Pay and Benefits Watch: Part-timers' pension boost

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Some part-time employees would get a pension boost under a bill introduced in the House last week.

Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., introduced H.R. 4569 on May 25. The bill would change the pension formula for people who began working for the government before 1986 and have worked part-time for any period since then. Under a 1986 law, those employees are due smaller pensions than employees with similar amounts of service.

"The current practice is plainly contrary to the intent of the Congress, which was to grandfather existing employees into the new system and to ensure that no federal workers would be harmed by changes in the retirement formula," Moran said.

The bill would also allow people who have already retired to ask OPM to fix their pensions. A similar bill, S. 772, has also been introduced in the Senate.

Some of the affected employees have banded together to fight for a fix. Their Web site is at www.homestead.com/ptretirement/federal.html.

TSP for the Troops

The Congressional Budget Office earlier this month estimated that allowing military personnel to participate in the Thrift Savings Plan would cost the government $1.1 billion over the next 10 years. A provision allowing military TSP participation has been inserted into both the Senate and House versions of the 2001 Defense Authorization bill.

Last year Congress gave the Defense Department the authority to give military personnel the chance to contribute to the government's 401(k)-style investment program, but lawmakers did not provide any money to make it happen.

Pay Raise at 3.7 Percent

The 2001 Defense Authorization bill also calls for a 3.7 percent pay raise for military personnel in January 2001, mirroring President Clinton's budget request. Clinton is seeking a 3.7 percent raise for both military and civilian personnel.

According to the Federal Managers Association, Washington area lawmakers may angle for a 4.2 percent raise. The 2000 raise was 4.8 percent.

Quicker Survivor Benefits

The Office of Personnel Management is speeding up benefits payments for spouses of employees who die. In the past, OPM waited to receive a full application package before sending payments to surviving spouses.

Under new procedures, OPM will now work with agencies to get payments to survivors in days, rather than weeks, even before the full application package is submitted.

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