Expert's View

In 2000 the Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Corrections Act became law. It was designed to allow the correction of problems that arose when agencies put some of their employees in the wrong retirement system. Errors began showing up after January 1, 1984, when all new employees hired by the federal government (and some who were rehired) were required to be covered by Social Security. The problem was compounded when the Federal Employees Retirement System went on line in 1987, requiring that certain employees be automatically converted to FERS.

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Since then there have been concerted efforts to correct those errors, and ten years into the effort, it’s clear that problems remain.

The latest push was signaled by OPM on May 25, when it issued a Benefits Administration Letter to agencies. It began by reminding them that they first had to determine if an employee was eligible to make a retirement election and directed them to earlier guidance on the subject.

The focus of this new guidance was on enrollment errors discovered after August 1, 2004. As a further help, OPM provided a series of appendices, each designed to cover a particular situation. I’ve listed them below:

Appendix I: Erroneous CSRS Coverage Employee Belongs in FERS: Election Between CSRS Offset and FERS

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Appendix II: Erroneous CSRS Offset Coverage Employee Belongs in FERS: Election Between CSRS Offset and FERS

Appendix III: Erroneous CSRS Coverage Employee Belongs in Social Security Only: Election Between CSRS Offset and Social Security Only

Appendix IV:  Erroneous CSRS Offset Coverage Employee Belongs in Social Security Only: Election Between CSRS Offset and Social Security Only

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Appendix V: Erroneous FERS Coverage Employee Belongs in CSRS: Election Between FERS and CSRS Offset

Appendix VI: Erroneous FERS Employee Belongs in CSRS Offset: Election Between FERS or CSRS Offset

Appendix VII: Erroneous FERS Coverage Employee Belongs in Social Security Only; Election Between FERS or Social Security Only

While the main responsibility for detecting enrollment errors lies with your agency, if you believe that you are in the wrong retirement system, you need to go to your local personnel office, sit down with a specialist, and go over your official personnel folder (OPF). If it turns out that you are in the wrong system, you’ll need help in determining which way to go. Your agency is responsible for helping you do that. Don’t let them off the hook.


 

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