Phased retirements — Good idea?

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You may soon have an additional option to consider as you approach retirement age: retiring part-time and working part-time at your current federal job.

Retirement Sign Courtesy Goodyear, Ariz.

The Senate approved an amendment that would authorize the use of phased retirements for retirement-eligible feds. Under a phased retirement, a fed can work part-time — say, one, two, three or four days a week — and collect a partial retirement annuity for the time he or she is not working. And, throughout that time, the fed continues to earn partial retirement benefits.

These proposed phased retirements, which President Obama proposed in his 2013 budget request, could be available to as many as a half-million feds who are eligible to retire. The  Obama administration  estimates it could save $750 million over a decade. The CBO estimates a more conservative $465 million in savings over that time.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Would you favor this option for yourself when you become retirement eligible (or if you already are)? Will this be a good thing for the government to do?

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17 Comments

  1. James Feynman on

    Persons that opt for this scheme would be putting money into the retirement fund in the form of deductions from salary, and at the same time they would be taking money out, in the form of a partial annuity. This is just plain paradoxical, and unsound pension policy.

    I’ll bet no actuaries were harmed in the formulation of this “plan.” In fact, I’ll bet no actuaries were involved at all, other than to leave the room, saying “this is nonsense.”

    If they go through with this they will be adding a multi-faceted complication to a workload that is already seven months, or so, behind, and getting worse all the time. Help!

    Mr Berry was right. This really is a “no brainer.” No brains were used in this policy proposal.

  2. I am retired and wish that they had of had this options for me. Making up the loss of experience can devastate a company once it’s gone. Bringing them back as consultants cost too much money and resentment. I think it helps with the transition. Often the the new employee and experienced employee feel undervalued so they both feel the need to try to one up the other and that’s always trouble for the organization.

  3. Michelle Brown on

    In theory this sounds like a good solid plan as long as the finer points are worked out. A good number of people retire from a full time federal career and get a part time job anyway. The experience of the part time retired employee can be a valuable asset in transitioning another full time employee into that position. Work sharing may also alleviate the need for employing and training temporary help.

  4. Not a good idea for me. When I retire, I want to do other things than work at the office from which I retired. If phased retirement is an option (one that I would not select) that may be fine for the people who want to work in retirement years, but how exactly does it save money? Retirement benefits are paid and the retiree/employee will get paid for the hours they work. It seems like another way to confuse federal workers and further burden the already over burdened OPM tyring to process retirees. Bottom line, the GOV needs to generate revenue, make selective fatty cuts where needed, and quit tryring to make federal workers pay for the mistakes of corporate America, Congress and the previous and current White House administrations. Stop with the schemes that end up costing more than saving (like BRAC 2005). How can you promise people benefits if they put in the work and then when time for them to receive the benefits you change it to much less than what was promised? How much different is that than what Bernie Madoff did?

  5. Why not copy the practice of the Air Force Research Laboratory which already has a provision (since 1997) to allow retired personnel to work under an emeritus status. They are not paid at all (save for their pensions) and it is entirely voluntary. Since there is no additional financial incentive, only those who are truly dedicated to the mission and have a passion for mentoring ever bother to apply.

    I have been mentored over the years by several nationally recognized experts in their field who returned to volunteer under the emeritus program.

  6. Why not use an adapted PSE work plan? On a voluntary basis, those full timers desisring to retire (at mandatory age 62) could opt to work an abrivated work schedule, maybe two,three or four (six) hr days at an established agreeable pay rate between the USPS and the Unions. there would be NO benefits to go along with this plan other than tax free wages. Set the age limits at 70yrs. then your out for good regardless. You could operate this plan for quite a while. Do away with the PSE plan as we know it only revive it if and when the USPS runs out of retirees.

  7. This is basically the Overseers in Congress trying to use the slaves to help Congress to look good, well, it will not, I want out like many others, why would I want to be required to help those I hate, vehemently hate, we signed in almost 30 years ago, you cannot change the contract, part time retirement is changing the contract, what if your Home Mortgage bank rewrote your contract unilaterally,
    it would be a unilateral action, and illegal, this country is going down the drain, why would anyone support this ? unless they get a cut out of it , somehow someway, kickbacks, this is sickening, the USPS or any agency can now force you to stay, how about a flood of disability cases ?

  8. phased retirements were not in the contract, and if the APWU tries to negotiate this somehow, they will have a flood of dropouts, the USPS is ending, to some extent, ans so is the USA, China west we will be.

  9. It sounds like a good idea but I don`t this would work to well for Postal employees! Any craft worker would know why! “manditory OT” Big problem!

  10. If this is only saving the Government about $750 million when it affect as many as a half-million feds how is it to save the USPS billions of dollars

  11. Why not hire back the retirees paart time and allow them to draw retuirement plus pay them for working part time.

  12. Sounds like another method the current administrtation is trying to “create” NEW $$ by taking more $$$ away from the non-executive branch government workers. I have not seen him have his pay, retirement, or his families travel, etc. budget cut, have you? We need a leader whose number one goal is to return American back to Americans. Not try and find ways to further personal agendas at the expense of those who serve our country.

    Forest Gumps mom was right; “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  13. I do not like this phased retirement plan. Stop taking money out of my pocket. The average salary of congressional and law makers is 160K per year. I make less than half of that. I cannot beleive–no wait I can, it is always the better off taking away from us, the dedicated largest group of employees in this nation–the middle class

  14. I would really have to know more about this. I’m eligible to retire this year. So under this plan, do I get access to my TSP (e.g. in the form of a life expectancy withdrawal), or am I barred from that because I’m only semi-retired? Do I get part of my social security supplement, or am I barred from that because I am only semi-retired? These are issues that, quite frankly, would make or break the attractiveness of this plan for me.

    Lets say I was making $70,000. Working 3 days part time would give me $42,000 salary, plus, I’m guessing, about $8400 for my “partial retirement” (taking my full retirement and taking about 40% of it), for a total of about $50,400 (give or take). Again, not sure about the TSP or supplement.

    I would be making about half of that for my “full” retirement plus the social security supplement (another $10,000-ish) plus the life expectancy withdrawal would be another $10,000-ish, for a total of about the same $42,000-ish.

    Maybe my calculations are off (has been known to happen), so someone else please do some and let me know what you come up with.

    But it I would be making mostly the same money working part time as I would retired, I’ll take retired. Then the part time job I would get at, e.g. Home Depot is really extra money.

  15. Cliff Claven on

    I am an actuary. This is a very sound plan that would enable the federal government to lessen the effect of the large number of retirements. It would also allow agencies to have part time mentors for younger employees. Personally, it is not a plan for me, for I will leave the Washington DC area next year, where I’ve been employed. But for older feds retiring near their present job, this can become an efffective option, for both the government agency and the employee.

  16. norm from ga on

    If one cannot afford to retire, or really wants to continue working, then s/he should keep working full time. This part-time fiasco really doesn’t seem to offer much to the employee, IMO.

    It does seem to offer much to the govt, though, especially in this time of potential change in the retirement system. Besides not having to hire the pensioner back as a contractor, the employee will probably have to contribute more to his pension next year (if he is FERS), while hiring his replacement can be delayed until the new hire may not be offered a fixed pension at all.

    I plan to leave at the end of this year, and, hopefully, not look back.

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