There have been changes in control in the House that Employee Organizations have seen as an opportunity to help in address two issues in federal retirement, which is paying full FERS COLAs right away and rolling back required contributions increases raise to ensure they all pay the 0.8 percent as traditionally required.
Working out the Kinks in the System
The federal government believes that all employees should be given equal treatment, but when it comes to the retirement benefits, this does not usually apply. Even worse, the political leaders do not want to spare the time to discuss how this issue can be eliminated.
With the mid-term elections came changes in who’s in control of the House, which was initially controlled by republican, but switched to Democratic. This process came in handy with an increase of up to 100 new members sent to Washington. These are people who probably know little or nothing about the retirement benefits, but they can be taught with time.
Take an example of 10 years ago when changes in the control of the House lead to a rapture of activities on federal retirement, all which were meant to help in getting the kinks out of the system. These are issues that had always been there, despite not being recognized for years, yet nothing had been done about them.
There were a few changes on the CSRS benefits for employees that worked part-time, but the main changes revolved around FERS. There was one FERS worker who left, withdrew his retirement contributions, and later in the years returned to the government to claim the previous years of service toward their annuities. The employee, however, had to repay the money with interest, and this option is always available under CSRS.
At that moment, even employees that had taken part in the creation of FERS in the 80s were not sure of why the differences between CSRS and FERS even existed. There were a few outstanding efforts and, although they did not get rid of the bugs, the change of control to Republican the following year may have stopped the momentum.
The remaining bugs are the differences in COLA policy between CSRS and FERS. The CSRS retirees qualify for full inflation adjustments, regardless of their age, while the FERS retirees, even the disabled, do not qualify for COLA until they are 62 years old. What’s more is that the FERS workers pay one of the three levels of contributions for their retirement savings based on the year they were hired. This policy was adopted after the enacted 2012 – 2013 laws.
Workers are taking advantage of the new changes and believe it is the time to address the two issues. It is time to pay the FERS COLAs in full immediately, and roll back the required contributions increases.