This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Reston Town Center that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters. They write biweekly on RestonNow.
On Aug. 8, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released its final regulations implementing a new phased retirement program that allows full-time federal employees to work part time and collect retirement benefits while employed. This article summarizes some of the key points about the new program.
The phased retirement program is notable because of its new part-time retirement/part-time employment option for federal employees. OPM has indicated that federal agencies can begin processing applications for this phased retirement program when the new rule becomes effective on Nov. 6, 2014. Not surprisingly, many federal employees have been interested in the program since Congress approved this new retirement option in 2012.
The new OPM rules were the result of an Act of Congress two years ago that permits federal employees to work part time (50 percent schedule) while they draw a portion of their retirement annuity (50 percent of their annuity) once they meet the eligibility requirements for retirement. Federal employees who elect the program will be required to spend at least 20 percent of their time in a mentoring status. Essentially, the objective is for federal employees to help train their replacements as they phase out of the federal workforce.
Those who are eligible for the program include federal employees in both the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) programs. CSRS employees will become eligible for the new program once they reach 1) 55 years of age and 30 years of service or 2) 60 years of age and 20 years of service. FERS employees are eligible for the program once they reach 1) 30 years of service and their minimum retirement age (MRA) or 2) 20 years of service and 60 years of age.
OPM states in the new rule that the program “is not a one-size-fits-all program,” but that both an agency and an employee must agree that the phased retirement option is a good fit for both. OPM has indicated that the various federal agencies will have the flexibility to work out many other details, including the length of the phased retirement and the number of employees who will be eligible. The phased retirement program was enacted with the general goal of preserving institutional knowledge within the federal agencies while simultaneously saving the federal government money.
For a full synopsis of OPM’s new phased retirement program, the final rule (79 FR 46607) can be viewed here. The new OPM retirement rules can be very complex. We recommend that federal employees obtain legal representation and advice when considering this new phased retirement program, especially during the early stages of the program.
Our law firm represents and advises federal employees and retirees in all federal retirement matters. If you need legal advice or representation regarding the new phased retirement program or any other federal retirement matter, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.