AFGE-backed bill granting full retirement benefits to first responders and law enforcement officers injured on the job to become law

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is applauding U.S. Senate passage of an AFGE-backed bill that would allow law enforcement personnel and first responders to keep their full retirement benefits if they’re injured on the job and return to the federal workforce in another capacity. The bill, which passed the House in July, now heads to President Biden for his signature.

“This law will bring much-needed benefits to federal first responders who protect and serve the American public,” said AFGE President Everett Kelley.

Because of the dangerous nature of their jobs, federal responders and law enforcement personnel such as customs and border protection officers, fire fighters, air traffic controllers, nuclear materials couriers, members of the Capitol Police, and others are required to retire at the age of 57. Employees in these jobs, known as “6c” occupations, are entitled to retire after serving for 20 years and reaching age 50.

Their accelerated retirement system also requires them to pay a higher percentage of their salary into their retirement than other federal workers making their payments over the course of 30 years. The 6c personnel’s annuity amount is therefore calculated at a higher rate

But if they get injured on the job and cannot complete their mandatory 20 years of service, the money they have paid into early retirement disappears even if they continue to serve in a non-6c position.

The First Responders Fair Return for Employees on Their Initial Retirement Earned (RETIRE) Act would address that inequity by allowing these law enforcement officers and first responders to receive retirement benefits in the same manner as if they had not been disabled.

The bill also allows these employees to receive a refund of their contributions if they’re separated from service before they’re entitled to their retirement benefits.

AFGE thanked House Subcommittee on Government Operations Chair Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jon Tester (D-Mont.) for introducing the bill in the House and Senate respectively. AGFE also thanked members of Congress who support first responders and law enforcement officers and the work they do.

“This is a long time coming,” said AFGE Firefighter Steering Committee Chair Kurt Rhodes. “Our first responders put their life on the line on a daily basis. In the past if they got injured and could not continue to perform the duties of a first responder, they were moved to jobs that did not qualify for our special retirement. They would lose all the extra retirement they paid into the program. With the passage of this bill, they keep the special retirement and finish out their career in another job.”


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