LEO and FERCCA
A Law Enforcement Official (LEO) is defined under title 5 as an employee whose chief responsibilities are to investigate, apprehend, or detain individuals suspected of or convicted of an offense against the criminal laws of the United States. It is further the LEO’s responsibility to protect officials of the United States against threats to their personal safety.
There is often confusion as to who qualifies as a Federal Law Enforcement Officer. Therefore, it is always a good idea to check with your Human Resources Office to verify and validate your official status or designation.
Because the duties and responsibilities of LEOs are sufficiently rigorous with a high risk of danger, the law stipulates that LEO employment opportunities should be at best limited to persons between the ages of 21 and 36 who have not reached their 37th birthday and be in excellent physical health. There are Law Enforcement categories whose age requirements might differ slightly. However, the upper end of the spectrum is in most cases the same, having not reached the age of 37.
For clarity, we are going to list those positions that are typically considered Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs): FBI special agents, Park Police (covered under FERS), Secret Service Agents (covered under FERS), Capitol Police, Border Patrol agents, Customs Investigators, Criminal Investigators, Deputy U.S. Marshals, Federal Probation and Parole Officers, Instructors at the Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) are covered as secondary LEO positions, and many other positions that fall under the Bureau of Prisons and the Federal Bureau Prison Industry.
It is important for any category of LEO, particularly in the Federal Service where a number of special provisions apply for the purpose of retirement, to check their classification status so they are certain to reap all of the LEO retirement benefits available to them. It cannot be emphasized enough that federal employees should check with their Human Resources Office to make certain they are appropriately classified and are in the correct retirement system. FERCCA (Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Corrections Act) attempts to correct the long-term harm employees may face who have been put in the wrong retirement system.
The Federal workforce is such a huge entity that errors are inevitable and for LEOs that is no different. However, the good news is that provisions such as FERCCA are in place in order to assure the best possible retirement planning for the Federal workforce and for LEOs alike. FERCCA could allow individuals placed in the wrong retirement plan an opportunity to make up contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan and possibly recover lost earnings on those contributions. FERCCA also may benefit impacted employees via rule changes that might make a difference in how their service computation towards retirement was handled.
There are even circumstances where LEOs might be allowed to choose another retirement plan or be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses you might have incurred as a result of being in the wrong retirement plan.
P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.