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OPM plan: Older employees could work part-time, earn part-time annuity

Feb. 14, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments

The Office of Personnel Management wants to allow older federal employees to ease into their retirements on a part-time basis.

Under this plan which was proposed as part of the White House's fiscal 2013 budget released Monday employees nearing retirement would be able to continue working part-time, while receiving a partial annuity. They would also continue earning additional retirement benefits proportionally based on their part-time service.

The administration sees this as a way to improve succession planning and knowledge management while saving $720 million over the next decade. Agencies would save by not having to immediately replace employees phasing into retirement, and by delaying payment of full retirement benefits, the budget said. It could also reduce the government's need to temporarily rehire retirees to fill critical skills gaps. Those rehired annuitants are now paid both their full salaries and pensions.

"Many individuals who are nearing the end of their working lives do not want to completely stop working, although they no longer wish to do so on a full-time basis," the budget said. "This proposal will help encourage those individuals to continue working for the federal government and will enhance the attractiveness of late-career part-time employment, thereby facilitating continuity of operations and training of less experienced employees."

OPM said employees phasing into retirement would be required to spend part of their time mentoring younger employees.

OPM last proposed this change in 2010 as part of a hiring reform bill, which never gained traction in Congress.

However, adding yet another variation to federal retirements could throw one more wrinkle into OPM's already-complicated pension calculating process, and hurt its ability to eliminate a longstanding annuity backlog. OPM has pledged to fix its sluggish pension process, and the 2013 budget calls for increased staffing to do so.

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