Acts of Congress

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Q. I’ve been with the government for 32 years and have based my TSP contributions on having the special retirement supplement when I’m eligible to retire in six years. Can Congress approve the budget and eliminate something that’s been promised to millions of federal employees just like that? This seems like a breach of contract and illegal. Am I wrong about that? Wouldn’t current employees have to be grandfathered in?

A. It would neither be a breach of contract nor illegal. Since Congress passed the law that provided this benefit, it can pass another law that takes it away. However, based on past experience, if it does eliminate that benefit, it’s more likely that the change wouldn’t go into effect immediately. Further, it might exempt those with a particular combination of age and service.

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About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

13 Comments

  1. I agree that if Congress eliminates the SRS they will likely put in a grandfather clause like you suggested who are of a specified age + years of service combination will still be able to use the SRS benefits.

    Example: those age 47+ w/20+years of credible civil service at the time SRS elimination bill becomes law would still have grandfathered eligibility to use their SRS benefits when their eligible.

  2. Valhalla Sel on

    Are people with 32 years of service with the government that out of touch that they don’t even understand what the role of congress is in law-making. Gee whiz…

      • William McCarthy on

        related question – if you are retired now could congress pass a law to take the bridge away from existing retirees ?

        • While the Congress can do anything, I’m not aware of any negative changes to federal retiree benefits that were applied retroactively.

      • Yeah, well, I don’t agree, Reg. Congress is proposing the most savage healthcare claw back in history, so you’re being a little overly optimistic about what’s possible with the current set of right-wing wackos in power. Most government employees are good-citizens-times-ten who spent 2, 3, or 4 decades planning their lives around promises made to them. Reneging on those promises is bad faith. If good-citizens-times-ten decide that, because Congress doesn’t need to “keep the faith” and follow the rules and make good on their promises, that we times-ten folks don’t need to follow the rules either, the Revolution won’t be far away … Viva La Resistance …

        • Chacun à son goût. So far talk on the Hill has been cheap and action limited on nearly every subject. Let’s hope that this is just bluff and bluster.

  3. I read this statement “Eliminate the FERS annuity supplement for eligible employees retiring 2018 and beyond.” Does this refer to fiscal year 2018, starting in October of 2017 or calendar year 2018 starting in January of 2018.

  4. I planned to retire age 56 with 35 years service on my birthday Jan 15 2018. If the supplement is stopped for retirees starting Jan 1 2018, what would happen if I retired Dec 29,2017 2 weeks before my 56th birthday?

    • If you did that, you’d be entitled to a deferred annuity, which you’d begin receiving after you reached your 56th birthday. However, it’s worth noting that deferred annuitants aren’t eligible to re-enroll in the FEHB and FEGLI programs when their annuity begins. Note: For what it’s worth, two recent retirees told me that although they had retired shortly before reaching the right age, OPM considered that close enough and granted them a regular annuity.

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