Ok, you can if you want to, but it will cost you roughly $350 per year versus waiting until 2014 to retire.
Fedweek produced a somewhat tongue-in-cheek article calling the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act the ‘No FERS Employee Retires in 2013 Act’.
For those who recall, the 2010 NDAA restored sick leave parity between the FERS and CSRS systems, phasing in full sick leave credit for FERS participants in 2014.
Would you gut it out an additional year just for a $350 per year annuity check? I don’t think so, but a FERS employees ‘on the fence’ in December of 2013 might wait until January of 2014 to retire.
We’ll have to wait and see.
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On December 26th, while we were all busy recovering from the Holiday and headed out for year-end clearance sales, the Treasury Secretary dropped a surprise on us. He announced that the federal government will once again hit its ‘debt ceiling’ on Dec 31st, and that the Treasury will take ‘extraordinary measures’ to stretch out its checkbook.
Interestingly, the most comprehensive breakdown I’ve found of the ‘extraordinary measures‘ is from the UK’s Guardian, not from a US-based news organization. The four measures, listed in order of magnitude, are:
- Stop investments in to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF)- the CSRS annuity for retired and disabled CSRS participants (note: I am clueless on the CSRS retirement system as I am not a participant. The link is informative, but an opinion piece).
- Suspending investments in to the TSP G Fund.
- Halt issuance of State and Local government securities (SLGS)
- Cease contributing to the Exchange Stabilization Fund (used to purchase foreign currency).
What #2 means to you and me is that, among other things, the Treasury Department will take out a 401k loan against your TSP balance. Specifically, the Treasury will borrow from the G Fund and issue IOU’s to pay them back at a later date.
If this all sounds familiar, it is. This is one of many extraordinary measures the Treasury took last time the nation neared its debt ceiling in May of 2011. After the debt deal was reached in August of 2011 (which set up Sequestration, aka the ‘fiscal cliff’), the TSP G Fund balances were made whole.
What’s it mean to you and me? Probably not much, as long as:
- You don’t take personal offense at the Treasury Secretary raiding your individual retirement funds (Your TSP balance).
- All past and present government employees and military participants in the TSP do not all sell-off their G Fund holdings at once.
- Institutional Investors and sovereign nations continue to purchase US Government-issued debt.
The mechanics of how the G Fund is raided are described pretty well in this 2002 GovExec article, when the G Fund was about to be raided in order to avoid a what-seems-paltry-now debt ceiling limit of $6 Trillion.
Gubmints has been on the road making the world safe for democracy.
In the meantime, I still have not seen any detailed financial analysis of the effects of sequestration on the federal employee.
However, here is a decent guide from the Washington Post regarding compensation and job security for federal employees under sequestration.
*** Updated 1/2/2013 with the ‘Fiscal Cliff Deal‘, updates in italics ***
Cliff Deal Notes (Part Two) –
As promised, I’ve run the numbers on what the Fiscal Cliff (aka Sequestration, aka Taxmageddon) will cost Joe and Jane Sixpack.
There’s no chance of a deal being worked out by the lame duck Congress. Both sides are too far apart and there are too few work days left in the year. If you disagree with me, then I’ve got some arid mountain land to sell you in Florida. (Update 1/2/2013, I was right about the Year, but wrong about the lame duck congress not making a deal before the new congress being sworn in).
So it’s time to brace for impact. Crunching the numbers as promised, here are the assumptions:
- Mid-grade Federal Employee, married w/2 kids, living on the West Coast or an expensive area like Washington DC (this covers over half of active Federal Employees).
- Itemized deductions of $31,000 (reasonable assumption for areas with expensive mortgages).
- 4 exemptions claimed
- Annual Long Term Capital Gains of $8000.
- Annual Qualified Dividends of $2600.
- Health Care Flex Spending Account election of $5,000 in 2012 (capped at $2,500 in 2013).
Here are the calculations:
Holy Schnikes! Looks like I’ll be paying Uncle Sam another
$4k $3k next year for the same amount of work. Note that these calculations can apply to just about anyone in the current 25% marginal bracket- just knock of the anticipated 0.4 percent hike in FERS annuity contributions. (1/1/2013 Update Notes: still plenty of uncertainty about FERS contributions, still some uncertainty with the Executive Order-ed 0.5 percent pay increase for federal employees).
Feel free to
plug in your own numbers plug in the new numbers to see how the ‘Fiscal Cliff Deal’ Sequestration will affect you. Enjoy!
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