First Responder Retirement Fix Passes the House and Others

A measure to change the retirement program for federal first responders who sustain injuries while on duty and who must seek out new employment inside the federal government was unanimously approved by the House on Tuesday.

First responder federal employees, such as those in law enforcement and firefighting, participate in an accelerated retirement benefits package, paying further towards their defined benefit pensions with each paycheck in exchange for receiving a full annuity after 20 years of service and turning 50. They must also retire at the age of 57.

Suppose a federal first responder sustains an injury on the job that prevents them from working any longer. In that case, they are not reimbursed for the higher payments they made over the years and will incur a loss on that hastened retirement program.

The First Responder Fair RETIRE Act (H.R. 521), proposed by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R.-Pa, Jim Langevin, D-R.I, and Gerry Connolly, D-Va, would enable federal first responders who are compelled to seek employment elsewhere in the federal government due to a workplace injury to continue contributing to the accelerated retirement program and retire after 20 years of service and the age of 50.

The new law also allows those workers to get a refund for their initial expedited payments if they leave their federal employment before becoming eligible for a refund.

On Tuesday, Connolly mainly stated on the House floor that “we want to motivate our initial responders to maintain their commitment to this nation.” 

He explained that although federal first responders are eligible for an annuity under the law establishing the enhanced retirement system after 20 years of service, the amount of their annuity is calculated at a higher rate than that of other federal employees in recognition of the risks they take. Unfortunately, not every federal first responder can serve for 20 years.

Connolly recounted the story of a smokejumper who had to parachute out of a plane in 1985, fell into a tree, plunged 80 feet, and shattered his back in five places. “He died twice before he could be recovered and evacuated,” Connolly said. The firefighter decided to take a different job ten years into his tenure, “but the price for his bravery, injury, and service was his exclusion from the retirement system.”

Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.) backed allowing disabled public safety employees to continue working for the government in a new role, crediting Connolly with a “narrowly targeted bill” to address a “technical fault” for federal first responders. The bill was then approved 417-0.

The Senate will now consider the bill.

Opportunities to become law

A unanimous vote strongly signals the Third House of Congress in either chamber. However, a low bill number (H.R. 521) also indicates that at this point in the 117th Congress, the bill would probably pass in its current form. However, there are always exceptions that can happen. The House is debating more than 8,000 pieces of legislation as of July 2022; the average number of every two-year session is in the 5,000s.

Connolly’s measure was initially introduced in January 2021, before the session began. The committee reviewed it two months before his bill was brought to the floor. Additionally, the identical Senate committee has not moved on a similar bill since Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced it at the same time as Connolly. The measures, however, are identical, so if Tester’s is approved by the Senate, the president can sign both into law.

Similar to the House, the Senate is known for passing dozens of bills after a session, so spectators might search for Connolly-Tester amid the growing pile of legislation and wait until December, when the bill will either pass or be tabled until the next Congress.

Contact Information:
Email: aaron@steelecap.net
Phone: 3604642979

Bio:
After entering the financial services industry in 1994, it was a desire to guide people towards their financial independence that drove Aaron to start Steele Capital Management in 2013. Armed with an extensive background in financial planning and commercial banking coupled with a sincere passion for helping people, Aaron has the expertise and affinity for serving the unique needs of those in transition. Clients benefit from his objective financial solutions and education aligned solely with
helping them pursue the most comfortable financial life possible.

Born in Olympia, Washington, Aaron spent much of his childhood in Denver, Colorado. An area outside of Phoenix, Arizona, known as the East Valley, occupies a special place in Aaron’s heart. It is where he graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, started a family, and advanced his professional career.

Having now returned to his hometown of Olympia, and with the days of coaching his sons football and baseball teams behind him, he now has time to pursue his civic passions. Aaron is proud to serve on the Board of Regents Leadership for Thurston County as the Secretary and Treasurer for the Morningside area. His past affiliations include the West Olympia Rotary and has served on various committees for organizations throughout his community.

Aaron and his beautiful wife, Holly, a Registered Nurse, consider their greatest accomplishment having raised Thomas and Tate, their two intelligent and motivated sons. Their oldest son Tate is following in his father’s entrepreneurial footsteps and currently attends the Carson College of Business at Washington State University. Their beloved youngest son, Thomas, is a student at Olympia High School.

Focused on helping veterans and their families navigate the maze of long-term care solutions, Aaron specializes in customized strategies to avoid the financial crisis that care related expenses can create. Experience has shown him that many seniors are not prepared for the economic transition that takes place as they reach an advanced age.

With support from the American Academy of Benefit Planners – an organization with expertise and resources on the intricacies of government benefits – he helps clients close the gap between the cost of care and their income while protecting their assets from depletion.

Aaron can help you and your family to create, preserve and protect your legacy.

That’s making a difference.

Disclosure:
Disclosure:
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After entering the financial services industry in 1994, it was a desire to guide people towards their financial independence that drove Aaron to start Steele Capital Management in 2013. Armed with an extensive background in financial planning and commercial banking coupled with a sincere passion for helping people, Aaron has the expertise and affinity for serving the unique needs of those in transition. Clients benefit from his objective financial solutions and education aligned solely withhelping them pursue the most comfortable financial life possible.Born in Olympia, Washington, Aaron spent much of his childhood in Denver, Colorado. An area outside of Phoenix, Arizona, known as the East Valley, occupies a special place in Aaron’s heart. It is where he graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, started a family, and advanced his professional career.Having now returned to his hometown of Olympia, and with the days of coaching his sons football and baseball teams behind him, he now has time to pursue his civic passions. Aaron is proud to serve on the Board of Regents Leadership for Thurston County as the Secretary and Treasurer for the Morningside area. His past affiliations include the West Olympia Rotary and has served on various committees for organizations throughout his community.Aaron and his beautiful wife, Holly, a Registered Nurse, consider their greatest accomplishment having raised Thomas and Tate, their two intelligent and motivated sons. Their oldest son Tate is following in his father’s entrepreneurial footsteps and currently attends the Carson College of Business at Washington State University. Their beloved youngest son, Thomas, is a student at Olympia High School.Focused on helping veterans and their families navigate the maze of long-term care solutions, Aaron specializes in customized strategies to avoid the financial crisis that care related expenses can create. Experience has shown him that many seniors are not prepared for the economic transition that takes place as they reach an advanced age.With support from the American Academy of Benefit Planners – an organization with expertise and resources on the intricacies of government benefits – he helps clients close the gap between the cost of care and their income while protecting their assets from depletion.Aaron can help you and your family to create, preserve and protect your legacy.That’s making a difference.

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