Ask The Lawyer

By Debra Roth

Q & A Session: Crime Conviction Effect on Retirement Pension

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Q:

If someone has retired from federal service and they are convicted of a crime, will they lose their pension? Do they have to inform the Office of Personnel Management of the fact that they were convicted of a crime.

A:

If you are no longer federally employed or maintaining a security clearance, you are generally not obligated to inform OPM of a post-retirement conviction. Being convicted of a crime almost never jeopardizes a federal pension – the rare exception to this rule for federal civil servants is the list of crimes codified at 5 U.S.C § 8312. Those charges almost all relate to criminal disloyalty to the United States: espionage, treason, sabotage, insurrection against the United States, improper sharing or intentional loss of certain highly classified documents, and so on. There are occasional efforts by some Members of Congress to expand the sorts of convictions which could cause a retiree to lose their federal pension, although none of those proposals have been passed to date.

As it could impact some readers, I would also like to note that members of the military who are convicted in a court martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice can lose their governmental pensions for a much wider array of crimes, including those which do not necessarily reflect crimes against the security of the United States

This response is written by Michael S. Causey, associate attorney of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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