Kilmer introduces bill to help shipyard workers retire on time

Bill ensures federal employees who started as temporary workers have the chance to retire on time

U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer, D-WA., and Tom Cole, R-OK., introduced the Federal Retirement Fairness Act, a bill that ensures federal employees who started their careers as temporary workers are granted the opportunity to make catch-up retirement contributions so that they can retire on time, according to a press release.

“Without this option, workers are faced with an unfair choice: leaving the federal service without full retirement benefits or work longer than expected to obtain full retirement benefits,” the release reads.

Prior to 1989, the Office of Personnel Management allowed federal employees to make catch-up payments to buy back years during which they did not contribute to their retirement accounts. This authority was phased out when the government switched to a new federal employee retirement system.

“Many federal employees begin their careers in temporary positions before transitioning to permanent status — so we need to have their back,” Kilmer said.

“This bill will ensure that all federal workers, from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and beyond, have the opportunity to retire at the same time, regardless of how they started their careers.”

“I am proud to join in introducing the Federal Retirement Fairness Act that allows federal workers, first hired under temporary status, to receive retirement credit for the entirety of their government service,” Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, said.

“The existing policy provides no benefit to federal employees or the federal government, but the buy-back option gives workers additional credit toward retirement, which is an option they currently do not have available.”

Today, workers at PSNS and at federal facilities across the country who started as temporary employees and then converted to full-time employment are now finding that they may have to work years longer than their peers to receive the same retirement benefits, the press release stated. The Federal Retirement Fairness Act would restore the authority that allows employees hired since 1989 to buy back the time they served as temporary federal employees under the same terms that were in place prior to 1989.

“It is important that all federal employees have the freedom of choice to retire on time after their years of service if they made the necessary contributions to do so,” the press release states. “This bill ensures that all employees, regardless of their initial hiring status, are granted the same opportunity for the same amount of work.”