Some federal employees say increased retirement contributions would be a squeeze

May 3, 2012

We asked

If you are forced to contribute more toward retirement benefits, will you cut back on your investments in the Thrift Savings Plan?

You said:

Probably yes, without a raise to offset rising costs can only stretch so far.

Marian Huber

Bethesda

Environmental Protection

Agency

I would definitely not cut back on my TSP contributions. I came to government work late in life (mid-fifties), and TSP is a god-send for me. I’ll never understand why everyone doesn’t take advantage of this program.

Nina G. Fiore

Burke

Government Printing Office

If forced to contribute more toward retirement benefits, I will take one of a couple of options. I will not contribute to TSP at all, as I will be forced to find a more lucrative position in the private sector.

This year I was denied a step promotion due to me for longevity and service because the budget could not afford it. My performance was found to be excellent and I did receive a performance award. I cannot take another 5 percent hit in take-home pay.

Another option open to me is to quit school so I can pay the 5 percent increase in contribution. I am currently going for my master’s degree. I cannot afford to do both. With gas prices as high as they are, my budget is that tight.

Employee

Fort George G. Meade

Public Works/Engineering

Division

Fort Meade

If my Federal Employment Retirement System contributions are increased 5 percent I will not decrease my TSP contributions. My FERS pension is so small as it is, I need all the TSP I can get. I will, however, have to cut the money I put in savings to pay for home maintenance and medical care and for other emergencies. There will not be one penny extra in my budget.

Maggie Smith

HQ ARPC/DS

Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.

My contributions to TSP are the last thing I’ll cut or reduce. As it is I’ve reduced my charitable giving to zero. It was $50 per pay period two years ago, then $25 and now zero just to offset the pay freeze and increases in other deductions. The reduced Social Security deduction has helped but that can’t last. As the deductions per pay-period go up I reduce the money I set aside for entertainment, eating out and non-necessity items. In the end it means more austerity for me and less money I put into the local economy (and forget taking a vacation, we now just hang out in the back yard for barbecue and enjoy our Zoo membership more often).

James Knowlton

Defense Security Cooperation Agency

Dayton, Ohio

No. I would eliminate my union dues that aren’t worth a hoot.

Dan Ketter

Department of Defense

No, but only because I am single and within two to three years of retirement. If the most often proposed version (a gradual increase) is passed, I will probably be gone before it completely takes effect. In any event, the impact, though negative, will be manageable. But I can imagine the thinking of some younger colleagues.

Joe O’Bryan

Internal Revenue Service

Actually, I took a job with the government for a couple of reasons, one was the defined benefit pension. The job paid about half what I was making in the private sector, but I wanted the security and looked at the adage that the two industries that would never shrink was death and taxes and chose the later. After raising six boys as a single mother I had zero savings. Now at 72, I am still working because of the horrible economy, my TSP is earning nothing because interest rates are next to nothing, but inflation is eating away that and more. Buying power is down and now this administration wants to make me pay more for less, yuk.

Frances Brandenburg

Internal Revenue Service

Yes, I would have to cut back in increments, because there has been no pay raise of any kind the last two years and Congress looks like it will be giving no raises or only a symbolic gesture for the next year or two.

TSP is still the best investment and retirement vehicle around for most workers, but with stagnant pay and aggressive daily cost increases (or inflation, which the government denies is happening), some part of my family budget will have to be curtailed in order to make ends meet.

Since I am putting 7 percent into TSP, I would reduce TSP by 1 percent each of the first two years and hope for a significant pay raise after that period.

Ralph Allen

Army Corps of Engineers

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