CSRS and FERS Phased Retirement Eligibility
Someone asked whether both CSRS and FERS employees could participate in the phased retirement program. Yes they can, all things being equal. OPM was required to publish regulations and guidelines implementing phased retirement both under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS). Employees who participate in phased retirement are able to retire fully after being a part of phased retirement.
Currently OPM’s regulations state that participants work half time and receive a half-time annuity. Those percentages may change in the future according to OPM as program needs shift to align with the challenges of the 21st century. One of the strongest parts of the phased retirement program is that what might be appropriate for one agency might not be appropriate for another in terms of implementation. The agencies have a rather wide-expanse from which to customize their programs within the guidelines and parameters set by OPM.
Because retirement is always a sensitive subject and one that requires much thought and planning; entering into an agreement with your agency to participate in phased retirement must be given careful consideration. Since phased retirement is a new program, a new tool, it does not negate the primary action of taking good care of yourself by educating yourself. The more you know about anything, a more informed decision you will be able to make.
Phased retirement is certainly the new kid on the block and there are many lingering questions about what it means for employees participating on a number of fronts. What appears most important is the definition and purpose of phased retirement. It is no secret that every organization would be wise to protect, preserve and pass on institutional knowledge. That is exactly what the driving force is behind OPM’s push to create this new program or what they term a human resources tool that will protect the federal government’s institutional knowledge. Therefore, the program has little or nothing to do with anything else.
The Federal Government like many organizations realized on the back end that the passing on of institutional knowledge is a huge, irreplaceable component of any sound succession management plan. We are not going to stand in line to throw rocks at the Federal Government because I can assure you that many other organizations are guilty of a similar infraction or oversight. The difference is that the Federal Government just so happens to be the largest employer in the world. When an entity carries that distinction, operations might have to be carried out with greater efficiency. Now that OPM has implemented phased retirement which is also a work in progress, it hopefully will be a staunch reminder that the knowledge you gain in the work place, the skills you acquire in order to accomplish the duties and responsibilities of a position; be you a part of the federal, private, academic or non-profit world, do not belong to you, but to the institution. You don’t hold a patent on that information in this regard and in the end it does not make you indispensable. What it does create is a culture of costly inefficiency.
In actuality the world should have never become acquainted with the term ‘phased retirement‘ from the Federal Government particularly for the purpose for which it was created.
P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.
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