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Sec. 7431. - Special pay: authority


In order to recruit and retain highly qualified physicians and dentists in the Veterans Health Administration, the Secretary shall provide special pay under this subchapter. Such special pay shall be provided under regulations that the Secretary shall prescribe to carry out this subchapter. Before prescribing regulations under this subchapter, the Secretary shall receive the recommendations of the Under Secretary for Health with respect to those regulations.


Special pay may be paid to a physician or dentist under this subchapter only upon the execution of, and for the duration of, a written agreement entered into by the physician or dentist in accordance with section 7432 of this title.


A physician or dentist serving a period of obligated service pursuant to chapter 76 of this title is not eligible for special pay under this subchapter during the first three years of such obligated service, except that, at the discretion of the Secretary and upon the recommendation of the Under Secretary for Health, such a physician or dentist may be paid special pay for full-time status during those three years.


The Secretary may determine categories of positions applicable to either physicians or dentists, or both, in the Veterans Health Administration as to which there is no significant recruitment and retention problem. While any such determination is in effect, the Secretary may not enter into an agreement under this subchapter with a physician or dentist serving in a position covered by the determination. Before making a determination under this paragraph, the Secretary shall receive the recommendations of the Under Secretary for Health with respect to the determination.


Not later than one year after making any such determination with respect to a category of positions, and each year thereafter that such determination remains in effect, the Secretary shall make a redetermination.


Any determination under this subsection shall be in accordance with regulations prescribed to carry out this subchapter.


If the Under Secretary for Health determines that payment of special pay to a physician or dentist who is employed on a less than half-time basis is the most cost-effective way available for providing needed medical or dental specialist services at a Department facility, the Under Secretary for Health may authorize the payment of special pay for factors other than for full-time status to that physician or dentist at a rate computed on the basis of the proportion that the part-time employment of the physician or dentist bears to full-time employment.


Special pay may not be paid under this section to a physician or dentist who -


is employed on less than a quarter-time basis or on an intermittent basis;


occupies an internship or residency training position; or


is a reemployed annuitant.


In the case of a physician or dentist who is employed in a position that is covered by a determination by the Secretary under subsection (d)(1) that the Administration does not have a significant recruitment or retention problem with respect to a particular category of positions and who on the day before the effective date of this subchapter was receiving special pay under an agreement entered into under section 4118 of this title (as in effect before such date), the Secretary may pay to that physician or dentist, in addition to basic pay, retention pay under this subsection.


The annual rate of such retention pay for any individual may not exceed the rate which, when added to the rate of basic pay payable to that individual, is equal to the sum of the annual rate of basic pay and the annual rate of special pay paid to that physician or dentist pursuant to the final agreement with that individual under such section 4118.


Such retention pay shall be treated for all purposes as special pay paid under subchapter III of chapter 74 of this title.


Retention pay under this subsection shall be paid under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe


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