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What's New: Pension Hikes, Tepid TSP and More

Recent news on the federal retirement front.

Things have been pretty busy lately on the retirement front. Here are links to some important recent news  headlines, in case you missed them.

When it comes to pensions, what's "fully funded"?

The Obama administration and lawmakers from both parties generally favor increasing the amount government workers contribute to their pensions. But federal employee unions say that's unfair and unnecessary, because “federal employee retirement is fully funded.”

Retirement backlog is down 39 percent since January

OPM received 8,138 new claims last month -- 3,814 less than it received in September -- and managed to complete 12,228 applications. The backlog now stands at 37,086 retirement claims, down from 61,108 claims in January.

Lawmakers get lavish pensions

One in six federal lawmakers currently receive at least $100,000 annually in retirement.

Thrift Savings Plan funds have a tepid October

Three of the basic funds posted barely perceptible gains and two ended the month in the red.

Employees can contribute more to TSP in 2013

The dollar limit on TSP investments will rise to $17,500 a year from $17,000 allowed this year, marking the second straight year of a $500 increase.

More than 50,000 choose new Roth TSP option

The Roth option, unveiled in May, allows beneficiaries to invest money that already has been taxed and cannot be taxed again upon withdrawal, unlike traditional TSP investments.

TSP advisory panel considers mutual funds

The TSP has had the authority of setting up mutual fund options since 2009, but  its Employee Thrift Advisory Council, which represents several large federal unions and meets with the board at least once a year, is leery of giving participants too many options.

Report recommends overhauling military retirement, health benefits

The Center for American Progress praised Pentagon proposals to raise TRICARE enrollment fees for military retirees to keep pace with increases in health care costs, create a 401(k)-based retirement system to replace the current vesting system, and increase the age at which service members can receive their pensions.

Army encourages early retirement for some soldiers

As the service seeks to reduce its active-duty force by 80,000 service members over the next four years, certain soldiers with at least 15 but less than 20 years of service will be eligible for the early out, which would provide them with full retirement benefits at a slightly reduced annuity.

Federal retirees will get 1.7 percent COLA next year

Inflation stayed relatively low over 2012, resulting in a 2013 cost-of-living allowance that is much less than this year’s 3.6 percent bump.

Open Season Guide

Don't forget our annual guide to all of your Federal Employees Health Benefits Program information. 

Also, if you’re home on Monday morning enjoying the Veteran’s Day holiday and contemplating the 2012 open season, you may be interested to know that the guest on NITP's "For Your Benefit" radio program will be Walt Francis, independent consultant and principal author of CHECKBOOK’s Guide To Health Plans For Federal Employees.  Walt will be discussing the best buys for federal employees and retirees for this year’s open season. The show will air live at 10 a.m. on AM 1500 in the Washington metro area or on FederalNewsRadio.com