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FLEOA OPM’s Retired Annuitant Supplement Update

Over the last few months, the association has been steadily making progress with the OPM Retired Annuitant Supplement (RAS) issue.

 

To recap, in 2016 OPM reversed a decades-old practice and, in violation of federal law, began to apportion an annuitant’s supplemental benefits to former spouses any time it divided the annuitant’s basic annuity, even when the divorce agreement was silent regarding the supplement. This policy is problematic for a host of reasons: it unfairly disregards retirees’ negotiated agreements; it deprives affected retirees of often substantial portions of their anticipated retirement incomes; and it divides a retirement benefit that is meant as a temporary stand-in for future social security benefits, which are specifically not divisible under law.

 

OPM’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) sided with FLEOA’s assessment and concluded that by dividing an annuitant’s RAS absent specific direction to do so in a divorce court order, OPM was violating policy and law. OPM nevertheless rejected its own OIG’s conclusions, leaving FLEOA with little choice but to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of all its impacted retired members, after its efforts to resolve the issue informally with OPM failed. Since we filed the lawsuit, OPM has returned monies to some of the impacted annuitants with a provision that OPM may seek to recollect that money if the Government prevails in court.

 

In our September 2019 update, the Government moved to dismiss our case and that motion was pending. It is worthy to note that FLEOA scored an important initial victory in November 2019 when the court denied that motion and rejected the Government's position that the only way to challenge a retirement-related policy is through the MSPB.

 

The court went on to say, however, that it needed additional information about OPM’s actions before deciding whether our particular claims belong in court. It therefore ordered the agency to produce such information and directed the parties to file supplemental briefs on whether the agency's actions constitute the type of action that can be reviewed under the Administrative Procedure Act. That briefing is currently underway and will wrap up in mid-January, at which time, we will await another ruling.

 

You can rest assured that FLEOA will continue efforts to address this unfair and unlawful OPM policy. No member, active or retired, will "go it alone”.

 

Happy New Year to all.

 

 

Sincerely,

Larry Cosme

National President