Part-Time Retirement Gaining Momentum?

H.R. 4363 proposes to allow Federal employees to “phase into retirement” by continuing their public service, working up to 20 hours per week while receiving a partial annuity. Phased retirees would come from the Feds’ pool of retirement-eligibles who have worked full-time for at least 3-years immediately prior to entering into phased retirement status. For these people, a phased retirement annuity would be added to their part-time pay in order to produce a 100% retirement payment.

Cost effective? The bill’s sponsor, Rep Darrell Issa, says this legislation couldsave taxpayers approximately $465 million dollars within 10 years, since agencies would not have to replace all retirees with part-time employees. “Employees often retire because their pensions are nearly as much as they would make continuing to work.”

I say “Really?!!” Most of the Feds I know who stay on in their jobs do so simply because they enjoy what they do and they want to keep working; and these people will do so, full-time, if that’s they’re only option.

According to the president of the National Associate of Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), “This legislation would provide personal flexibility for federal employees who wish to cut back on their hours but not fully retire … Instead of losing valued employees, agencies would be able to retain them part-time and benefit from their ability to mentor junior employees, including their replacements.”

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Stephen Lynch, also added an amendment that would allow federal retirees to roll unused annual vacation leave into their Thrift Savings Plans upon retirement. The House Committee supports inclusion of this amendment in the bill.

Is this a good thing? I’ve not yet formed an opinion. But the House panel has unanimously voted to advance this legislation. Too bad we can “Beta-Test” these experiments before they’re enacted!

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Andy Lowenthal

Great info, Doris! Thanks for keeping your eye out for legislation that could affect federal retirement.

The bill sounds compelling to me for one simple reason: flexibility. I think agencies and individuals should have the maximum flexibility when it comes to staffing. I don’t believe that age can be used as a determinant of performance, value-add, or wisdom. Each person is his/her own unique set of skills and expertise, or lack thereof. In other words, there are some people that agencies are probably desperate to hold on to in a part-time capacity and others whose exit paperwork should be processed expeditiously. These agencies should have the authority to do whatever makes sense. From the individual’s perspective, part-time employment as a transition period to full retirement (whether this takes months or years) could be the best way to slow down on the treadmill before getting off, rather than stopping short after a 40 year sprint. This should be seen, however, as a privilege and not a right.

I believe we have far too many archaic rules when it comes to federal retirement — all sorts of complex formulas and computations. We ought to simply the system — perhaps then HR offices and OPM would have an easier time processing retirement requests!