or authorized vanpools to commute daily to and from work and do not receive a free Federal parking benefit. Student volunteers are also eligible.


Q2: How much commuter transit subsidy benefit am I eligible to receive?
A2: Up to the current statutory limit or your actual commuting cost, whichever is less. Your coordinator can supply you with figures.


Q3: How do I apply?
A3: Employees must complete and sign both pages of the AD-1147, Public Transportation Benefit Program Application . Submit these to your designated Commuter Transit Subsidy Benefits Program Coordinator in hard copy, fax or via scanned email. View a listing of coordinators .


Q4: When can I apply for the program and when are benefits effective?
A4: Employees may apply for benefits upon arrival at USDA. They become eligible for benefits on the date of their signed application.


Q5: What if my commuting costs increase or decrease, my name changes, my address changes, etc?
A5: A new application is required.


Q6: What if I no longer wish to commute using mass public transportation and/or eligible vanpool, retire, resign or transfer to another federal agency?
A6: You must cancel your subsidy with your transit coordinator and return any fare media that you have received but that you will not be using to commute. You may also elect to reimburse USDA for that amount of fare media via a check to USDA.


Q7: What if my fare media is lost, stolen or damaged?
A7: Lost, stolen and/or damaged fare media will not be replaced.


Q8: How will I receive my benefits?
A8. Either in the form of Smart Benefits or Smart Vouchers.


Q9: Are there any restrictions to this program?

  • You may not give, sell, transfer, discard and/or destroy the fare media
  • You may not continue to accept and/or receive fare media if you are no longer eligible for the benefit (for example, if you leave USDA)
  • Benefits are for daily commuting only and must not be used for traveling back and forth to agency sponsored training, meetings or other events

Employee Pre-Tax Parking Program

Under current IRS rules, USDA employees may qualify for pre-tax parking rates. Several restrictions apply:

  • Employees must take mass transportation, or ride in a vanpool, or in a carpool of two or more persons from the parking location to work.
  • Employees must pay to park at an eligible location. Eligible locations include a Metro parking lot, a commercial lot, a privately owned parking lot, a parking garage, a parking meter or employer-provided parking.
  • Employees may only qualify for up to $230/month. For example, if your parking costs are $300 a month, only $230/month may be excluded from Federal tax.

Remember that you will still receive the same amount in your paycheck; the only change is that the qualified amount is not taxed.


FAQs on the Pre-Tax Parking Program

How do I apply?
Eligible employees should submit an AD 1185 Pre Tax Parking Application to their designated transit subsidy coordinator. The transit subsidy coordinator will submit the approved application to the servicing personnel office for inputting into the National Finance Center personnel/payroll system. View a list of the coordinators.

How much will I save?
If you are eligible for the maximum monthly amount of $230:

Multiply $230 x 12 months = $2,760.00

Divide by 26 pay periods = $ 106.15

$106.15 will not be taxed each pay period. You save that amount of Federal tax, based on your tax bracket.

For a carpool to qualify, must all members be USDA employees?

Can an employee driving a vanpool or carpool be authorized for pre-tax parking?
Yes. Example: The primary driver of a vanpool or carpool that parks in an eligible parking location and whose members then walk to work is eligible for pre-tax parking.

Is proof of the cost of parking required?
Yes. It may be in the form of a parking lot receipt or, if no receipt is provided, the application itself will suffice.

What document is used to report the amount of an employee’s pre-tax parking to the Internal Revenue Service?
The W-2 form.