Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.
Regarding the bill that passed the House that eliminates completely the social security supplement from the FERS retirement for retirements after 1/1/2013: Is this really legal – eliminating a benefit already earned in theory for 21 years of my career? I can see the point going forward in eliminating it, but I already have 21 years of federal service and it seems to me that was part of the overall package from the day I started until/unless it actually passes both houses of congress and is signed by the President. I am hoping for a veto, but I have heard very little out of Obama and the Democrats in the Senate about the benefits/pay hits for federal employees so I see a good possibility this passes in some form.
It just seems as though a benefit has been earned.
Congress has broad authority to change and enact laws. Most proposals to eliminate the FERS annuity supplement do not apply to those federal employees under mandatory retirement requirements. Also, the House bill you reference does have a one year period before the elimination goes into effect. The bill is currently in a house-Senate conference committee and it is unclear if this proposal will be in the final version of the legislation or if it will pass Congress.
Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.
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