WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, January 28th. 2021, Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Jim Langevin (RI-02), and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) 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 of the job required of Federal first responders, Congress created an accelerated retirement system for these positions and established 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 First Responder 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 and federal law enforcement officers, especially those injured on the job, should not be penalized and deprived of the retirement security they have earned,” said Fitzpatrick. “Our federal first responders deserve our full support for their public service, and I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Reps. Connolly and Langevin to make sure that we have the backs of these everyday heroes.”
“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 Connolly. “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 are still committed to public service.”
“Montanans rely every day on the brave women and men who keep our families safe, and our federal first responders and law enforcement officers shouldn’t be punished if they get hurt while serving their communities,” said Tester. “This bill will right that wrong, and ensure that the folks who protect us can access the full pensions they’ve paid into for years.”
“Federal first responders are heroes who risk so much without hesitation, and we must have their backs if they’re injured on the job,” said Langevin. “The First Responder Fair RETIRE Act will help these heroes receive the benefits they deserve. While we can never fully repay them for their honorable service to the nation and to their fellow Americans, this legislation will help.”
“For Federal Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers, there is a very real potential for incurring debilitating injury every day of their working lives,” said Randy Erwin, National President of the National Federation of Federal Employees. “Year after year they risk their health and in return, they are promised an enhanced ‘6c’ retirement program paid into at a higher employee contribution rate than other employees. Tragically, after sustaining a debilitating injury, many lose their enhanced retirement. They are forced to work years longer while injured plus they lose the money they paid into the retirement plan. It’s a travesty in every sense. We thank our partners in Congress, and urge the House to take up this bill immediately.”
“Federal firefighters deserve the right to their hard-earned retirement when transitioning to other duties after a career-ending injury or illness,” said Harold A. Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters. “On behalf of our federal firefighter members, and more than 324,000 professional firefighters of the IAFF, I want to thank these members of Congress for their leadership on this important issue.”
“For far too long, federal law enforcement officers who are permanently disabled by a line of duty injury have been penalized by the very retirement system that ought to recognize their heroic sacrifice and service,” said President Larry Cosme of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “At a time when we are faced with the greatest threats to officer safety and health, the ‘First Responder Fair RETIRE Act’ is critical to preserving and protecting the financial security of those who sacrifice so much to keep us safe. We greatly appreciate our congressional allies for their continued leadership on this important legislation.”
The full text of the legislation is available here.