OPM gives agencies help when rehiring retired feds

Tuesday - 12/13/2011, 3:15pm EST

Retirees can earn a paycheck from an agency on top of their pension benefits if they are fulfilling mission-critical functions and working for less than 20 hours a week.

Those are two tidbits in a new Office of Personnel Management "question and answer" factsheet that explains what agencies must do to rehire federal retirees without disturbing their pension benefits.

The factsheet spells out details of a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010. It lets agencies rehire retirees without OPM's approval as long as they meet certain criteria and comply with annual reporting requirements.

In addition to mission-critical functions, retirees can earn a salary on top of their pension if they do the following tasks:

  • Implement or oversee the Recovery Act or the Troubled Asset Relief Program
  • Develop, manage or oversee procurement
  • Work for the agency's inspector general
  • Recruit, retain, train or mentor employees
  • Respond to an emergency that is life-threatening or could cause serious property damage

Retirees could work no more than 1,040 hours in a year, which is 20 hours per week on average. Agencies could renew the waiver to allow the retiree to work up to 3,120 hours in total, or about three years at 20 hours a week.

Agencies can hire a limited number of retirees. They must make up less than 2.5 percent of the agency's full-time workforce. Retirees earning salaries on top of their pensions must be less than one percent of the agencies workforce, unless the agency submits a justification and a succession plan to Congress and OPM.

President Barack Obama authorized agencies to grant salary offset waivers on a temporary basis in 2009, following an uptick in retiree hires at the Defense Department to ward off brain drain.

The authority lasts until October 2014.

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