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Overturning OPM’s Assault on the RAS


In the summer of 2016, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) implemented a revised policy with respect to whether the FERS retirement annuity supplement (RAS) was divisible between a retiree and his or her former spouse regardless of whether the RAS was specifically cited in the terms of the divorce decree.  However, OPM failed to notify the public or impacted retirees of the revised policy prior to its implementation despite the fact that such decision would have far-reaching financial implications for both retirees and their former spouses.  For the past two years, FLEOA has engaged with Congress and officials at OPM over the agency’s clandestine efforts to "redistribute” a portion of the FERS retirement annuity supplement between a federal retiree and his or her former spouse. 

 

Since 2016, both the OPM-OIG and MSPB have found that OPM’s actions constituted a reinterpretation of current law that was outside of the agency’s authority and was done absent a specific grant of authority from Congress or through a notice-and-comment rulemaking process.  In the more than two years since it implemented this revised policy, OPM has applied its reinterpretation retroactively, and in some cases years after the retiree and his or her former spouse had divorced and reopened state court orders dividing FERS benefits.  This has resulted in serious financial harm to retirees and has created debts due to the federal government of as much as $28,389.96—debts for which OPM has sought repayment in the form of prospective and retrospective assessments from annuitants’ retirement benefits.

 

It has been a long, uphill climb to try and overturn OPM’s clandestine actions—one made all the more difficult by the lack of transparency on the part of OPM to provide information to FLEOA and Congress over two Administrations.  We are, however, making progress and FLEOA is working hard with its allies on Capitol Hill to have legislation introduced within weeks.  This legislation will clarify that the RAS is divisible between a retiree and his or her former spouse only if the RAS is specifically cited in the terms of the divorce decree, and it will provide full retroactive relief to any retiree who has been "billed” for repayment by OPM. 

 

Additional background on the RAS issue and FLEOA’s efforts to date is available here . We will provide updates on our progress to move this legislation forward as circumstances warrant. 

 

Contact Dominic Stokes for more info/questions.