Fedweek

Under Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., several bills related to federal retiree benefits should get active consideration

Legislation has been reintroduced in the House (HR-1255) to increase COLA benefits under the FERS system to match those under the CSRS system.

Under FERS, retirees are not eligible for COLAs until age 62 unless disabled or retired under a mandatory retirement provision, and COLAs that are payable are limited. The adjustments are reduced if the amount is above 2 percent—a flat 2 percent if the amount is between 2 and 3 percent, and one percentage point less, if above 3 percent. Those restrictions do not apply under CSRS.

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The main sponsor is Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., who also has reintroduced two measures related to the special retirement provisions for federal law enforcement officers and firefighters; that system requires that they pay higher retirement contributions but in return they may retire earlier with full benefits and those benefits are enhanced.

One (HR-1256) would allow them to stay in that system if they become disabled for that type of work and are placed in another civil service position outside of that system after returning to work from a duty related injury. The bill also allows those employees to receive a refund of their accelerated contributions should they be separated from service before they are entitled to an annuity. The other (HR-1255), applying only to firefighters, would include the value of mandatory overtime in their retirement calculations.

The support of Connolly—now chair of the House subcommittee overseeing the federal workforce—virtually assures that the measures, which previously did not advance under Republican control of the House, will get active consideration.