Developments at OPM: In a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register on July 20, 2012, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) proposed changes to existing regulations to increase the maximum coverage age for Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) for children of federal civil service employees up to age 26, and to extend FEHB and Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) benefits to children of same-sex domestic partners. The notice of proposed rulemaking proposed revisions to 5 C.F.R. parts 890, 892 and 894. In the background section of the notice, OPM explained that the proposed rulemaking was designed to implement the Affordable Care Act's provisions for coverage of children up to age 26 (irrespective of dependent status, marital status, student status, residency or lack of coverage), as well as certain memoranda issued by President Obama aimed at extending benefits to qualifying same sex domestic partners that were previously reserved to married couples, within the bounds of present law.
News from the Whitehouse: On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, Pub.L. 112-141. While most of the statute dealt with an assortment of issues such as highway funding, student loans and flood insurance, Section 100121 of the statute made a notable modification to the FERS retirement system for federal employees. Section 100121 created the category of "phased retirement", under which a retirement-eligible employee can make a one-time election to work part-time and begin collecting part of their federal pension at the same time. The default under Pub.L. 112-141 is working half-time while receiving 50% of the pension, although Section 100121 permits the Director of OPM to expand the possible percentages by regulation. Phased retirement participants outside of the Postal Service are required to spend 20% of their work time in mentorship activities, and continue to accrue pro rata retirement service credit for the time that they still work. Participants then may elect to fully retire at any time, at which point their pension is recomputed to reflect their additional phased retirement work. The statute also contemplates the Director of OPM setting procedures for phased retirement participants to return to full-time work.