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Lawmaker Looks to End Early Retirement for Federal Employees

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A House lawmaker has urged the joint committee on deficit reduction to put an end to early federal retirements in order to save money.

“There are many thousands of federal employees who are retiring in their 50s and even in their late 40s,” said Rep. John Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) in a letter last week to members of the congressional supercommittee. “As much as American lifespans have increased, we simply cannot afford to allow people to draw federal pensions at such young ages.”

Duncan’s proposal means newly hired federal workers, including members of Congress and congressional employees, would not receive pensions until age 62. This idea has been previously proposed in a July speech on the House floor.

Retirement eligibility for federal employees varies based on the retirement system in place, age of employee, length of service and minimum retirement age.

Under the Federal Employees Retirement System, federal employees are eligible for an immediate, full pension at age 62 or older with at least five years of service; at age 60 with 20 years of service.

Lawmakers are eligible for an immediate, full pension at age 62 or older if they have completed at least five years of service, or at age 50 and older if they’ve served 20 years, or at any age after completing 25 years of federal service.

Under the Civil Service Retirement System, members of Congress are eligible for an immediate, full pension at age 60 or older, after a decade of service, or age 62 after five years of federal service.

A 2008 Office of Personnel Management analysis of federal retirement found the median number of years an employee stays with the government after becoming eligible to retire is four years. Some agencies are offering buyouts and early retirement packages to federal employees as a money saving measure with the uncertainty of the budget.

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