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Connolly, King, Langevin reintroduce Fair RETIRE Act

congressReps. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Peter King (R-NY), and Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced the First Responder Fair RETIRE Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure federal firefighters, law enforcement officials, Border Patrol officers, and other federal first responders qualify for full retirement benefits if they are injured on the job.

Given the hazardous nature the job required of Federal first responders, Congress created an accelerated retirement system for these positions and established a mandatory retirement age of 57. Referred to as “6c” for the section of the law in which this retirement system was established, federal first responders are entitled to an annuity after serving for 20 years and reaching age 50. They pay a greater percentage of their salary into their retirement system, and their annuity amount is calculated at a higher rate than other federal employees who make their payments over the course of 30 years.

The First Responder Fair RETIRE Act addresses inequities facing Federal first responders who may become injured on the job and are then unable to continue their service before full retirement. The Fair RETIRE Act allows federal first responders to stay in the 6c retirement system if they are placed in another civil service position outside of that system after returning to work from a duty related injury. The bill also allows these employees to receive a refund of their accelerated contributions should they be separated from service before they are entitled to an annuity.

“Our federal firefighters, Capitol Police officers, Secret Service agents, Customs and Border Protections Officers, and other federal law enforcement officials put their lives on the line every day for our fellow Americans,” said Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations. “We have a responsibility to uphold our promise to those that are injured on the job and ensure their first responders’ benefits are fully protected. They shouldn’t be penalized, especially when they still wish to continue in public service. I want to thank Representatives King and Langevin for their leadership on this issue.”

“Our first responders always put themselves in harm’s way and too many have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Congressman Peter King (R-NY). “We have a moral obligation to ensure that our commitment to them for care and compensation is honored in a timely and respectful manner.”

“Federal first responders make extraordinary sacrifices to keep us safe, and it is our responsibility to ensure they receive the benefits they deserve when injured in the line of duty,” said Congressman Langevin (D-RI). “I am proud to join Congressman Connolly in reintroducing the Fair RETIRE Act to fix the inequities in the current retirement system and honor these brave individuals.”

“Federal fire fighters deserve the right to their hard-earned retirement when transitioning to other duties after a career-ending injury or illness,” stated Harold A. Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters.  “On behalf of our federal fire fighter members, and more than 315,000 professional fire fighters of the IAFF, I want to  thank to Representative Connolly for his leadership on this important issue.”

“For Federal Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers, their jobs are hazardous as well as strenuous, and there is a very real potential for debilitating injury every day of their working lives. They put their lives and health on the line year after year and in return, their employer, the United States government, has promised them an enhanced ‘6c’ retirement program as part of their compensation. Tragically, after they’ve given their health in the service of their country and need it most, the government takes it away.  We thank Representative Connolly and urge the House to take up this bill immediately,” said Randy Erwin, NFFE National President.

“Any law enforcement officer or other federal public safety employee who suffers a disabling injury in the line of duty should not be penalized by the very retirement system that ought to recognize their heroic sacrifice and service; but that is exactly what disabled officers face under current law,” said Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) National President Nathan Catura.  “The ‘First Responder Fair RETIRE Act’ helps to preserve the retirement status of disabled public safety officers, protects their financial security, and truly honors the sacrifices they have made to keep us safe.  FLEOA greatly appreciates the leadership of Representative Connolly in reintroducing this important legislation.”

Text of the legislation is available here.

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