Last week, the House unanimously passed legislation that is set to ensure that federal firefighters, law enforcement officers, and other federal first responders qualify for full retirement benefits under the circumstance that they are injured on the job and then return to the federal workforce. The legislation was first introduced by Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Jim Langevin (D-RI).
Currently, federal law has first responders included in an accelerated retirement system for these positions with a mandatory retirement age of 57. This program was created by Congress, and within it federal first responders are entitled to an annuity after serving for 20 years and reaching age 50. These employees pay a larger percentage of their salary into their retirement system, and their annuity amount is calculated at a greater rate than other federal employees who make their payments over the course of 30 years.
Representative Connolly’s office released a press statement, saying that the First Responder Fair RETIRE Act “addresses inequities facing federal first responders who may become injured on the job and are then unable to continue their service before full retirement.” The Fair RETIRE Act permits federal first responders to remain in the same retirement system if they are placed in another civil service position outside of their current one after returning to work from a duty related injury.
The new bill will also allow these employees to receive a refund of their accelerated contributions in the case that they are separated from service before being entitled to an annuity.
“We want to incentivize our first responders to continue their service to this nation,” said Connolly. “We should not punish them for injuries they sustained protecting communities us. And we should reward their actions with continued inclusion in the retirement system they signed up for at the start of their service.”
The bill has garnered support from multiple organizations. The First Responder Fair RETIRE Act is currently backed by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Federation of Federal Employees, the International Association of Firefighters, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Treasury Employees Union, and the Senior Executives Association.
The full text of the legislation is available here.
In order to learn more about changes in the federal workforce, or to receive TSP fund recommendations from our trained and licensed team, become a member at Federal Benefits Service today.