A new law, the First Responder Fair RETIRE Act (H.R. 521), has been passed to protect injured special provisions employees. Federal firefighters, Law Enforcement Officers, Border Patrol Agents, and many more now have the security they deserve while working in these dangerous positions.
In many cases special provisions employees who are injured on the job have a difficult time getting back into their position due to their injury. This can cause them to take a reassignment outside of the special provisions classification or leave federal service all together. This means that they would lose out on the increased retirement benefits of special provisions. This act fixes this issue and provides these employees with the latitude they need to get back into service without losing their benefits.
What is H.R. 521?
The ‘‘First Responder Fair Return for Employees on Their Initial Retirement Earned Act’’ or the ‘‘First Responder Fair RETIRE Act’’ (H.R. 521) was passed unanimously in the senate mid-November 2022, changing the lives of many special provisions employees.
This new law allows injured special provisions employees in covered positions to maintain their special provisions retirement benefits if they are reassigned to a position outside of the special provisions system. This reassignment to a new, non-covered position allows those employees to continue to receive and contribute to their special provisions retirement. The reassigned position must be within their commuting area and at the same pay level as their special provisions position.
This law also applies if you are reemployed in the federal government at a later date.
In order to qualify for this act, you must be in a covered position, become ill or injured while on duty as a direct result of your job duties, and be permanently unable to perform useful and efficient service in your covered position.
What does this mean for federal employees?
The new RETIRE Act ensures that injured special provisions employees can now maintain their retirement benefits and receive the higher retirement calculation they have worked for. It’s a win for special provisions workers who work in high risk positions every day.
Until now, if a special provisions employee became disabled on the job, they were no longer able to contribute to their special provisions retirement or retire at an earlier age. This resulted in them not receiving the higher special provisions retirement calculation. This law will finally provide these employees with the job security that these critical positions so desperately need.
The RETIRE act also allows them to receive a refund of their previous special retirement contributions if they leave federal service before qualifying for their annuity.
If your special provisions position is not covered under this law, you will need to meet the normal age and service requirements of a special provisions position to retire.
Is Federal Disability Retirement an option?
Federal Disability Retirement is the only other option for disabled federal employees that allows them to maintain their benefits if they cannot continue working in their federal position.
Prior to this act, the government was unable to accommodate or reassign special provisions employees while maintaining their benefits, so Federal Disability Retirement was often their only choice. Federal Disability Retirement allows special provisions employees to still receive their higher retirement calculation even without returning to work in the federal government.
While on Federal Disability Retirement, you can receive a secure monthly annuity, creditable years of service, health and life insurance, and the ability to work in the private sector.
Special provisions positions have a mandatory retirement age of 56 or 57 and a retirement calculation of 1.7% of your high 3 average for the first 20 years of special provisions service. The creditable years of service you accrue on Federal Disability Retirement will still count towards your 20 years of special provisions service. At age 62, your Federal Disability Retirement will automatically recalculate into your regular retirement calculation, even if you had an earlier mandatory retirement age.
Federal Disability Retirement is a great option for those employees who are not covered by special provisions or who cannot be reassigned into a new position.
If you are a disabled federal employee looking into your options, contact us today to see if you qualify for Federal Disability Retirement! We have helped 8,000+ federal employees secure their benefits– let us provide you with the security you and your family deserve.