A one-shot $250 check for retired feds?

Tuesday - 10/26/2010, 4:29pm EDT

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October 27, 2010 -- Instead of a cost of living adjustment for retirees in 2011, Congress and the White House are likely to push through a proposal that gives social security recipients and veterans a one-shot $250 check instead. But what about retired federal employees?

"Unfortuantely, the proposal would not include the federal, state and local retirees who are not eligible for social security," said Dan Adcock, legislative director for National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

Adcock and David Snell, director of retirement benefits for NARFE, joined Mike Causey on Your Turn.

Last year, with no COLA either, social security recipients received a $250 check and retired feds who were not eligible for the check received a $250 tax credit.

The difference this year is that it is an election year, Adcock said. With anti-fed sentiment high, a check or tax credit are not guaranteed.

"It could play out the same way, but at this point it's too early to know," Adcock said. "First, we have to persuade lawmakers to include this particular group again."

Triple Whammy
With some exceptions, when there is no COLA, retirees enrolled in Medicare Part B are protected from any premium increase. This protection covers about 75 percent of Medicare beneficiaries, Snell said.

However, the feds who are ineligible for the $250 check are also ineligible for this protection against Medicare premium increases, Snell said.

Retired federal employees, therefore, are hit with a "double whammy" of not receiving a COLA and facing Medicare premium increases.

"Actually, it's a triple whammy," Snell said.

Retired feds also face an increase in health benefits premiums, he said.

Pay freeze and furlough?
A 1.4 pay increase for feds had seemed like a done deal, but Adcock said the post-election mood may "embolden" some lawmakers to deny any pay increase.

"We've been able to beat back that attempt, but our margins of victories have not been overwhelming," Adcock said.

In Congress this year, there have been four attempts to push through federal pay freeze legislation, Adcock said.

Amidst the talk of a freeze is speculation over furloughs for federal employees, including one proposal for 10 days of unpaid furlough.

"These kinds of proposals really have more to do with politics than they have to do with good resource management," Adcock said.

He added that these proposals "ignore the fact that the way federal employees should be viewed is as the most valuable resource the federal government has -- not a cost."