Pension correction bill reintroduced in House

Pension correction bill reintroduced in House

Thousands of federal employees who face smaller pensions when they retire because the government placed them in the wrong retirement systems would get relief, under a bill introduced in the House last week.

The Federal Retirement Coverage Corrections Act (H.R. 416) would help up to 20,000 employees, some of whom may not yet know they are in the wrong retirement system. Others have been seeking a fix to the problem from the Office of Personnel Management and Congress for years.

"Employees who have been caught in this retirement nightmare should not be made to pay the price for correcting the government's errors. This bill will finally bring equity to thousands of innocent victims of bureaucratic mistakes," said Rep. Joe Scarborough, R-Fla., the new chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on the Civil Service.

Under the bill, agencies would be responsible for incurring all the costs of adjusting affected employees' pension benefits, Social Security benefits and Thrift Savings Plan contributions so that those placed in the wrong retirement system receive the full retirement benefits they believe they are entitled to.

The bill is identical to legislation that passed the House last year, but languished in the Senate. OPM opposes the House bill and has drafted its own version. OPM's bill is less complicated and costly, OPM official William Flynn said. Several employees affected by the change, however, said the OPM version does not satisfy them.

Barry Schrum, an Energy Department employee who learned he was in the wrong retirement system in 1996, said he is losing faith that Congress and OPM will actually fix the problem.

"I believe that Congress and OPM feel that we are not important enough for them to do the right thing and settle this issue," Schrum said. "At this point, I absolutely believe that OPM could care less about resolving this issue and making us whole. OPM is not our advocate and never has been concerning this issue. . . . For four years and especially the last year, Congress has allowed itself to be sidetracked for issues which do not affect people as much as one like this does."