Welles: Summer winds of change

Social Security reform offers opportunity to change government pensions

The temperature on Capitol Hill is heating up with legislative proposals that could impact federal information technology employees and their retirement plans.

Most federal IT employees are between 46 and 55 years old, with 20 years of federal government experience, according to a CIO Council workforce survey. A

study by Input, a market research firm, states that the number of federal IT workers who are 50 or older will increase to 45 percent by fiscal 2008.

If you are counting on receiving Social Security benefits in addition to a government pension, you should consider the potential impact of two Social Security provisions called the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

A push to repeal or reform the provisions is gaining momentum as lawmakers debate Social Security. The House Ways and Means Committee's Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing this month on the provisions. Social Security legislation could change how government pensions offset and reduce Social Security benefits.

Social Security reform offers the best opportunity to change the government pension provisions that many view as unfair, said Dan Adcock, legislative director for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. "If change is going to happen, it needs to happen now to repeal or reform the unfair and arbitrary reduction of retirement benefits," he said.

Those provisions affect federal workers and retirees in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). About one-third of federal workers are covered by that system.

The GPO reduces a spousal Social Security benefit by two-thirds of the amount of a government pension. Under WEP, employees eligible for both Social Security and a pension under the CSRS will have a substantially lower Social Security benefit, as much as 50 percent.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley, in written testimony to the subcommittee, said the GPO provision has a particularly cruel impact on women retirees, many of whom are eligible for smaller federal pensions than their male counterparts because of interruptions in their careers while raising their families or because they worked in lower-paid positions.

Legislation that would repeal both the GPO and WEP has gathered 260 House co-sponsors. Similar Senate legislation has 18 co-sponsors.

Other legislation that lawmakers might act on this summer is the Civil Service Modernization Act of 2005, which would broadly apply the pay-for-performance changes at the Defense and Homeland Security departments.

Clay Johnson, the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director for management, said successful implementation of such reforms requires communication and good managers. n

Welles is a retired federal employee who has worked in the public and private sectors. She lives in Bethesda, Md., and writes about work life topics for Federal Computer Week. She can be reached at judywelles@fcw.com.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group