Economics, Entitlements

How Generous Are Federal Employee Pensions?

USA Today reports that “retirement programs for former federal workers—civilian and military—are growing so fast they now face a multitrillion-dollar shortfall nearly as big as Social Security’s.” USA Today’s figures include both pension and retiree health costs and are inclusive of military programs, so it is a broad figure. Nevertheless, it raises an interesting question: how did retirement costs for a small segment of the population grow to rival Social Security, a program designed to cover nearly all Americans? One big reason is that federal pension benefits are simply very generous relative to typical private sector plans.

How generous? To check, I took a stylized worker and ran his annual salary through both the federal pension programs and a typical plan offered to private sector employees to see the difference in how much they would end up with at retirement. Since federal workers receive higher salaries than the average private sector worker (more on that here) I assumed the employee earned 150 percent of the average wage each year; that would put his earnings this year at a bit over $60,000. I assumed he entered the workforce at age 21 and worked until age 65; in reality, most people take some time out of the workforce and most federal employees have held other jobs, but for these purposes that doesn’t matter too much.

Most current federal employees are covered by two pension plans: a defined benefit (DB) program known as the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and a defined contribution (DC) program called the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). For a federal employee who retires at age 62 or older and has 20 or more years of service, his basic FERS benefit will equal 1.1 percent of his highest 3 years of average earnings, multiplied by his years of service. For FERS, most federal employees contribute 0.85 percent of pay, with the remaining costs covered by the government. The Thrift Savings Plan functions similarly to a private sector 401(k) plan. Federal employers contribute 1 percent of worker wages to the TSP regardless of whether individuals participate. In addition, the federal government matches employee contributions $1.00 per $1.00 for the first 3 percent of earnings contributed and $.50 per $1.00 for the next 2 percent of earnings. A federal employee contributing 5 percent of earnings to the TSP would receive a total employer contribution of 5 percent of earnings. Most current federal employees also participate in the Social Security program.

In the private sector, a typical pension plan today is a defined contribution 401(k) program, which is generally funded with a combination of worker contributions and employer matches. The most common matching formula is $.50 per $1.00 of contributions, up to the first 6 percent of pay. Around one-third of employers offering matching 401(k) plans use this approach, so we’ll follow it here. DB plans still exist in the private sector, but they’re shrinking fast: only 13 of the Fortune 100 companies now offer a traditional DB plan to newly hired employees. Some offer so-called “hybrid plans”—which are themselves shrinking—while the remainder offer 401(k) plans.

For both 401(k)s and the TSP, we need to make the risk of the benefits they offer comparable to the guaranteed benefits from a defined benefit plan; otherwise, investments in riskier assets like stocks will seem like “free money.” To do that, I follow the Congressional Budget Office’s approach of assuming that DC plans invest in government bonds, which I assume to have a 4 percent yield. That’s higher than the roughly 2.5 percent Treasury securities are currently paying but lower than the historical average, so you can adjust up or down as you see fit. Once people retire, I convert their DC accounts to a joint and survivor annuity using rates published by the TSP. For both workers, I assume they contribute enough to receive the maximum employer match to their DC account; but in comparing benefits I use only those generated by the employer match, not from the worker’s own contributions.

In both federal and private sector employment the worker would receive the same annual Social Security benefit of around $21,656. At retirement, the worker’s highest three years of earnings average at $60,368; with an assumed 44 years of service and a 1.1 percent replacement factor, that generates an annual FERS pension of $29,218. In addition, the annuitized value of the employer match to the TSP generates another $6,960 in annual benefits, for a total retirement income of $57,834. In addition, the federal employee would have whatever income his own TSP contributions generated.

The private sector worker would have a Social Security benefit of around $21,656, plus an annuity payment drawn from his employer’s 401(k) contributions of around $4,175 per year. The total retirement income would be around $25,832, plus whatever he received through his own 401(k) contributions. To make things simple, $25,832/$57,834 = around 45 percent, so the private sector worker clearly is receiving far less.

Now, we can haggle about some of these assumptions. Maybe private sector workers who are comparable to federal workers in terms of education or other skills receive more generous pensions. But even if we assume that the employer matches 6 percent of pay rather than the more typical 3 percent, that brings the private pension benefit up to only 51 percent of the federal level. And bear in mind that these percentage differences are reduced by the inclusion of Social Security; if I looked only at employer-provided pension benefits, the private benefit would be only around one-tenth the federal level.

Put it this way: federal employees have a more generous defined contribution pension than most private sector workers, and on top of this they have a defined benefit plan for which they pay less than 1 percent of salaries. State and local workers who participate in Social Security usually have more generous DB plans (a replacement factor of around 1.9 percent of final earnings versus 1 or 1.1 percent for federal employees, according to the Public Plans Database), but they pay far more for their benefits: almost 5 percent of pay versus less than 1 percent for federal employees.

In addition, federal employees are also eligible for retiree health coverage, which is very valuable for early retirees but which in the private sector is shrinking even faster than DB pensions. Based on CBO figures, Jason Richwine and I estimated that eligibility for retiree health coverage is worth around an extra 6 percent of pay for federal workers.

In simple terms, the federal employment package is a great deal for federal employees, and as a former federal employee I was happy to get it. But if you wonder why costs are so high, now you know.

175 thoughts on “How Generous Are Federal Employee Pensions?

  1. What we have determined is that the public sector has reduced benefits to maintain or increase profitability. It’s the same as why they have closed factories in the U.S. and moved them to Mexico or Asia. The plans that the Federal Government has used and modified (CSRS to FERS) through the years have been good plans but now they are “generous” because large corporations are making profits and not maintaining there retired employees benefits.

    Federal pay and benefits did not drive the government to the brink of insolvency, and reducing them will not balance the budget.

    Personally, I’d like the FERS agreement that I made with my employer, the Federal Government kept. Mr. Biggs risks being labeled a shill for the far right wing who justifies big corporations reductions in employee pay and benefits.

    • The assumptions above are pure fiction. If Federal Benefits were so great, the author of this article would have joined the federal government instead of staying in the private sector.

  2. Advocating to a very receptive anti-Government constituency, Mr. Biggs compares the average private sector worker to the strawman-Fed that he creates. This simply yields the result Mr. Biggs desires, as opposed to something reflective of the overall state of Federal compensation and benefits over a historically significant period. Not only must one compare Federal workers to private sector workers in the same occupations, at the same level of expertise, with the same level of experience, in the relevant labor market, and for the same number of work years — to be meaningful, one must also make the comparison between institutional employers of roughly similar character and make the comparison over a period of years.

    First, Federal professional employees are notorious for giving up the potential for greater current compensation in the private sector to obtain a solid retirement package. Even if, for the sake of argument only, Federal employees are considered to have acheived pay parity, this pay parity is a relatively recent phenomenon. Please note that the statistics that Mr. Biggs quotes about traditional DB and hybrid benefit plans offered by the Fortune 100 still cover 30% of those firms FOR STARTING EMPLOYEES, and that this percentage has declined from 83% over the last ten years. I wonder what percentage of current Fortune 100 workers continue to be covered by those DB plans? Quite a few, I would imagine. Moreover, I can guarantee you that the retirement plan was not the (or perhaps even a) principal motivating factor for job acceptance. No offsets, Mr. Biggs?

    The idea of the Fortune 100 comparison is, however, generally accurate, as the Federal Government is among the largest, if not the largest, employer in the Nation. Attempts to compare Federal worker benefits to the worker benefits of Mom and Pop operations and small businesses employing the greatest number of Americans (“the average”) is transparently inapropos. The smaller businesses are, ON AVERAGE, simply not in a position to pay out like benefits (nor have they ever been).

    View it as a clarification or correction, but Mr. Bigg’s “stylized” Federal worker has that worker starting at the age of 21, even though Federal civilian employees increasingly are professional and come to the Government with four year and advanced degrees, which probably makes their starting dates later (and which, incidentally, would make them even less likely to work for Mom and Pop businesses). How all of this is captured in Mr. Biggs’ 150% plug is beyond me.

    “For both 401(k)s and the TSP, we need to make the risk of the benefits they offer comparable to the guaranteed benefits from a defined benefit plan; otherwise, investments in riskier assets like stocks will seem like ‘free money.’” Indeed, now that the market has gone soft, DB plans look like quite a boon, but it wasn’t so until very recently Mr. Biggs. The free money that you mention catipulted many private sector workers throughout the 1990s into much more favorable retirement positions (at a time when stock options and other forms of equity participation and bonuses were also available to them and not Federal sector workers). Yet, it appears that Mr. Biggs only wants to compare Federal compensation and benefits and private analogues (such as they are) at only one time — when times are tough on the private sector. Where was Mr. Biggs on this issue in 1998? I would also find it useful to know what the participation percentage of the Fortune 100 company workers is in their 401ks, as opposed to Federal employee participation in TSP, and what salaries are at issue in both cases. Whoops, Mr. Biggs.

    The problem, writ large, with Mr. Biggs’ article is that it starts off with an incorrect assumption — that Federal employees get three retirement plans, when the private sector only gets one. The facts are these Mr. Biggs, except for those old timers and persons under legacy or alternate systems, everybody is getting Social Security. Don’t hold it against the Federal employees. They were told when they were offered to elect out of CSRS or placed in FERS that their retirement was one plan composed of three parts: a traditional DB (much reduced from what it had been under CSRS), the TSP (which offered financial opportunity but little in the way of asssurances), and Social Security (like everybody else, and as opposed to the substitute system formerly provided under CSRS). All of this was to get Federal employees into the game private entities were playing at that time. However, Federal employees skipped the bounty years of the 1990s.

    The picture presented by Mr. Biggs conflates to AEI’s advantage the enduring but otherwise unexceptional Federal retirement package with the real monster in the room — military health care costs. Care to tease those costs out of the USA Today article Mr. Biggs (or to somehow factor in that civilian Federal employees are paying a greater percentage of their health care costs than those with health care coverage in the private sector). Attempting to lock Federal employees into a relatively new and miserable small business worker paradigm for the next several decades is just a ploy to vindicate AEI and its fellow traveler’s ultimate goal: to make government small enough that it can be drowned in a bathtub. Dramatically reducing Federal retiree benefits will do just that — by eliminating for anybody in their right mind the most attractive pecuniary inducement to work for the Federal Government.

    Of course, all of these comparisons are a bit of a shell game because the biggest mastake is to think the two sectors can be meaningfully compared at all. Since Mr. Biggs likes to quantify the unquantifiable, I would simply like him to put a dollar value on what it would be worh in the private sector to be exposed to the following restrictions, which work with heavy emphasis if not entirely on Federal sector employees.

    Advocating to a very receptive anti-Government constituency, Mr. Biggs compares the average private sector worker to the strawman-Fed that he creates. This simply yields the result Mr. Biggs desires, as opposed to something reflective of the overall state of Federal compensation and benefits over a historically significant period. Not only must one compare Federal workers to private sector workers in the same occupations, at the same level of expertise, with the same level of experience, in the relevant labor market, and for the same number of work years — to be meaningful, one must also make the comparison between institutional employers of roughly similar character and make the comparison over a period of years.

    First, Federal professional employees are notorious for giving up the potential for greater current compensation in the private sector to obtain a solid retirement package. Even if, for the sake of argument only, Federal employees are considered to have acheived pay parity, this pay parity is a relatively recent phenomenon. Please note that the statistics that Mr. Biggs quotes about traditional DB and hybrid benefit plans offered by the Fortune 100 still cover 30% of those firms FOR STARTING EMPLOYEES, and that this percentage has declined from 83% over the last ten years. I wonder what percentage of current Fortune 100 workers continue to be covered by those DB plans? Quite a few, I would imagine. Moreover, I can guarantee you that the retirement plan was not the (or perhaps even a) principal motivating factor for job acceptance. No offsets, Mr. Biggs?

    The idea of the Fortune 100 comparison is, however, generally accurate, as the Federal Government is among the largest, if not the largest, employer in the Nation. Attempts to compare Federal worker benefits to the worker benefits of Mom and Pop operations and small businesses employing the greatest number of Americans (“the average”) is transparently inapropos. The smaller businesses are, ON AVERAGE, simply not in a position to pay out like benefits (nor have they ever been).

    View it as a clarification or correction, but Mr. Bigg’s “stylized” Federal worker has that worker starting at the age of 21, even though Federal civilian employees increasingly are professional and come to the Government with four year and advanced degrees, which probably makes their starting dates later (and which, incidentally, would make them even less likely to work for Mom and Pop businesses). How all of this is captured in Mr. Biggs’ 150% plug is beyond me.

    “For both 401(k)s and the TSP, we need to make the risk of the benefits they offer comparable to the guaranteed benefits from a defined benefit plan; otherwise, investments in riskier assets like stocks will seem like ‘free money.’” Indeed, now that the market has gone soft, DB plans look like quite a boon, but it wasn’t so until very recently Mr. Biggs. The free money that you mention catipulted many private sector workers throughout the 1990s into much more favorable retirement positions (at a time when stock options and other forms of equity participation and bonuses were also available to them and not Federal sector workers). Yet, it appears that Mr. Biggs only wants to compare Federal compensation and benefits and private analogues (such as they are) at one time — when times are tough on the private sector. Where was Mr. Biggs on this issue in 1998? I would also find it useful to know what the participation percentage of the Fortune 100 company workers is in their 401ks, as opposed to Federal employee participation in TSP, and what salaries are at issue in both cases. Whoops, Mr. Biggs.

    The problem writ large with Mr. Biggs’ article is that it starts off with an incorrect assumption — that Federal employees get three retirement plans, when the private sector only gets one. The facts are these Mr. Biggs, except for those old timers and persons under legacy or alternate systems, everybody is getting Social Security. Don’t hold it against the Federal employees. They were told when they were offered to elect out of CSRS or placed in FERS that their retirement was one plan composed of three parts: a tradition DB (much reduced from what it had been under CSRS), the TSP (which offered opportunity but little asssurances), and Social Security (like everybody else, and as opposed to the substitute system formerly provided under CSRS). All of this was to get Federal employees into the game private entities were playing at that time. Federal employees skipped the bounty years of the 1990s.

    The picture presented by Mr. Biggs conflates to AEI’s advantage this solid but unexceptional Federal retirement benefits with the real monster in the room — military health care costs. Care to tease those out Mr. Biggs, or to somehow factor in Federal employees arepaying a greater percentage of their health care costs as Federal employees than those with health care coverage in the private sector. Attempting to lock Federal employees into a relatively new and miserable small business worker paradigm for the next several decades is just a ploy to vindicate AEI’s ultimate goal: to make government small enough that it can be drowned in a bathtub. Dramatically reducing Federal retiree benefits will do just that — by eliminating for anybody in their right mind the most attractive pecuniary inducement to work for the Federal Government.

    Of course, all of these comparisons are a bit of a shell game because the biggest mastake is to think the two sectors can be meaningfully compared at all. These types of analyses (even those performed by those without an ax to grind) also tend to also completely overlook the sometimes substantial burdens that uniquely accompany Federal employment and for which there is no clear financial offset. For example, many Federal jobs require recurrent intrusive security investigations that many private sector workers could not clear. As well, Federal managers, and the workers they supervise, deal with restrictions on their private and work conduct (illustrated below), which are often enforced by criminal penalties, and which most private sector workers would find unsettling and onerous.

    The prohibition against solicitation or receipt of bribes (18 U.S.C. § 201(b)).

    The prohibition against solicitation or receipt of illegal gratuities (18 U.S.C. § 201(c)).

    The prohibition against seeking or receiving compensation for certain representational services before the Government (18 U.S.C. § 203).

    The prohibition against assisting in the prosecution of claims against the Government or acting as agent or attorney before the Government (18 U.S.C. § 205).

    The post-employment restrictions applicable to former employees (18 U.S.C. § 207)

    The prohibition on certain former agency officials’ acceptance of compensation from a contractor (41 U.S.C. § 423(d)).

    The prohibition against participating in matters affecting an employee’s own financial interests or the financial interests of other specified persons or organizations (18 U.S.C. § 208).

    The actions required of certain agency officials when they contact, or are contacted by, offerors or bidders regarding non-Federal employment (41 U.S.C. § 423(c)).

    The prohibition against receiving salary or any contribution to or supplementation of salary as compensation for Government service from a source other than the United States (18 U.S.C. § 209).

    The prohibition against gifts to superiors (5 U.S.C. § 7351).

    The prohibition against solicitation or receipt of gifts from specified prohibited sources (5 U.S.C. § 7353).

    The provisions governing receipt and disposition of foreign gifts and decorations (5 U.S.C. § 7342).

    The prohibitions against certain political activities (5 U.S.C. §§ 7321-7326 and 18 U.S.C. §§ 602- 603, 606-607).

    The prohibitions against disloyalty and striking (5 U.S.C. § 7311 and 18 U.S.C. § 1918).

    The general prohibition against acting as the agent of a foreign principal required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (22 U.S.C. §§ 611- 621).

    The prohibition against employment of a person convicted of participating in or promoting a riot or civil disorder (5 U.S.C. § 7313).

    The prohibition against employment of an individual who habitually uses intoxicating beverages to excess (5 U.S.C. § 7352).

    The prohibition against misuse of a Government vehicle (31 U.S.C. § 1344).

    The prohibition against misuse of the franking privilege (18 U.S.C. § 1719).

    The prohibition against concealing, mutilating or destroying a public record (18 U.S.C. § 2071).

    The prohibition against counterfeiting or forging transportation requests (18 U.S.C. § 508).

    The restrictions on disclosure of certain sensitive Government information under the FOIA and the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. §§ 552 and 552a).

    The prohibition against failing to account for public money (18 U.S.C. § 643).

    The prohibitions against disclosure of classified information (18 U.S.C. §798 and 50 U.S.C. §783(a)).

    The prohibition against disclosure of proprietary information and certain other information of a confidential nature (18 U.S.C. §1905).

    The prohibitions on disclosing and obtaining certain procurement information (41 U.S.C. § 423(a) and (b)).

    The prohibition against certain personnel practices (5 U.S.C. §2302).

    The prohibition against interference with civil service examinations (18 U.S.C. §1917).

    The restrictions on use of public funds for lobbying (18 U.S.C. § 1913).

    The prohibition against participation in the appointment or promotion of relatives (5 U.S.C. §3110).

    The prohibition against solicitation or acceptance of anything of value to obtain public office for another (18 U.S.C. § 211).

    The prohibition against embezzlement or conversion of Government money or property (18 U.S.C. § 641).

    The prohibition against embezzlement of the money or property of another person that is in the possession of an employee by reason of his employment (18 U.S.C. § 654).

    This is just a glimpse into the dizzying array of those prohibitions, which apply either exclusively to Federal employees or that Federal employees are at much greater risk of violating. These statutory hazards, such as penalties for participating in certain partisan political party activities on private time, are complemented by wide-ranging regulatory restrictions, such as agency review and approval of outside employment, speaking, and other activities. Ironically, when Government furloughs occur in connection with budget impasses caused by Mr. Biggs’ confederates, many Federal employees would violate the criminal law by finding short-term alternative employment in the subject areas in which they are most qualified, as they will still be on the Federal roles and subject to 18 U.S.C. §§ 205 and 208.

    Federal sector compensation has been and continues to be exclusively in the hands of Congress and the President, rather than some matter ironed out between a union and a corporate owner. The lack of discussion on this point is always revealing, as it shows a Congress that for decades (and until the latest recession) has known, and acted upon a belief, that Federal workers were not over-compensated – only to reverse position overnight without explanation. Indeed, the environment in which Congress legislates on the topic of Federal compensation was and is without meaningful Federal employee participation or advice (and devoid of any employee leverage whatsoever). Federal employees are forbidden by law from striking. Labor unions representing Federal employees cannot bargain for wages, hours, employee benefits, or the classifications of jobs. All of those matters are determined by statute and regulation within the total control of Congress and the Executive Branch — and have been for many years. By statute, it is an unfair labor practice for labor unions to call or participate in picketing that interferes with the operation of a Federal agency. The Federal labor management relations statute also forbids Federal agencies from requiring their employees to join a union and must respect their employees’ decisions not to join a labor union. Since Mr. Biggs likes to quantify the unquantifiable, I would simply like him to put a dollar value on what it would be worth in the private sector to be exposed to the above restrictions, which work with heavy emphasis if not entirely on Federal sector employees.
    These differences merely compound the most critical distinction between the sectors – that many Federal jobs have no true private sector analog. This is a fact conceded by groups such as the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute, and then left summarily to rot. There is no private sector job that is comparable to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent. This general observation is true of a very broad swath of Federal jobs.

    As a Federal Government attorney with 23 years in Federal service, six years before that in the Washington, DC private sector legal market, and substantial (if pedestrian) prior private sector experience, I now make less than a first year associates in large law firms in the city in which I practice (benefits included). These are associates who carry water for the lawyer performing the same services that I provide on the other side. My Government colleagues and I have performed years of uncompensated overtime for this Nation. Lawyers are not alone in this claim. We have routinely been forced to pit our material self-interest against our professional integrity. Most of us have not felt the need to make a point of our unrecognized contributions, until our value, and those of our agency clients, have been artfully minimized by lackluster statistical theatrics by people like Mr. Biggs. Losing an indeterminate percentage of the modest rewards and security that were an important part of the material inducement to work for the Federal Government will be decadent breach of trust that will cripple the Federal service for decades and make Federal workers, for the rest of their lives, virulent enemies of the political system that cheated them.

    Mr. Biggs, I would ask you for one final calculation. Would you please calculate the value of having to endure the officious and holier-than-thou posturing of AEI on matters of which it knows nothing, including my benefits and the reasons therefore. Credits for taking and replying to comments, however, Mr. Biggs. Many of your like-minded bretheren don’t have the guts for it.

        • Unfortunately Mr. Biggs doesn’t even have have his base facts correct. FERS employees max out @33% on pension. The average gov’t employee salary is based on an unequal relationship to public sector salaries. Over the past 20 yrs, the gov’t has repetatively sought to contract out work for routine maintainence work, clerical work and many other jobs on the low end of the payscale. What this leave is a workforce of more highly educated, professional and senior workforce, providing a misrepresented “high” average salary. As a registered nurse, our salaries were, by law not permitted to be “salary setters” for the area (NY/Long Island) – this was the standard through out the country. No federal job is a salary setter, and I would challenge Mr. Biggs to show that in any legitimate database. I continue to pay for health ins. coverage in retirement and the annuity is reduced by 15% +/- for spousal coverage. Mr. Biggs missed alot in his bashing, those of us in the system know that , but need to share that with others.

          • FERS doesn’t max out at 33%. That is just the number used in the example on the govt website.
            His calculations are correct.

            Similar professions earn less than their federal counterparts.

            Most in the private sector pay a considerable portion of their health ins premium. (usually 80%)

    • Similar professions of same level in private sector earn less than their federal counterparts.
      You may discount the stylized salary; however, the fact remains studies have shown salaries to be less for private sector, and he isn’t the only one reporting it.
      Annual increases in pay for federal workers, without regard to market factors, have allowed federal pay to surpass private.

      Healthcare is another boon not mentioned for federal employees while private comparable employees pay ~80% of premium costs.

      Federal employees receive bonuses comparable to private.

      The retirement pieces are similar for private and federal as far as SS and TSP/401k.
      The real difference is in the direct benefit plan.
      Federal receives DB plan at virtually no cost while they are nonexistent in the private. This provides 1% of highest annual pay for every year worked. ie 30 years service with $60k (which is low) = $18000 in DB/year for life upon retirement.

      As far as your claim that private employment in no way can be compared to federal because of regulations, I must admit that I laughed. A lot.
      You will happy to know that private sector employees in many professions are prohibited from and face charges or firing for the following: (if you’ll allow me in layman’s terms)
      accepting bribes, gratuities, and gifts
      drunkenness
      working for a competitor while employed
      working for competitor within a certain timeframe and region upon dismissal
      destroying company documents
      leaking private company documents
      hiring relatives
      embezzlement

      etc, etc, etc, much of the same federal employees are restricted from

      After reading your history, it would seem you are nearing retirement age. Don’t worry. They never cut you off so close.

    • GreatBoo hoo. If you think government workers have it so great, join them. The fact is, most of you can’t because you can’t hold clearances for one reason or another. You see, you can’t cheat on your spouse, be financially irresponsible, lie, cheat, or steal, and any number of other restrictions listed in a previous post. I can refute the claim on salaries. I work with federal employees and make slightly more the my government counterparts.

      • Did you serious just say that???!!! Are you out of your mind, insane, on drugs, or just plain stupid?! Think back several months ago, a year ago, two years ago, etc., when federal workers have been caught partying and on vacation and doing a whole lot of cheating and lying, which made it all the way to the airwaves. where their exploits have been reported a few times on the news. You have got to be kidding. They don’t even check many school administrators backgrounds, only to later find out they had serious problems with molestation charges and other nefarious things on their criminal records. LOL-LOL-LOL. And many of them have been caught red-handed cheating on their spouses, and some even engaged in office affairs. LOL-LOL-LOL-LOL!! So I have no idea what the hell you are talking about. Government workers are NOT saints by any means. And you are absolutely WRONG about. Government workers got it made REALLY good. They have very cushy jobs that millions of good, honest, decent, trustworthy, intelligent, kind, compassionate, and hard-working Americans would give ANYTHING to have. Most civil servants are total, complete, and absolute ASSHOLES who do NOT deserve the job they have, and should not be there at all. It really amazes me how so many of these JERKS are able to keep their jobs, such as the rotten bastards at the DMV, Social Security, H.U.D., and many more rotten government agencies and employees. What is sad is that they are fucking protected by all the corrupt son-of-a-bitches in Washington. You are wrong as wrong can be and of course you work for the them and that’s why you are disagreeing with this, because you know damn well you are wrong.

  3. I’m sick to death of this sort of analysis. Even if it were accurate, as Dick Cheny asks, so?! My antire 35 years in government I was questioned by my private sector friends and relatives for being so stupid as to “settle” for the pay and benefits of government work when I could make “real money” by working in the private sector, like them. I always explained that it was about SERVICE and, yes, the stability. They still branded me a fool. Yet they also questioned how I spent my earnings because they considered my earnings to really be their money – as in, THEY paid my salary. How could I buy a foreign car if I worked for the U.S. Goverment, etc. I moved numerous times, lived in several states, put my kids through different high schools and they were all confirmed in different congregations in different states. We didn’t have boats, snowmobiles and other “toys” because we never knew if we could make use of them, or even store them, in the next location. My friends and relatives asked me how I could live like that, why I would go places where it took a paycheck plus to make a mortgage payment, and where grocery prices were so high that the only meat we could afford was chicken. Well, that’s what you do when you serve your country. If that is now perceievd to have turned out better than what has happened with others, so be it.

    • Agreed. I had plenty of times as a government employee that chicken couldn’t even be on the menu… I’ve been in for 25 years, plan on staying in for the SERVICE aspect. If I leave before retirement age it’ll be for another service, such as teaching (which would cause me to give up the amazing benefits and all the great perks I apparently get every day).

      I believe the main reason that feds are being torn down in the public eye is due to political finger pointing that doesn’t apply to ONLY the current administration, but has gone on for the last 15-20 years.

      I’m not getting rich here, but I do take care of my family, have worked since age 16, have always relied on myself to pay the bills, feed the family, and turned down county assistance programs offered back in the day (stubborn), and just got an additional job instead. The people I work with are not a bunch of free loaders. We work for the good of the people on a daily basis. I’ve met a LOT of people in my life, but have never met a better, more dedicated kind of person than a federal government employee.

      • Maybe it’s not that you feel so overpaid, but compared to the avg citizen it looks pretty sweet.

        Those kind of benefits haven’t been the norm in the private sector for at least 15 years. (ie fully -or close to- paid healthcare, direct benefit pension (on top of 401k), and there are studies that show the salaries are higher for fed employee)

        • average citizens can’t poor water out of a boot- we’re smarter than the average bears frankly
          more of us have graduate degrees and upper level degrees than the private sector- compare us to upper level management not to factory assembly line workers

          • Average citizens might *pour* water out of a boat. Obviously not as intelligent as a Fed who *poors* water out of a boat. Freudian slip perhaps? Dumb ass!

    • Boo hoo. Your personal financial management issues have nothing to do with the topic being discussed. I did not see any evidence offered by you that disputes the fact proffered by the writer.The facts about the federal retirement package posited here are just that, facts.

      As for those struggles the you claim that you had to endure, this tell me this; how many times were you laid off from your job and how many time did you have to accept a reduction in pay? If it makes you feel good to believe that you made sacrifice to serve your country then enjoy the feeling. But the fact is I spent enough time in civil service employment to recognize that it is a culture where no value is added to the economy and there is no accountability for anything. And the fastest way to advance in a federal organization is to screw things up because it is much easier to promote an incompetent boob out than to terminate him.

      • As a DoD contractor for the past ten years one thing has been crystal clear and verified by countless of my civil servsnt friends/colleagues….surest way to be reprimanded or fired is to fail to spend or attempt to return any funds not used or needed from your annual budget.

  4. You have to be nuts, how many Federal employees work for 44 years? When the Dot.Com companies were making big bucks during the 80′s no one was complaining about how much Federal employees were underpaid. We sign up for a life time to serve ungrateful people like you. How much do you and your cronies make a year? Stop the BS, you are just making an A$$ of yourself but you know that already.

  5. It is my understanding that the defined contributions plan is invested similarly to the private sector, with a minimum of Treasury securities.
    The defined benefits plan is invested 100% in Treasury securities, and these dollars have been loaned to the Treasury to pay for current expenses, similar to the Social Security trust fund.
    I have a reputable government excerpt and link that seems to support this.
    Does anyone else understand this to be true?
    If not, what is your understanding, and can you provide links and excerpts?
    Don Levit

  6. According to the link that you yourself cited, a federal worker makes 14% more than a private sector worker:

    Compared to similar private sector workers, we estimate that federal workers receive a salary premium of 14 percent…

    So why do you assume that the federal employee “earned 150 percent of the average wage each year”?

    • Avg private sector = $40k
      Avg federal employee = $60k

      He appears to be adding in for the generous health benefits that are not accounted for elsewhere in the article.

  7. The assumptions in this article are based only on a guess – not any facts at all. 150% of some particular private sector job for example is a number pulled out of thin air since he does not reference any actual set of comparable historical data. Furthermore, he simply fails at basic math. 3 + 0.5 +0.5 =4 (not 5) By starting with inflated numbers and then inflating them further with mathematical errors he arrives at conclusions that are based on pure fantasy.

    Then there are the complaints about military health care being high, which is simply not true. Recent nonpartisan analysis found that active duty military are healthier and live longer on average compared to civilians. The cost of their health care is far less than similar care on the civilian side. The Veteran’s Administration health care also was noted to be less costly than typical private care. All of this despite the fact that they have very high rates of traumatic injuries due to the nature of their dangerous working conditions, such as having a mortar round fall into their office.

    • Right on! You are accurate more so than this over-inflated article filled with mis-truths and phoney figures. Today, while our entire Fed campus in Philly was on “lock-down”, we got to remain the daily target at our desks and continue our work for the nation.

      You forgot to mention the 2 year pay freeze, 3.5% increase in health care, Award Bonuses discontinued and many more cuts coming up for government employees in 2012.

      I am so tired of this subject. Please, get with a federal employee and get the facts straight before you publish an article to the public.

      • Please tell me you aren’t whining about a 2 year pay freeze or a 3.5% increase in health premium contributions?

        In case you haven’t noticed, the rest of the country has had to take pay cuts, no bonuses (lol), freeze on 401k contributions, and are paying at a minimum of $500/month towards their health care policies.
        And, those are the people who haven’t been laid off!!!

        • please my dentist is charging more- the restaurants are charging more- my kid makes 9.50 now as a line cook- everyone gets raises except the unfortunate who lose their jobs- it is a recession for those with a 401 k it is a depression for those with no job- but don’t compare me to a private sector worker with the same job- I KNOW they do as well as me- please you can not compare a graduate degreed employee for the govt to a construction worker or college drop out who works for verizon- please

    • the basic math you are referencing is 1+3+.5+.5=5
      (1% provided by fed whether or not employee contributes, then matches dollar for dollar for 3%, then matches $.50 for each dollar of next 2%)

      Numbers aren’t random. He assumes federal worker making $60k/year. (link provided in article) $60k = 150% avg private sector [$40k]

      Military servicemen should have their healthcare provided free. Federal civilian employees need a reality check and no more unions that can pay politicians for these sweet deals.

      • just so you know federal unions have no teeth- there is no option to strike
        and just so you know the VA cannot pay their nurses the highest salary in ANY city
        do you understand that ? The VA – HAS to pay their nurses below what nurses are paid at other facilities in EVERY city – fed law – they cannot be the highest paid
        get your facts straight- compare me to nurses in the private sector gladly- they would quit due to the working conditions and culture- I know- I made the choice to take a harder position for the benefits- it’s called supply and demand…. capitalism- I made a decision to better myself and work harder than I would in the private sector so it would pay me later rather than now ( with an easy position ) choices people – people make choices

  8. The problem is not so much the size of the pensions, but rather that they can be taken long before the age of 65. Social Security is not available (full value) until 66 for most now. A pension is for retirement, not to play golf in your 40′s and 50′s. A simple change to not allow collection until 65 or a reduced amount if taken earlier would solve the problem.

    • agreed- my husband is forced to retire at 57- forced -we would love to continue for him to work and make his current salary- what you don’t understand is they do this on purpose – it is cheaper to hire the new fed worker at a much lower salary and lower benefits- it can’t be both ways either you pay my husband at his top salary that he earned and built up to – or force him to retire early…. we would rather he work as well- it will drastically decrease our income early; but by forcing him to retire he could sue for elder discrimination – soooooo they pay him his retirement early – we did not make the rules- we have just tried to live within them- oh and he easily could continue to do his job well- it is moving saving for the government- educate educate educate

  9. i am a retired federal employee. i had 33 years of service and receive $38,100 per year pension.i was not covered under social security while employed by the government, so i do not receive social security. i am paying for medicare B out of pocket(115.00 per month). i pay $187.00 per month towards my health insurance(as an individual, not family coverage). i pay $49.00 per month for dental insurance(individual). i do not have any money in the TSP savings plan, because i could not afford to contribute while working and meet my expenses. do i sound like a fat cat that is receiving a too generous pension benefit. i contributed 7% of my salary to my pension during my entire carreer. i understand my pension is fully funded.
    it is not right, especially when you do not have all of your facts right and there are so many variables.

    • As long as you understand that a defined pension of $38,000 per year equates to $952,500, assuming you live 25 years. If you live 30 years, it works out to $1.143 million dollars (and with cost of living embedded therin).

      Then there is me, who has worked for 39 years in the private sector. I’ll get $24,000 per year from SS, that is it. As anyone who has a 401(k) or IRA knows, that resource has done virtually nothing for 15 years. My only “insurance” will be Medicare when I hit 66; no other insurance of any kind after 66.

      So my “pension will be worth $600,000 for 25 years, and $720,000 for 30 years. Therefore, with everything else essentially equal, your pension is worth anywhere from $353,500 to $423,000 more than mine, depending upon how long we each live.

      More importantly, trying to live on $24,000 a year, I do expect to be basically destitute. And, you are one of the few who doesn’t also get social security in addition to his/her government defined pension. Most in your situation would be getting the $38,100 plus the $24,000, for a total of $62,100, or 1.55 mill for 25 years and 1.86 mill for 30 years.

      Two people both wrok their respective butts off for 40 years, one is rendered to a cardboard box and the other inherits comfortable middle class status for the rest of his/her life. This why we private sector are regrettable, very envious and disheartened.

      Truly, I am very happy for you (I know it doesn’t sound like it), but you do need to understand just how blessed you are. And on that note, God bless!

      • I would love to know what you did ? really same job 40 years ? you should have been willing to move change positions be smart invest wiser – you should have applied for a fed position – every one makes their own choices – I am sorry you stayed with a position 40 years as a college grad ? and did not move up or better prepare yourself for retirement – I am sorry you probably would not leave your hometown or be willing to go oversees or miss a Christmas because you had to work or be willing to work night shifts or be away from home 3-4 weeks in a row- smart people make smart decisions It is moral hazard to think any other way; there is always the jerk who doesn’t deserve the job But most work hard really hard and made deals to do so and earn the pension they will receive – greed ! sorry you did not make our decision- 40 years later and you want the rules changed – ugh

        • Jesus Christ, this generation is so fucking God damned spoiled, greedy, disconnected, apathetic, pitiful, sad, lazy, and fucking LIBERAL!!! That is the entire problem in this country now. You’ve got some nerve, I’ll tell you that. Shame on you. You are a disgrace.

          • You’re making a huge mistake attributing that kind of disgraceful thinking to liberals. My brother feels the same way, but he’s been voting Republican for decades. There are a lot of that type on the federal payroll. And you’re right…not only are they disgraceful, they’re a bunch of hypocrites.

      • Not to be ugly, but you had thirty nine years to plan ahead. If your retirement plans is lottery tickets and social security, don’t you have to take some of the blame? The person you spoke to contributed to a 401 type program. You also could have done that, and /or an IRA. Not just you,, but people in general in this thread need to quit bitching and prepare as best you can. Otherwise retirement won’t be very nice.

  10. Since many federal workers are retiring early, taxpayers are paying for TWO job positions instead of ONE. And why should early retirees pay the same health care rates as working federal workers? And be able to keep dependents on?

  11. I have a friend who is an extreme right-winger who gets all his news from Rush Limbaugh.

    Oh, and he is also a federal government employee. Despite this, he constantly bashes the government and sings the praises of the private sector and dog-eat-dog capitalism.

    He makes $90,000 per year and enjoys 7 weeks paid vacation, has loads of holidays and sick days, and has a nice, fat taxpayer-funded pension to look forward to.

    Oh, and by his own admission, his job is very very easy and he works bankers’ hours. He goes in at 7 a.m. and gets off at 3 p.m. and has the whole rest of the day to enjoy for himself.

    I tried to explain to my friend that in the private sector, you don’t get a pension these days. With a lot of jobs, you don’t even get sick days. And you certainly don’t get 7 weeks paid vacation. Only union workers would get anything remotely like that (and, of course, unions are all-but-extinct in this country).

    But my friend doesn’t give a sh*t. Like all Republicans, he has the attitude of “I’ve got mine, so screw everyone else.”

    Actually, I don’t have a problem with people who think that way. Hey, it’s a free country. But when you have that attitude while working for the GOVERNMENT, that’s just being a sociopath.

    My friend doesn’t seem to grasp that his pay and benefits are paid for by the rest of us who are FORCED AT GUNPOINT to pay the taxes that fund his lavish lifestyle.

    That’s just sick. It reminds me a lot of a serial killer that I was interviewed in jail when I worked as a newspaper journalist. He told me that he derived great satisfaction from killing people. “What’s wrong with that?” he asked me. “Doing this gave me great joy. I just don’t see the problem.”

    Earth to the GOP: if you call yourself a Republican and agree with the likes of Rush, you really shouldn’t be working for the government. You are a scumbag hypocrite if you do.

    • It continues to amaze me how so msny misinformed continue to throw out ridiculous claims about federal workers that, in light of today’s economy, particulsrly irate people. Trying to bring about change is one thing, but lying to do so is another. First off let me tell you that NO federal employee ever earns 7 weeks vacation a year. Look it up. Its impossible. The maximum vacation to be earned in one year is 208 hours or about 5 weeks and that is only after 15 years of continued service. Second, if a Federal employee earns 90,000 per year, they are most likey in a professional position in which they earned through competitive placement based upon education requirements (BS or Masters) and prior job performance. For example, I am a CPA who works as an audit division manager for Federal government. My salary is considered “extreme” by most people. However, I have received offers in my field to nearly double my federal salary by moving over to consulting firms such as KPMG, PWC, etc. I do not however, because of the pride I take in performing public work and the government’s commitment to balancing employee’s family life with work life.

      Also, government employees are required to work a minimum 8.5 hour work day and in management positions that reach 90,000 per year, overtime is often mandatory and not compensated.

      In summary, I wish the author and many haters out there would fact check before throwing wild and harrasing claims out there which attempts to scape goat federal employees for the hurting many are suffering through bad economy.

      • FYI –
        The author was a federal worker.
        So, you have to have a BS to earn six figures in a government position? I should hope so! Guess what? In the real world, we have all competed for our positions. (and not just with others in our company. if we wanted a promotion, we still had to prove our worth over someone new coming in) CPAs in the private sector make on average ~$75k/year. The “offers” in your field are probably due to your current employment and all the benefits of having the inside connections. (bureaucratic insiders are always a perk for private businesses)
        In the real world, professional employees typically work 10 hours/day or more, take calls evenings and weekends, and don’t refer to it as “overtime.” It is called having a salaried position; aka career.
        Let’s not forget the defined benefit pension, FERS, that is funded with hardly any cost to you and completely in addition to what private professionals would constitute a normal retirement package.

        There’s your apples vs apples…

        • the problem is not that we have pensions its that the greed of the corporations no longer offering pensions to the private sector worker unless he is upper management – severance package etc-
          greed makes people long for what others have – they could have applied they could have moved like my husband and I did 4 times in 15 years- they could have missed holidays birthdays etc- we even had relatives that would not apply for my husbands position stating their wives would never agree to being moved all the time- it is BS- people made their lives and choices and they are greedy and they could not have done what we do and what we did and they would still choose not to – BUT they want their Vets taken care of and their country safe….. but they do not want to pay for it- supply and demand…. how many nurses want to work at VA hospitals – ?????? most want easier nicer positions… seriously educate yourselves and be honest – could you have applied for that position- were you a college grad ? did you have a drug DUI background ? could you have passed the security clearance ? would you have agreed to move every 3-4 years ? up and sell everything ? would you have passed the physical and firearms tests ? and polygraphs ? were you clean ? really ????? then you should have been smart and applied – it’s called capitalism !!!! the art of the great deal !!! you sing it but are mad at others who could pass the requirements made the sacrifices and did it ! well I should have been a doctor too-but I’m not I’m a nurse – but I am not because I did not make the choice the docs did- I was lazy and took the nurse route – so I should be jealous over a docs salary- NOoooooo

    • Instead of being jealous, work hard and prepare. And, if your friend isn’t just a bull shooter, he should be fired. He hasn’t a lick of sense.

    • Sam, remember to always pass to he left, ‘cuz you’re high. I’m a recently-converted conservative, working at UW-Madison. My car is the only one without a now-fading, “Recall Scott Walker” sticker. (giggle) I don’t make anywhere near $90K, but I wouldn’t quit, based on your misguided principals. (Sobering thought of your day: $16T [in 2013 dollars] spent on the, ‘War on Poverty’ since LBJ. Has it made a dent?)

    • That’s my Republican brother to a T. He actually thinks he’s paying market price for his families health insurance, even though he’s contributing only $170/month while taxpayers kick in $411/month. This brand of human is totally self-absorbed and clueless.

  12. Andrew “Biggs”?? lol Truth in labeling. This is a big article. The big lie! Americans have for the past 30 years allowed their jobs to be sent overseas in mass so the top 1% percent could get their “30 pieces of silver”. This caused the decline in defined benefit pension plan, no healthcare insurance, and reduced 401 k plans. Oh, and by the way if anyone cares to research the man credited with creating and pushing the 401 k plan is on record that he never intended it to be a replacement for the defined benefit plan but a supplement to it!

    Because Americans have allowed themselves to be divided over the Gun, God, and Gays wedge issues of hate and fear; while buying into the lies and promises of their respective political parties about good paying service sector jobs taking the place of manufacturing jobs sent overseas they are now holding the bag and dragging the rest of the middle class down with them instead of demanding accountability of their elected officials.

    If want has happened and continues to happen wasn’t so sick, it would be oh so funny!

  13. I realize this article is old but I think it’s only fair that the public be told the truth. As a government employee I would LOVE to make $90K per year…however I will be lucky to earn the $60K that Mr. Biggs spoke of for the last 5 years of my career. My health insurance costs are over $500 per month for an HMO and dental and vision (which are a recent addition to the federal health insurance) are over and above that. When calculating my retirement I will only receive approximately $1200 per month from my pension from age 55 to age 62…that’s only $14,400 per year just to clarify. Then at age 62 my FERS “supplement” gets cut and I am expected to take my social security which is currently estimated around $1100 per month. My FERS at age 62 is only supposed to be $600 per month. Let’s add that up $1100 + $600 = $1700 per month X 12 months is only $20,400 per year. This is all from the OPM website using the retirement calculators that take into account my full career. Please tell me how $20,400 is supposed to be “living fat”? With inflation I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stop working. Yes, I’ll have my TSP as well but let’s actually take Mr. B’s numbers and assume $6900 per year for that for a whopping total of $26,400 gross income per year in my golden years. And this is living fat? As for everyone saying their tax dollars are paying my salary, why don’t you get upset at the people who are living for free off of government money? I work very hard for my paycheck. Most of my coworkers have health issues related to the inflated stress of our jobs. Shouldn’t the taxpayers have to pay for services received? Why should we be expected to work free?
    One last point. My parents are divorced and all four of them worked/are working now in the private sector. Both of my in-laws work/worked in the private sector as well. All 6 of these people have varying degrees of education. I myself have a 4 year degree. I have never, and will never, be able to gross what these 6 individuals grossed in a year. That pay does not exist in the sector of government that I am in. So, where is the 150% coming from? Are you comparing a $60K per year government job requiring a 4 year degree to a Mcdonald’s manager requiring a 6 month education at burger U? From what I’ve seen comparing apples to apples, the average government worker is not a “fat cat”. Why don’t you take a look at your lawmakers. Lifetime pension and health insurance after only one term of service? tax payer funded housing and transportation making their salary nothing but fun money? How about the fact that they have received a cost of living increase even when the social security beneficiaries did not receive and increase and even now when government pay is frozen…members of the house and senate AND their staff all received increases.

    Why are you attacking the little guy.

    Oh, and incidentally, the pension described in the article is more akin to the CRS retirement which would mean that individual does not receive social security. So you can cut that $57K by $21K per year for a total retirement benefit of $36K per year. Yeah, let’s attack that guy because he’s making so much.

    I’m sure the CEO’s who are making billions, the lawmakers with all of their kickbacks, and everyone who is in that unobtainable income category is just laughing while we bicker and squabble over the little scraps between us. Why don’t we start facing the real problems in this country.

      • BS- I am a federal nurse 30 years experience as an RN and I earn less than 60000- check the private sector salaries for comparables- simply stated if you are a janitor for the fed you are making out like a bandit- if you are an educated graduate degreed worker you are comparable- I know- I have friends all doing as well as my husband and I- all private sector doctors teachers dentists etc- BS

        • boz, sounds to me like you made the wrong decision to stay with the Fed, I am an RN/EMT-P Flight Nurse, 28 yrs experience I left federal service and went private and make on average 140-160k per year depending on the contract, don’t blame the smart ones that used both sides of their brain to make a living instead of sitting and spinning with the Guvmit.. Take some advice, get off your duff and go to the private sector and quit complaining….

          • To be fair for RN they have a “fair wage”. They look around the around and give you a salary that is comparable. I have found you basically make 10% less then the average RN in the private sector BUT the benefits EASILY make up for the decreased pay. I get WAY more paid time off, more holidays, and a defined pension plan which most of my private employee friends do not get.

            Where I am living the STARTING salary for an RN (associate degree) is 60k. As a BSN if I had 30 years of experience I would be making 120k base and with the extras (ie night pay bonus and weekend bonus) about 150k a year. Private sector similar person makes about 170k-180k or so (with bonus pay for night and weekend included) and could easily get up to 200k if they rack up the OT (something that is not possible in the VA).

    • Some how they all have forgot that the time when I was a federal worker the private pay for engineers was more than the federal employes doing similar jobs and responsibility. I worked 26 years and contributed 7% of all earning to my CSR retirement and I have also paid over forty quarters plus into Social Security. Conclusion is that I was forced into early retirement by the Base Closure in which I receive a reduced retirement and due to the double dipping program receive a very reduced Social Security retirement and I pay for my dental and eye insurance as well as contribute $400/month to my medical insurance which is secondary to medicare A & B which I currently pay approx $100/month. My counterparts in private industry received their company retirement as well as full social security along with paid medical. My problem is that I was forced to retire too early and though I was able to transfer, the jobs available were slim and none at my level due to the numbers of base closures.

      I realize that there are many different cases and programs in the private world but in the federal world the cases are close to the same for any job classification any where you work.

  14. It would be nice to have people speak from a position of knowledge than from what they think.
    Please let me know how many of you who are upset about govt employees have ever applied for a federal position. Why or why not?

    Perhaps there wasnt the job YOU wanted in your area and you didnt want to move. Perhaps you dont like the government (but love your country- I hope) you may not even vote. Perhaps serving your country is not important to you. Why do you work in the private sector?

    Now we know that some people dont appreciate what the govt does, but if your tax return isnt in the mail within 20 secondsof when the IRS says it will be there you call your congressman.
    If the VA doesnt schedule your exam within 2 days or your request you are calling DC telling someone how ineprt federal employes are.

    • I worked for the federal government (Department of Labor) from 1981 to 1989. I left because the bureaucracy was stifling and I wasn’t about to spend my professional life around people who stayed because it was comfortable. Most of them were complacent and lazy back then, and they’re some of the most entitlement-minded people out there. Why should they be able to retire on the taxpayer dime in their 50s when the folks funding the bulk of their retirement have to wait for their taxpayer-subsidized retirement until they’re mid-60s? And the vacation days, sick days, federal holidays, generous health care benefits are ridiculous.

  15. good day, isn’t it odd how people always boast about things that they don’t have all the facts about? i retired as a civilan merchant mariner with the dept. of navy. after 32yrs. of service i retired under the old csrs, i am also subjected to pres. regan’s decision that we can not recieve the max. of two pensions paid by the governmet,i.e. i earned under the social security system 1100 per month but i don’t get that, i get 550per month. my civil service retirement system, which is no longer used, is 1900, so that is pretty average not like the very high estimate given above. 32yrs. with the csrs and 25 under the social security,no more double dippers.

  16. The issue for me is simple. I started work for the feds in 1973 as a GS 5. One of the primary reasons was the pension and benefit package. My choice. Anyone else at that time was free to make that same decision. Some did, some didn’t. We all have to live with the consequences of our decisions, both good and bad. I retired in 2009 with a good pension. Now if you want to go ahead and reduce the pension and benefit package for new hires, go ahead. But don’t go pissing and moaning about what I ended up with by playing within the rules at the time.

    • If we all decided to work for the government, we would need a communist society, wouldn’t we? I chose to be an engineer – and I was displaced in the private sector by companies who wanted to hire people from Asia so they would be more globalism-centric. Did you ever find yourself unemployed? Find yourself displaced by a foreigner who had no idea it takes $60k/yr to live (barely) middle-class in the USA? The point is that the rules have been good for some and crap for others, and the question is what do you think they should be going forward?

      • the rules- are simple – I make less than nurses in the private sector and in the south but I chose the benefit package- many nurse choose more salary now and a sunnier place to live and to not have to work with only Vets- choices- I agree if moving forward things will be changed fine- but I am sick of hearing people complain who would have NEVER chosen my job and quit if they had had to perform it !

      • Sounds like your gripe is with your private industry employers. The rules were neither good nor bad (if you’re talking about the rules for feds pay and benefits). They were only there if you chose to enter the fed workforce. If you didn’t then you just went on your way and you weren’t affected by them (Now, you might say they affected your taxes but if we are going to parse everything that affects taxes or costs of goods and services, we would be discussing this forever). As I said in my prior post, “Now if you want to go ahead and reduce the pension and benefit package for new hires, go ahead.” So, thats my answer as to what should be done for the future.

  17. My Daddy was a ‘double dipper’ but things have changed. My husband has been a federal worker for 26 years and he tells me he will get no pension other than SS unless he contributes to the Thrift Savings Plan (401K type thing) which we cannot afford to do. So if we live long enough, we’ll be destitute in our old age, even though he worked all those years and will work many more.

    • you need to check into your rights as a spouse- If your husband is a federal employee he will receive a defined benefit pension and he may be trying to hide this fact from you or just ignorant- Yes there is a TSP but if he works for the Fed he will also receive a pension- educate yourself… you are entitled to usually half of his pension if you have been married long enough :) good news !

  18. I have a friend who started working for the Federal Gov’t at age 18, fresh out of high school, no college at all. Advanced to management, earned 6 figures, got to travel all around the country on the tax payers dollar, and now is retired at age 50 with a package of around 5,000 per month. I wonder how many private sector jobs would compare.

  19. I agree with public sector reduced benefits to increase profitability. Generous? I must have missed out or maybe I am just dumb. My FERS pension payment after 19 years at the GS 5 level (clerical) is about $450. After health benefits and taxes my bank deposit is $260. That is below poverty level. I withdraw $800 dollars a month from my TSP (thank god I put money into this), after taxes my bank deposit is $640. I am living just above poverty level on my own and the only way to survive is to stay married. I will have to apply for food stamps if my spouse leaves me.

  20. Boo hoo. If you think government workers have it so great, join them. The fact is, most of you can’t because you can’t hold clearances for one reason or another. You see, you can’t cheat on your spouse, be financially irresponsible, lie, cheat, or steal, and any number of other restrictions listed in a previous post. I can refute the claim on salaries. I work with federal employees and make slightly more the my government counterparts.

  21. From the spouse of a federal agent, we make a lot of sacrifices for this country. It started with my spouse gone for 5 months of training, leaving me with the kids. After that, we all have to move to whatever city they decide, and from there the spouse still often has to leave for training or to work other cases nationwide. On call 24/7 dealing with criminals, terrorists, white collar crime…everything. Constantly you worry. We live a military style of life, but since we’re in the States no one seems to care, just as long as they’re safe from that last prevented terrorist attack they don’t even know about. Once agents start leaving in droves due to the pay freeze and more generous private security jobs, and something bad happens, then maybe people will notice that it’s not just secretaries working for the fed.

    • Oh puleeze. You act like government employees are the only ones sacrificing by being on-call 24/7; being asked to move every few years; being left alone for weeks at a time with the kids; fears of job insecurity, etc. It’s no wonder private sector folks have had enough of the victum mentality among government workers.

    • I would like to know what civilian on call job comes with the hazards of law enforcement. It seems people should remember envy will rot you inside and out, hence why it is one of the deadliest sins. Stop worrying about what others have because its never going to help you obtain it. And as far as anybody can prove the only fed workers definitively being over compensated are your poloticians. As long as they keep poor people focused on the folks slightly less poor then nobody is focusing on the ones sneaking off with the pot of gold. How bout we pay people that work and stop paying pakistan, libya, afghanastan, egypt, syria, and about 20 other nations that support terror and promote violence against america. Our govt supports this bickering amongst the peasants to keep us out of the real issues.

      • Envy? Grow up dude, it’s not envy. I worked for the fed and 2 state institutions and there isn’t a more entitlement- minded group of people anywhere. And I got news for you, the most hazardous jobs in this country are NOT in law enforcement. And an fyi? Greed is also one of the deadly sins.

  22. what’s the point of the article? Federal pays sucks, I should have become a detective in NYC.
    It’s “highest-paid consecutive three years of service”, not “highest 3 years of average earnings”

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