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Proposed bills aim to rehire government retirees

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Two bills introduced this week would help government agencies bring back and retain retirees.

The bills, introduced by Sens. Herb Kohl, Susan Collins and George Voinovich aim to help retirees who are seeking sufficient retirement income by extending their government employment. The bills will also help fill several positions in an effort to reinforce agency staff shortages. The Government Accountability Office has already expressed concern over the Social Security Administration’s ability to provide adequate service considering almost half of the SSA’s staff will retire by 2016.

Sen. Kohl is chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, which held a special hearing Wednesday to confront specific issues affecting boomer retirement today. One bill introduced would allow the federal government to rehire federal retirees part-time, without forcing the employee to reduce their salary by their pension amount, as under current law. While the individuals would receive both salary and annuity payments, they would not be considered employees for the purposes of retirement and would receive no additional retirement benefits based on their service.

The second bill would change the computation of Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuities involving part-time service by correcting an anomaly that creates a disincentive for employees nearing the end of their careers who would like to phase into retirement by working part-time. Specifically, the legislation would clarify that CSRS annuities, based in whole or in part on part-time service, should be pro-rated for the period of service that was performed on a part-time basis. The correction allows agencies, as part of their succession planning efforts, to retain the expertise of senior staff who wish to work on a part-time basis at the end of their federal careers.

“The state of our economy has millions of older Americans considering all their options,” Kohl said. “For a lot of them, the downturn will mean working longer.”