Catching up with TSP, and more

A Reader Writes:

I am a Federal Employees Retirement System worker over age 50 and am interested in whether the Thrift Savings Plan catch-up provision of $2,000 for 2003 was passed into law.

Milt Replies:

Yes it was. President Bush signed it into law on Nov. 27. Next, it's up to the executive director of the TSP to determine the earliest practical date for this legislation to take effect.

This legislation is an extension of a special provision of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) that allowed people age 50 and over to make larger contributions to workplace savings accounts (401k plans) and individual retirement accounts.

The legislation signed on Nov. 27 (turning H. R. 3340 into Public Law No. 107-304) makes those EGTRRA provisions also applicable to federal worker contributions to the TSP. It will allow employees over age 50 to contribute more to TSP. For 2003, the catch-up amount is $2,000, and it increases by $1,000 a year until it hits $5,000 in 2006.

A Reader Writes:

What ever happened to H.R. 1586, The FERS Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Buyback Act of 2001?

I think the legislation would have allowed excepted service employees of FDIC (like myself, during the savings and loan crisis as a Liquidation Grade person) to buy their time in service for retirement purposes if they continued in government service as regular full-time career types.

Milt Replies:

This legislation has not progressed. H.R.1586, sponsored by Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), was introduced April 25, 2001. On April 30, 2001, it was referred to the House Government Reform Committee's Civil Service and Agency Organization Subcommittee, where it remains.

The legislation would make certain temporary federal service performed for the FDIC creditable for retirement purposes.

A Reader Writes:

Are federal agencies required to install visual alarms for employees who cannot hear audible alarms? I know the pagers are not UL approved nor are recommended by the Access Board. The Access Board requires visual signals throughout the building. However, my agency has a few strobe lights located in some of the halls, but few lights in offices or meeting rooms. Employees who cannot hear the alarm have been too often left in the building. This is becoming a major concern with the current situation.

Milt Replies:

It is every employer's responsibility to provide a safe place for all employees to work. In an emergency, staff members should be prepared to warn workers who are blind, deaf, or both deaf and blind for whom visual or audible warnings would be ineffective. An evacuation plan should be developed and instituted for such emergencies.

For further information, you can go to the Justice Department's Americans with Disabilities Act home page,, or contact the ADA Information Line at (800) 949-4232.

Zall is a retired federal employee who since 1987 has written the Bureaucratus column for Federal Computer Week. He can be reached at


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