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Lankford, Sinema Introduce Bill to Clarify Federal Retirement Pension for Federal Law Enforcement

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, today introduced the Retirement Annuity Supplement Clarity Act. The bill addresses an issue with the way the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) calculates the retirement annuity supplement for federal employees, mainly federal law enforcement officers, who have a divorce settlement dividing their annuity. Lankford and Sinema worked directly with the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) to develop this legislative proposal.

“Federal law enforcement officers stand on the front lines to defend our families and our communities every day. They should always be able to focus on their mission, rather than federal regulations that complicate their retirement calculations,” said Lankford. “This bill will resolve a years-long problem so OPM has a clear directive for how to handle these payments, and it empowers OPM to consider court orders when divvying up annuity payments for divorced retirees.”

“Federal law enforcement officers across Arizona secure our border and keep Arizonans safe. The government owes it to these brave officers to keep its promises and protect the retirement benefits they’ve earned,” said Sinema.

“For the past four years, FLEOA has challenged this fundamental reinterpretation of the divisibility of an annuity supplement, which has threatened the financial security of retired federal law enforcement officers across this country,” said President Larry Cosme of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA). “FLEOA appreciates the leadership of Senators Lankford and Sinema in bringing forward this important legislation and helping us to restore the hard-earned retirement benefits of those who spent a career protecting and serving our nation.”

OPM currently divides annuity supplements the same as the basic annuity in a divorce, regardless of the court order in the divorce proceeding. The Retirement Annuity Supplement Clarity Act:

  • Clarifies that OPM has the flexibility to follow a court order, if that order specifically divides the annuity supplement, rather than the blanket approach applied now
  • Repays annuitants who were retired on or before June 30, 2016, and entitled to an annuity supplement that was subject to a court order that was silent on division of the supplement, or expressly excluded the supplement from division; and whose annuity supplement was recomputed retroactively
  • Clarifies that any collection of overpayments to former spouses due to this recalculation shall be waived

OPM’s 2018 Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Report provides additional background on this issue facing federal annuitants.