Of all the civil service benefits targeted by President Donald Trump’s new budget, one produces a double-whammy for feds who, because of their jobs, are forced to retire early.
In addition to reducing the retirement benefit feds have been expecting, the budget proposal could also trigger a stampede into retirement as experienced law enforcement officers, federal firefighters, and air traffic controllers retire this year before the new proposal takes effect.
Under the budget proposal, LEOs (law enforcement officers) and others would lose a special retirement supplement, which is paid as an annuity (in addition to their regular FERS benefit) until they reach age 62 and qualify for Social Security. That payment can be worth thousands of dollars. When the FERS retirement program, with its less generous civil service annuity, was introduced in the mid-1980s, the Reagan administration insisted that feds forced to retire earlier because of their dangerous or stressful jobs not be punished financially. So the FERS supplement was added to ensure they would be protected, and not punished for being required to retire earlier than most other civil servants.
Staci, the wife of a fed now eligible for the special supplement, asks: “ I am hoping you can help me with a quick question since no one has been able to answer my husband’s questions at his job.”
“One of the budgeted items is to eliminate supplement payments for FERS employees who retire at the beginning of 2018. The supplement approximates the value of Social Security benefits for those who retire before 62. He is in law enforcement. The way I understand it is that this will take effect on 1/1/18, and not the fiscal year of 2018. My husband is a FERS employee and is eligible to retire. We do not want to lose this, so it makes a difference if he has to retire Sept. 30 or Dec. 31.”
David Snell, director of retirement benefits for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees, confirms the bad news. He said:
“The budget proposal to eliminate the FERS special supplement makes no exceptions, so those in law enforcement, firefighters, and air traffic control positions would not receive the benefit. The effective date would be when the budget is signed into law. Those retirees who are currently receiving the Special Supplement when the law is passed will, I understand, continue to receive it until age 62.”
There is a good chance that Congress, if it approves any or all of the budget changes for feds, would move to protect workers who must retire early because of their jobs. There is also the chance that the Trump administration might withdraw it once it learns who would be hit hardest: many of the employees he has praised over and over again for their special, often dangerous work.
Nearly Useless Factoid
By David Thornton
The pigeon is one of only three bird species (the others being flamingos and male emperor penguins) known to produce ‘milk’ to feed their young.