The House unanimously passed last week legislation that would make sure federal firefighters, law enforcement officers, and other federal first responders qualify for full retirement benefits if they are injured on the job and return to the federal workforce. The legislation was introduced by Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Jim Langevin (D-RI).
Under current law, federal first responders are included in an accelerated retirement system for these positions with a mandatory retirement age of 57. Under this program which was established by Congress, federal first responders are entitled to an annuity after serving for 20 years and reaching age 50. They pay a greater percentage of their salary into their retirement system, and their annuity amount is calculated at a higher rate than other federal employees who make their payments over the course of 30 years.
According to a press statement from Connolly’s office, the First Responder Fair RETIRE Act “addresses inequities facing federal first responders who may become injured on the job and are then unable to continue their service before full retirement.” The Fair RETIRE Act allows federal first responders to stay in the same retirement system if they are placed in another civil service position outside of the current after returning to work from a duty related injury.
If passed, the bill would also allow these employees to receive a refund of their accelerated contributions should they be separated from service before they are entitled to an annuity.
“We want to incentivize our first responders to continue their service to this nation,” said Connolly. “We should not punish them for injuries they sustained protecting communities us. And we should reward their actions with continued inclusion in the retirement system they signed up for at the start of their service.”
The First Responder Fair RETIRE Act is supported by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Federation of Federal Employees, the International Association of Firefighters, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Treasury Employees Union, and the Senior Executives Association.
The full text of the legislation is available here.
Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT).