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Letter to the Editor

Jul. 15, 2012 - 01:27PM   |  
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Phased retirement

Regarding “Phased retirement approved,” July 9 issue: They want to continue taking money out of your smaller paycheck, to put into the retirement fund for your continued work, and at the same time they will be taking money out of the fund to pay you your partial annuity. Is this sound fiscal policy?

Most feds approaching retirement are concerned about money. Have they saved enough? Will their reduced retirement income suffice for a good retirement? Will their bosses let them work overtime during the next months so they can build up their nest eggs?

How many of these feds are looking for a cut in their income before retirement? With phased retirement, a cut is what they will get, because no matter how you add a partial annuity to a partial paycheck, the sum will be less than working full time.

For years, the Office of Personnel Management has struggled to keep up with its annuity processing workload. New annuitants have been forced to wait months before getting their full annuities. By hiring dozens of new employees, at great cost to taxpayers, OPM has recently managed to stanch the burgeoning flow. But this is nothing to be proud of, because it is merely mindless throwing money at the problem.

So now when an employee opts for a phased annuity, there will be three calculations instead of one. The first will be the annuity, reduced because it is partial. Second will be the paycheck, again reduced because it is partial. And the third will be the full annuity when the employee retires. Three calculations instead of one is all OPM needs to help deal with its workload.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts phased retirement will save millions of dollars. Where do you think the millions are coming from? That’s right — from the employees who opt for phased retirement.

The promoters of this innovation would have you believe they are, somehow, preserving the valuable years of experience of the phased retiree. How about a 52-year-old with 24 years of experience who simply resigns, for one reason or another? How about his valuable corporate knowledge? Then there’s the 35-year-old who quits, so he can join his brother-in-law in a new startup business.

The point I’m trying to make is that when any competent, experienced employee leaves, for any reason, there is a brain drain. Phased retirement zeroes in on the older ones, that’s all.

I believe phased retirement is a really bad idea.

— Robert F. Benson, Columbus, Ohio

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