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Leaders consider implementation of phased retirement program

By Andy Massanet | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | August 01, 2016

     Senior leaders of the Department of Defense are considering whether to implement a department-wide phased retirement program for most DOD civilian employees.

     “We’ve been in our working groups and have sent our findings to the senior executives,” said Cary Stone, chief of Branch 3, Army Benefits Center - Civilian at Fort Riley.

     According to a June 22 DOD press release, the intent of the program is two-fold: “assist DOD components and agencies with the transfer of knowledge and provide continuity of operations on a short-term basis.”

     According to the release the program, allows retirement-eligible full-time employees to request to work on a part-time basis while receiving a portion of their retirement annuity. It offers eligible employees the opportunity to transition into retirement while providing mentorship and development for the next generation of emerging subject matter experts.

     The release added that participation in the DOD phased retirement program is voluntary and requires the approval of an authorized DOD component official based on written criteria that comply with the office of personnel management regulations. DOD components may opt to develop implementation guidance specific to their organizational structures and establish timeframes for accepting phased retirement applications.

     Stone said, “groups of employees who are specifically excluded under regulation are employees covered under special retirement: firefighters, air traffic controllers and law enforcement officers.”

     According to a memorandum dated June 21, approvals of requests for phased retirement must be based on a sound business case and comply with Office of Personnel Management regulations. DOD components must have written criteria in place to approve or deny applications for phased retirement.

     Employees accepted for the program must be retirement eligible who have been employed on a full-time basis for at least a consecutive three-year period ending on the effective date of entry into phased retirement status. Those who are eligible, the memo says, include:

  1. DOD employees eligible under the civil service retirement system for an immediate retirement who have at least 30 years of service and are at least 55 years old, or who has at least 20 years of service and are at least 60 years old.

  2. An employee eligible under the federal employees retirement system for an immediate retirement who has at least 30 years of service and has reached his or her minimum retirement age, between ages 55 and 57, depending on his or her birth year, or who has at least 20 years of service and is at least 60 years old.

     

         The phased retiree will work half the number of hours he or she worked as a full-time employee immediately before entering phased retirement, the memo says, since an intent of the program is the transfer of knowledge and the continuity of operations.

         Phased retirees will mentor other employees for at least 20 percent of their working hours, and DOD components will establish mentoring guidelines to best fit their needs. Other conditions include:

         Mentoring is not limited to an employee who may assume the phased retiree’s duties upon the phased retiree’s final retirement.

         An authorized DOD component official may waive the mentoring requirement in the event of an emergency or other unusual circumstances — such as a phased retiree being called up for active duty — that would make it impractical for the phased retiree to fulfill the mentoring requirement.

         There is also a mentoring component to the program. A phased retiree may be allowed to work more than half the number of hours if a DOD component official authorizes.

         A component official is one delegated authority by that DOD component head to approve requests for phased retirement.

         Working more than half the normal hours may be approved only in rare and exceptional circumstances meeting all of the following conditions:

  1. The work is necessary to respond to an emergency posing a significant, immediate and direct threat to life or property.

  2. An authorized DOD component official determines no other qualified employee is available to perform the required work.

  3. The phased retiree is relieved from performing excess work as soon as reasonably possible (e.g., by management assignment of work to other employees).

  4. When an emergency situation could have been anticipated in advance, management made advance plans to minimize any necessary excess work by the phased retiree.

  5. The established work schedule is subject to any applicable agency policy and applicable collective bargaining agreement.

     

         While it is early in the evaluation process, Stone said, once DOD leaders approve the plan, “things will happen quickly after that.”

     For more information, call Fort Riley’s Army Benefits Center - Civilian at Fort Ri­ley toll-free 877-276-9287 or 785-240-2222.