The fix would help 1,352 Customs and Border Protection officers.

The fix would help 1,352 Customs and Border Protection officers. Glenn Fawcett / CBP

A Bill to Fix a Customs and Border Protection Retirement Snafu Is Revived in the Senate

More than 1,000 Customs and Border Protection officers were mistakenly promised enhanced retirement benefits, only to have them taken away once the agency realized its error.

A bipartisan pair of senators on Thursday reintroduced a proposal to correct an error where more than 1,000 Customs and Border Protection officers were denied retirement benefits that they had mistakenly been promised.

In 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection implemented a law making CBP officers eligible for enhanced retirement benefits to make up for the fact that they are required to retire at age 57, provided that they have 20 years of service and make larger retirement contributions. The law set up a transitional system for those hired before July 6, 2008, which provides the enhanced retirement annuity rate despite the fact that they would not have reached 20 years of service before their mandatory retirement date.

But the agency mistakenly told officers who were given job offers before July 6, 2008 but did not start work until after that date that they would also be eligible for the enhanced benefits. In 2020, CBP realized its error and reversed course, requiring them to serve 20 years to become eligible for the enhanced retirement annuity, despite the fact that those employees had already been making higher retirement contributions for more than a decade.

Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., on Thursday reintroduced the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Retirement Corrections Act, which seeks to make good on the original promise to at least 1,352 CBP officers impacted by the agency’s mistake. The bill was previously introduced last March, but did not make it out of the Senate before the legislative session ended in December.

The legislation would require CBP to identify individuals impacted by the mix-up, grant them the retirement benefits they were initially promised, and notify them of the change. It also would retroactively adjust the annuities of eligible people who retired prior to the bill’s enactment, and it would give the Homeland Security Department the authority to waive the requirement that the impacted officers work for 20 years to gain access to the higher annuity payments.

“The federal government should not let a clerical error disrupt the retirement plans of dedicated Customs and Border Protection officers,” Peters said in a statement. “This bipartisan bill will ensure these hardworking officers—who work each and every day to keep our communities safe—receive the benefits they have earned.”

“Customs and Border Protection officers defend our nation’s borders every day, and they deserve a secure financial future," Hawley said. "This bill guarantees that officers receive the retirement benefits they were promised."