So, Who Drew the Short Straw?

Do the new benefits approved for FERS employees give them a better deal than their older colleagues under the CSRS retirement plan? Senior Correspondent Mike Ca...

In this business you learn (or should learn) real fast that the best columns are nearly always those written by readers. That’s not false modesty, that’s fact! Readers bring actual experience, historical perspective and ground truth to the table.

Case in point…

Friday’s column was about how feds feel that their younger or older colleagues have the better deal, based on the retirement plan (CSRS or FERS) they are in. As in the grass-is-always-greener.

We asked people if there was anything like a civil war in their offices.

Wow! We hit a nerve!

Lots of e-mails. So many that we’ll have to run another batch later.

But they bring a perspective my rather simplistic question.

  • “I’m retired, 41 years under CSRS… went back to work with the government as a part-time contractor. I was around when the folks under CSRS were ‘offered’ the conversion to FERS. I was amazed that any one would consider such a move. As with many private sector large companies, the lawmakers decided to cut costs and degrade the retirement benefits of their federal workforce. No one inside or out of government liked what they saw.

    “…folks, like me, who came in under CSRS should shut up and enjoy the benefit package they signed up to. Those folks who came in under FERS should shut up and accept the benefits arrangement they signed up to. If the lawmakers take something away from the government workforce that they initially signed up to, then of course there is injustice. If not, FERS and CSRS folks should do their job or find another in private industry…. People need to concentrate more on their profession and family activities.” Ron S.

  • “I want I want I want!!! Seems like that is all you hear. The sick leave credit for FERS employees (like me) is nice, but I think it should only be a 50% benefit anyway. That would give you some encouragement to save your leave, but wouldn’t approach the benefits of the CSRS program. They have their program, we have ours. There is no need to try to make them identical.

    As far as the pay raise goes, 2% is more than generous in this economic climate. But if 2% is good enough for the civilian workforce, it should also be good enough for the military.” Rich R., 17yr FERS employee in the IC

  • “Oh for Pete’s sake! FERS employees knew what conditions they were hired under. CSRS employees had the option to switch when FERS was created. They all need to stop whining, be grateful they have a paycheck and decent health care and do their jobs! If there are rifts in offices between CSRS and FERS employees, all those people are doing is confirming the worst stereotypes of government employees. Marcy, Kansas City
  • “I don’t see any signs of this office rift. I’m a CSRS employee nearing retirement. Sure I would love or have loved to be getting a TSP 5% match, but I would not trade the CSRS full retirement COLA for the FERS diet COLA just to get it.

    “The giving FERS the sick leave credit is a mirrors and lights benefit. Regardless of if you are CSRS or FERS, having an elective surgery or other reason to use your sick leave and be paid 100% for it, plus have the days added to your career will always be a better financial deal than just adding the days to the length of career calculation. Barry at IRS

  • “What rift? The FERS employees in my office that wanted to retire in the next 2-3 years are bitching that they’re only going to get 50% credit for their sick leave. Over my 30 plus years of Service, no matter the pay raise, benefit increase, you’ll have people who will complain. Human nature. Part of Federal Service.” Allan T.
  • “This might sound funny or awful, depending on how you look at it, but in our office we have some people that already qualified for retirement, and that really should retire, but now with the phased-in change from Cost of Living Allowances to Locality Pay, they are now staying for another 3 years!!” Puerto Rico

To reach me:

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

The Smithsonian Magazine notes the first soldier laid to rest in Arlington cemetery, Pvt. William Christman, 21, of the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry, “never knew a day of combat. Like others who would join him at Arlington, he was felled by disease; he died of peritonitis…”

Why this is “Nearly Useless”: without this kind of forum, that factoid is really, really hard to work into conversation.


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