What is the Effect of Proposed FERS Benefits Cuts?



It is quite unusual for federal agencies to publicly air out their policy disagreements in an aggressive manner. The following is an example of a case that is very unusual.


The Office of Inspector General (OIG) was requested by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) not to go ahead with the publication of a report it had prepared on how some federal employees are being affected by a particular retirement computation issue. According to OPM, the OIG report would ignore other groups in federal service and appear to only favor the affected group.


The OIG went ahead to publish the report claiming that any Federal law enforcement personnel depends on the Retirement Services Program. In fact, OIG argued that OPM would be adopting a highly significant change in its program administration.


Why the Public Disagreement


The fact that OPM asked the Office of Inspector General not to publish the report meant that there would be much controversy leading to a heated public disagreement between the two offices.  There has been a significant reduction in the monthly annuity payment for divorced federal law enforcement officers that are in their retirement.


Carol Schmidlin, a FedSmith author, was the first person to come up with a public explanation of why retired federal law enforcement officers were experiencing a significant reduction in their annuity payments. The OIG report explains what appended and why there was a reduction in annuity payments for LEOs.


Why the OIG is keen on investigating the Issue


The OPM decided to reverse how a retirement annuity would be split by the agency based on the part of the annuity meant for a former spouse as ordered by the court. It is this decision that that was probed by OIG in its report that was published on February 5, 2018.


The main issue was that former spouses of retired federal law enforcement officers were receiving more money than the former officers. The OPM made some changes in the computation of retirement annuity, and that is why the former officers end up with less pay.


Why are LEOs Different?


The fact that law enforcement officers retire early makes them different from other federal employees. The stringent physical demands of the job make 57 years to be their mandatory retirement age.


OIG Recommendations


The OIG concluded that the new policy by OPM was not implemented in the right way and was therefore wrong. It also called for the discontinuation of the new policy and restoration of the annuity supplement for LEOs.

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