It’s not just a phase

Does following news about the federal establishment make you depressed. Does talk about extended pay freezes and reduced retirement benefits make you nervous in...

Gas prices are going up (again), traffic is getting worse every day, some politicians are in a race to see how many bureaucratic scalps they can take before election day. Longtime (and former) friends of feds are being very quiet. You, sadly, aren’t getting any younger. So why do you keep on doing what you do?

You aren’t hanging on for a pay raise because there hasn’t been on in two years. And the freeze may be extended. So what’s in it for you?

Although many nonfeds find it (the work ethic) hard to believe, a lot of federal government workers really like their job. And their mission, whether they are supporting the troops, caring for the sick, defending the homeland or collecting money so Uncle Sam doesn’t have to rely entirely on China as his credit union.

OPM is making headway in reducing its backlog on retirement applications. Retirees get interim payments (anywhere from 40 to 80 percent of the estimated amount due them) until they are cleared. This can take months. In some cases many months.

But there is light at the end of the working tunnel for some people. In June, Congress approved and the President signed legislation that permits phased retirement. For workers who qualify the deal would be that they agree to take a slightly reduced future pension benefit in return for getting a reduced pension while working (and being paid for) reduced hours.

Agencies (not the employee) will decide who can go on phased retirement.

On yesterday’s Your Turn radio show Federal Times Senior Writer Stephen Losey talked about the new phased retirement option. As in what it does, and who would benefit most.

There is an old half-true adage in the banking business: That is, if you desperately need a loan of a large sum of money you probably shouldn’t get it.

The same, to some extent, is true of the phased retirement option: That is, the ideal candidate is someone who (until it came along) was ready, willing and able to retire.

For those people, Losey said, phased retirement is an excellent option.

The ideal candidate for phased retirement, he said is a fed “already planning to retire completely in the near future…and who takes the phased option to add another few years onto his or her years of service…” They would be prepared both financially and psychologically for the changes that retirement — not working and getting a reduced income — generally bring.

Congress insisted that people chosen for phased retirement be required to spent at least 20 percent of their time mentoring younger workers and or helping to train and prep their replacements. The Congressional Budget Office said if the program works as advertised (always a major if in legislation), it would save the government $427 million over the next 10 years

To hear the entire show, click here.

Lots more to come on the subject.


By Jack Moore

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