Federal Pensions: Not What They Used to Be

Federal Pensions: Not What They Used to Be

The opinion-page article ''The Most Unfair Noncut of All: Federal Pensions,'' July 21, is misleading. The lead paragraph asks why federal pensions are exempt from serious cost-cutting review. They aren't. They were reformed 10 years ago and there are now two systems, one for older federal employees, the other for new. Government contributions were reduced for the new system.

The article correctly observes that many federal retirees qualify for Social Security benefits based on other jobs in which they contributed to the fund. It doesn't mention the windfall law, which severely limits benefits for those in this category.

The article suggests military members be required to work for a pension until they are the same age as private industry retirees. The reason military members can retire after 20 years is that they are on duty 24 hours a day for two decades, give up many of their rights, and may be required to lay down their lives. As with air traffic controllers and law enforcers, more risk and harder work is balanced by earlier retirement. Federal pensions should be discussed, but the discourse was ill-served by this piece.

Mitch Barker Seattle

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ''Readers Write'' and may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet E-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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