Starting June 2011, retired federal employees can expect more accurate interim pension payments during the months while the Office of Personnel Management calculates their full pension.
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Accurate Pensions Promised for Retired Veterans

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Starting June 2011, retired federal employees can expect more accurate interim pension payments during the months while the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) calculates their full pension. Incomplete annuity payments have caused financial hardship for tens of thousands of federal retirees. Many are forced to drain their Thrift Savings Plans while waiting for their full pensions to kick in. The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) have criticized the OPM for issuing annuity checks to new retirees that are less than what they are owed, often for the six months it takes the OPM to calculate exact pension for federal retirees. Rather than overpaying, the OPM's policy is to drastically underpay.

TROUBLESHOOTING THE EMPLOYERS ESTIMATE STRATEGY

According to Bill Zielinski, OPM's associate director of retirement services, the new OPM policy uses employer pension estimates to calculate federal retirees interim annuities. However, this new strategy of relying on employers' initial estimates will not work for retirees with complex service histories. Zielinski fears that employing agencies may not have accounted for everything that determines a federal retirees pension.

SOCIAL SECURITY SUPPLEMENT ISSUES

There is another glitch in OPM's strategy: ignores the fact that interim annuities do not include a Social Security supplement. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) employees who retire before becoming eligible for Social Security benefits should get an extra several hundred dollars a month until Social Security kicks in. However the FERS supplement is not included in OPM's interim payments.

INCREASING EFFICIENCY VIA THE INTERNET

In Summer 2011, OPM plans to improve resources for retirees by providing online accounts for pending claims. Federal retirees can then check the status of their claims, find contact information of the specialists working with them, and receive verification letters for creditors to prove higher income. OPM is also developing a Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol system, increasing information for telephone callers. OPM is also submitting retirement data electronically, rather than manually typing data. This will increase efficiency, saving time for both the retirees and federal employees working with them.



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