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Federal Employees News Digest : Dec. 10, 2012
December 10, 2012 Vol. 62, No. 22 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com Employment Laws] and ELC [Executive Leadership Conference] conferences as part of our ongoing mission to prevent discrimi- nation. More information on this is available online at http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/training/. Is there anything else you could add to help our readers? Ryan: The more employees know their rights---and their supervisors their responsibilities---the more we move for- ward in its journey to a discrimination- free America. The EEOC is proud to continue its major role in that effort. *** Federal employees should note that, as EEOC's Ryan specified, if you have suffered or are suffering discrimination either in the hiring process or on the job, typically you should pursue the matter through your agency's EEO office. EEO complaints are managed by these specialized offices or some- times are pursued as part of an appealable adverse action before the MSPB, or even as an employee lawsuit in federal court. For more information, consult appropriately specialized legal counsel and your agency's EEO office. The following webpage lays out current federal anti-discrimination laws--- and the role of the MSPB and OSC in enforcing these laws for federal employees: http://www.eeoc. gov/facts/qanda.html. FECA reform plan would hit those with dependents A Labor Department proposal to revise the benefits paid under the Federal Workers' Compensation Act could save money over the long term, but the consequences of the reforms would not be the same for all beneficiaries, a Government Accountability Office study shows. The Labor Department, which adminis- ters FECA, wants to implement the changes in large part to encourage long-term dis- abled employees to move off FECA rolls at retirement age and into the regular retire- ment system. But as the GAO report notes, some of the changes in the plan would have an especially negative effect on beneficiaries with dependents. Currently, FECA disability beneficiaries without an eligible dependent are compensat- ed at 66-2/3 percent of gross wages at the time of injury, adjusted for inflation. Those who do have an eligible dependent are compensated at 75 percent. But the Labor Department is proposing to set initial FECA benefits at a uniform rate---70 percent of wages at time of inju- ry---regardless of whether a beneficiary has eligible dependents or not. The plan also contains a measure that would encourage total and partial disability FECA beneficiaries to move off the rolls at retirement: Once beneficiaries reached full Social Security retirement age, FECA benefits would drop to 50 percent of applicable wages at time of injury, adjusted for inflation. budget savings In its analysis, GAO found that com- pensating all beneficiaries at 70 percent of wages would reduce the overall median wage replacement rate---the percentage of take-home pay replaced by FECA---from 80 to 77 percent. But beneficiaries with dependents would take the larger hit. While current FECA beneficiaries with a dependent have a medi- an wage replacement rate that is 3 percent- age points greater than that of beneficiaries without a dependent, the proposed revi- sion to the system would shift the inequity in the other direction---beneficiaries with a dependent would have a median wage replacement rate of 6 percentage points less than that of beneficiaries with no depen- dent, the report found. Higher benefits Because FECA compensation is not sub- ject to age restrictions, some policymakers say retirement-age beneficiaries are stay- ing in the FECA system rather than enter retirement. That's because FECA compen- sation is higher than the benefits ben- eficiaries would receive if they retired and entered the Federal Employees Retirement System, which covers most employees hired in 1984 or later. GAO found that the current median "FECA benefit package," which includes both FECA and the Thrift Savings Plan, was 32 percent greater than the median current "FERS benefit package," which consists of FERS, the TSP and Social Security. Under the Labor Department's proposal, the FECA benefit package would be 6 percent less than the FERS package. As part of its analysis, GAO also did a simulation of what it called a "mature FERS system," which simulated future benefits of employees with full 30-year careers. Under that scenario, GAO found the cur- rent median FECA package was on par with or 10 percent less than the median FERS package, depending on TSP contributions. Under the Labor Department proposal, the median FECA benefit package in the mature FERS scenario would be 31 or 35 percent less than the median FERS benefit package, depending on TSP contributions, according to the report. Focus on postal workers GAO also issued a companion report that contained a separate analysis focusing only on FECA beneficiaries from the U.S. Postal Service, which has a large share of the long-term disabled employees on the FECA rolls. With an eye on postal workers in par- ticular, congressional lawmakers earlier in 2012 proposed postal reform legislation that also contained changes to FECA simi- lar to those in the Labor plan, also with the aim of removing the financial incen- tive for retirement-eligible beneficiaries to remain in the system. labor backlash In a statement issued last week, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said the GAO report "under- scores and supports the position of NTEU regarding the serious negative impact on recipients of federal workers' compensa- tion benefits from postal reform legislative language strongly opposed by NTEU and approved earlier this year by the Senate." Kelley noted the disproportionate effect continued from page 1 Don’t miss our discussion of weekly news topics. Discuss these stories and more with your fellow federal workers at www.FederalSoup.com. continued on page 5
Dec. 3, 2012
Dec. 17, 2012