Ask The Lawyer

By Debra Roth

Q & A Session – FERS Annuity Supplement Question

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Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.

Q:

Regarding the bill that passed the House that eliminates completely the social security supplement from the FERS retirement for retirements after 1/1/2013: Is this really legal – eliminating a benefit already earned in theory for 21 years of my career?   I can see the point going forward in eliminating it, but I already have 21 years of federal service and it seems to me that was part of the overall package from the day I started until/unless it actually passes both houses of congress and is signed by the President.   I am hoping for a veto, but I have heard very little out of Obama and the Democrats in the Senate about the benefits/pay hits for federal employees so I see a good possibility this passes in some form.
It just seems as though a benefit has been earned.

A:

Congress has broad authority to change and enact laws. Most proposals to eliminate the FERS annuity supplement do not apply to those federal employees under mandatory retirement requirements. Also, the House bill you reference does have a one year period before the elimination goes into effect. The bill is currently in a house-Senate conference committee and it is unclear if this proposal will be in the final version of the legislation or if it will pass Congress.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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Comments

  1. gerald salzman Says:
    January 27th, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Once again Bill you ignore the question. Not everyone is in mandatory retirement or will have (if any) 30 years service in by 12/31/2012. Like the questioner above I have 27 years in. Can Congress legally wipe away those 27 years. A yes or no answer would be appreciated, and I am not under mandatory retirement.

  2. Gregg Says:
    January 31st, 2012 at 4:36 am

    This is huge – I’m wondering why their haven’t been more people upset – it will affect over a million retirees (if passed) – which will decrease their retirement benefit by thousands of dollars every year! Oh wait no one notices because it’s buried on page 355 of a 370 page bill (HR3630) – titled “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011″ Typical government politics… Everyone should be exposing this for what it really is… Taking away a Big Piece of the FERS retirement

  3. Allan G. Lewis Says:
    February 5th, 2012 at 6:48 am

    I am eligible to retire (32 years combined service). 28 years with the USPS I have seen many military retirees. Why is it that a DOD retiree can work for the P.O., yet not the reverse unless it is for a contract position. My name has been referred to a position to the AFEES at Elmendorf in Anchorage (no decision yet). I see this as a bit biased. Thanks

  4. Ron Hankey Says:
    February 5th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    So congress could eliminate pensions PERIOD? The answer does not address the possible contractual implications of such a draconian action and ignores what seems to me to be the crux of the question – whether the implied earned benefit that’s been on the books and been part of thousands of workers financial plans for a quarter of a century – can be eliminated ex post facto.

  5. Nancy Stallard Says:
    February 6th, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    I had the same question in regards to taking away a benefit I have been paying for for almost 29 years. I am almost eligible to retire at my MRA with 30 years in 9/2013 but if this bill passes as written I would not get the annuity I paid for. It isn’t a mandatory retirement, I could still work for 6 more years if my body could hold out, but it can’t. I still get screwed even though it is one year out. Do I still lose the money I put in?

  6. Steve Yount Says:
    February 24th, 2012 at 8:25 am

    How would the next law affect someone who retires early in 2012 at age 51 but is not eligible to receive the supplement until MRA of age 56? Would you still receive the supplement?

  7. bjean Says:
    April 7th, 2012 at 9:24 am

    everyone better wake and smell the manure coming out of washington. This FERS supplement ellimination was written into the presidents budget proposal also. I have complained to republican senator in arkansas twice and his last response was basically sorry but they have to do something and this is not money to support the retirement system, of course lawmakers fers retirement in three times the amount a typical federal employee receives!!!!!! Both parties are corrupt and working for corporations and lobbyists only!

  8. TheRealFed Says:
    January 13th, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Even when I informed everyone about this at work I would get a blank stare or a look of annoyance(annoyed by me personally,not the crucial matter at hand).This is the worst thing possible for a FERS-covered employee.I suggest getting #%^@&*!! mad and doing something about this.

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