Federal pay, benefits in question

Friday - 6/17/2011, 5:25pm EDT

Tammy Flanagan, Senior Benefits Director, National Institute of Transition Planning

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By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

As Congress considers a number of bills that could significantly change federal employees' pay and benefits, one federal benefits expert assures feds that such proposals are still "a long way from becoming law."

"Right now, I think it's a lot of talk," said Tammy Flanagan, senior benefits director for the National Institute of Transition Planning.

One proposal from the President's budget deficit reduction commission was to change federal employees' retirement formula from a high-three to a high-five calculation, basing annuity on the highest five years of salary.

Feds are also worried about a proposal to change the share that the government pays into health care premiums.

Such concerns aren't new, however, Flanagan said. She said she conducted a pre-retirement benefits seminar in 1985 and the memo she read listed these same threats to feds' benefits.

The difference now is the anti-federal employee atmosphere on the Hill has coincided with the urgency to cut spending.

"With so many problems between the economy the debt ceiling the wars...I think some people feel the time is right and there might be some changes that actually do happen," Flanagan said.

Federal employees can't control how lawmakers vote, but they can control their own retirement plan.

"Make the most of TSP," she said. "Save as much as you can so you are prepared."