Connolly Bill Aims to Improve Federal Retiree COLAs

A new bill from Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) aims to bring more parity to federal retirement, ensuring no differences between the current Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) governing some federal employees who retired in previous years, prior to FERS’ creation in 1986 and subsequent implementation.

Currently, as a result of the existence of two separate systems, FERS employees “can end up receiving a lower cost-of-living adjustment than retirees under the older Civil Service Retirement System,” according to Federal TimesJessie Bur.

In 2019, for example, retirees under the CSRS will receive a COLA of 2.8 percent, while FERS employees will only see an increase of 2 percent. But the Connolly bill would change Title 5, the section of the U.S. Code governing the federal retirement system, to ensure such discrepancies no longer occur.

“Over time, we now realize that this two-tiered system fails to protect FERS retirees who are living on a fixed income,” Connolly said of his bill, the Equal COLA Act. “This legislation will rectify this unfair system and ensure these dedicated public servants are protected throughout their retirement.”

Ken Thomas, national president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, publicly praised the introduction of the bill, calling the proposal “a common sense policy that will allow FERS annuities to keep up with inflation.”

Connolly has reason to feel optimistic about his legislation’s prospects. With the recent takeover of the House of Representatives by Democrats during the midterm election, Connolly, who has served as the Vice Ranking Member on the influential House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is almost certain to see his role within the committee – and his legislative influence – increase in coming months. Prior to the shift of power within the chamber, Connolly has also served as Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Government Operations.

Shortly before the midterms, Connolly appeared on an episode of FEDtalk to discuss his current priorities on federal workforce issues for the coming months.

Posted in From the Hill

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