$50K Buyout and a Pony?

Monday - 5/16/2011, 4:00am EDT

If Uncle Sam offered a limited-time-only super-generous incentive would that persuade you to take either regular or early retirement? Under current rules, buyouts are limited to a maximum of $25,000 (before deductions) and early retirements are possible at age 50 with 20 years of service or at any age with 25 years of service.

But what if the deal was this: A $50,000 payment, five extra years credited to both your age and service time meaning a much higher lifetime annuity. And a pony! A really cute one.

Would you take it? Would you bail out?

Before you answer, I have a confession to make.

Confession: I made up the pony part. Also...

Somebody else, about 30 years ago, made up the rest. The parts about a $50,000 retirement bonus and 5-years added to your age and service time. But that false rumor is still making the rounds and people continue to believe it, or to seek confirmation that it's true. It's not!!!

When the rumor started (and this was long before Congress okayed buyouts) it was called the Triple Nickle. That's because, first time around, it said that people would get $5,000 payment, and 5 years added to their age and service time. Hence 5, 5, 5.

Over the years, the bogus bonus has been adjusted for inflation. Today the rumor mill says the $5,000 payment has been increased to $50,000. Wrong then. Wrong now. But people continue to (or want to) believe in it.

When the Triple Nickle was born it was a simpler time. Only people with hearing aides had things stuck in their ear. Only mentally disturbed people talked to themselves on the street or in the subway. Back then they communicated by telephone or by "letters" in which they wrote stuff on a piece of paper, put it in an "envelope" and "mailed" it to one individual. Now with the internet, e-mail and various social networking advance bogus reports. Some of them are dressed up, real-looking fake "news" stories that can circle the globe in seconds.

Last week we got queries about the bogus bonus offer from Quantico, Va.; Great Falls, Mont. and Ramstein, Germany. Still not true. But hope springs eternal.

Federal agencies can (and sometimes do) still give buyouts/early outs. The U.S. Postal Service is offering them (limited to $20,000 spread over two years) to some administrative employees. The Federal Trade Commission is offering them and Air Force's AMC is considering buyouts.

It is possible, even likely, that some agencies will offer limited, targeted buyouts in the future. But not the Triple Nickle type. So don't budget for a $50,000 windfall, or an enhanced pension. And tell the kids or grandchildren sorry, no pony.

For the latest on real buyouts, click here.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com


Nearly Useless Factoid
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