BigNews.Biz - Jan 06,2017 - Collins, Tester Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Injured First Responders’ Pensions
The Fair RETIRE Act will Support Firefighters, Law Enforcement Officers, and Border Patrol Agents
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced bipartisan legislation today to protect the pensions of hard-working first responders who have been injured on the job.
The Fair Return for Employees on Their Initial Retirement Earned (RETIRE) Act will help federal firefighters, law enforcement officers, Customs and Border Protection officials, and other federal employees with physically demanding jobs receive their full retirement benefits if they are injured on the job. Currently, federal employees who are injured in the line of service and return to work for the federal government lose the early retirement benefits they had earned before their injury.
“We count on federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other public safety employees when tragedy strikes,” said Senator Collins. “These brave men and women make tremendous sacrifices to protect our communities, and their strenuous and often dangerous occupation puts them at heightened risk of injury. Our legislation honors first responders’ sacrifices by ensuring that they do not lose the retirement they have earned should they be injured in the line of duty.”
"Firefighters and law enforcement officers sacrifice every day to keep folks safe, and they shouldn't be financially punished if they are hurt on the job," Senator Tester said. "This bill is about fairness, and it ensures that the folks who help keep our communities safe are able to access the full amount of their pensions that they have been paying into for years."
Federal employees with physically demanding jobs, known as "6c" occupations, have a mandatory retirement age, and they pay an additional portion of each paycheck towards their retirement. If 6c employees, such as firefighters and law enforcement officers, are injured on the job and unable to return to work before they fulfill their mandatory 20-25 years of service, they lose all of the benefits they have paid into the early retirement system even if they return to work for the federal government as a non-6c designated employee.
The Senators’ bipartisan bill will help these injured employees by allowing them to continue to pay into their 6c retirement accounts even if they don't return to work in a 6c-designated occupation. Additionally, the Fair RETIRE Act will allow those public servants who were hurt while performing a 6c-designated occupation to retire after 20-25 years of federal service and be eligible for a lump sum payment of the benefits owed to them from their 6c retirement funds.
The Fair RETIRE Act is supported by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), and the NFFE's Forest Service Council.
"Law enforcement officers and other federal public safety employees who suffer a disabling injury in the line of duty should not be penalized by the very retirement system that ought to be honoring their sacrifice and service," wrote Nathan Catura, National President of the Federal Law Enforcement