Connolly-King-Langevin Introduce Fair RETIRE Act
Today, Representatives Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Peter King (R-NY), and Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced the First Responder Fair RETIRE Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure federal firefighters, law enforcement officials, Border Patrol officers, and other federal first responders qualify for full retirement benefits if they are injured on the job. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
Given the hazardous nature the job required of Federal first responders, Congress created an accelerated retirement system for these positions and established a mandatory retirement age of 57. Referred to as “6c” for the section of the law in which this retirement system was established, federal first responders are entitled to an annuity after serving for 20 years and reaching age 50. They pay a greater percentage of their salary into their retirement system, and their annuity amount is calculated at a higher rate than other federal employees who make their payments over the course of 30 years.
The First Responder Fair RETIRE Act addresses inequities facing Federal first responders who may become injured on the job and are then unable to continue their service before full retirement. The Fair RETIRE Act allows federal first responders to stay in the 6c retirement system if they are placed in another civil service position outside of that system after returning to work from a duty related injury. The bill also allows these employees to receive a refund of their accelerated contributions should they be separated from service before they are entitled to an annuity.
“These are our federal firefighters, Capitol Police officers, Secret Service agents, Customs and Border Protections Officers, and other federal law enforcement officials. They put their lives on the line for their fellow Americans every day,” said Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA). “We have a responsibility to uphold our promise to those that are injured on the job. Our bipartisan legislation will ensure these first responders’ benefits are fully protected.”
“Our first responders always put themselves in harm’s way and too many have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Congressman Peter King (R-NY). “We have a moral obligation to ensure that our commitment to them for care and compensation is honored in a timely and respectful manner.”
“When our law enforcement officers and first responders are injured while on duty, we have an obligation to recognize their sacrifice and ensure their hard-earned benefits are protected,” said Congressman Langevin (D-RI), co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus. “The Fair RETIRE Act rights a wrong in the retirement system that was brought to my attention by a brave constituent who was disabled while on duty, and its passage will ensure we continue to honor the commitments we make to the brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to keep our citizens safe.”
“I greatly appreciate Representatives Connolly, Langevin and King’s continuing support for federal fire fighters and the issues surrounding injuries and disabilities suffered in the line of duty,” said International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold A. Schaitberger. “The IAFF fully supports the Fair RETIRE Act of 2017; it is time we recognize the sacrifices made by federal fire fighters who become disabled in the line of duty and ensure they receive full retirement benefits.”
“Federal firefighters and law enforcement officers put their lives on the line for America every single day. Those brave men and women who accept the challenge are faced with the very real potential that an on-the-job injury could leave them disabled and unable to return to service. In return for the high risk that comes with the job, their employer, the United States government, provides a special retirement program as part of their compensation,” said Randy Erwin, National President of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE). “Tragically, after an injury in which they’ve sacrificed their health and well-being in the service of their country, many first responders lose their special retirement—known as ‘6c’ special retirement—when they return to work in different positions. For the first responder, the damage is done. It is wrong for the government to take away their retirement security after a job-related injury or illness. The Fair RETIRE Act addresses this injustice by allowing an ill or injured employee to stay in the ‘6c’ retirement program if placed in an ‘equivalent position’ upon returning to service. As a country, we cannot turn our backs on our injured or ill heroes who gave so much protecting their fellow citizens.”
“Any law enforcement officer or other federal public safety employee who suffers a disabling injury in the line of duty should not be penalized by the very retirement system that ought to be honoring their sacrifice and service; but that is exactly what disabled officers face under current law,” said Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) National President Nathan R. Catura. “FLEOA greatly appreciates the leadership of Representatives Connolly, King, and Langevin in introducing this important legislation to help preserve the retirement status of disabled public safety officers, protect their financial security, and truly honor the sacrifices they have made to keep us safe.”