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10 years judicial service) as a justice or judge for life. It also permits them to preserve their spouse's survivorship protection if for some reason they do not participate in or qualify for survivor benefits under the Judicial Survivors' Annuity System, a contributory retirement system like the Civil Service Retirement System. Further, if a judge-annuitant leaves his contributions in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, and also participates in the Judicial Survivors' Annuity System, his surviving spouse may draw both benefits so long as any service which is credited in computing the survivor's annuity under the Judicial Survivors' Annuity System is excluded from the computation of the survivor's annuity under the Civil Service Retirement System as required by 28 U.S.C. 376(o).
In requesting our views on this bill, you also asked whether its
We have no way of estimating precisely the cost of paying annuity benefits to annuitants who become judges. There are 497 active justices and judges and 163 retired justices or judges, who are receiving continuation of pay. At least 90 of these individuals have more than 5 years of prior civil service and a possible claim to at least a deferred annuity at age 62. The amount of annuity payable, however, varies with each individual case. To give an example, though, for any U.S. attorney earning $30,000 a year who becomes a justice or judge after completing 5 years of creditable service, annuity payments would commence at the rate of $2250 a year when he reaches age 62. A U.S. attorney earning $30,000 a year who resigns to become a justice or judge after completing 20 years of creditable service, becomes entitled to immediate annuity payments at the rate of $10,875 a year.
Section 2 of H.R. 11738 would reopen for one year an opportunity given in 1971 by Public Law 91-658 for annuitants who had been unmarried at the time of retirement, but who had married prior to the law's enactment on January 8, 1971, to elect within one year after the law's enactment, a reduced annuity with a survivor annuity payable to their spouses. This new opportunity for such annuitants to elect a reduced annuity with survivor annuity payable to their spouse would be limited to annuitants who certified to the Civil Service Commission that they were unable to file a timely election under the 1971 law by reason of their failure to receive notification of their right to file such an election.
The Commission opposes enactment of section 2 of H.R. 11738 because it would set a precedent for paying benefits at any time an individual claimed that he did not receive a notice of a particular benefit within the time limit prescribed for electing it. While the Commission has a responsibility to notify affected individuals of benefits changes, it has no way of ascertaining whether, in fact, each and every affected individual receives such notice. The Commission did mail a notice of the opportunity to elect a reduced annuity with survivor benefit to all annuitants in 1971. The Commission also issued press releases and agency bulletins to assure wide public notice of this and other opportunities given by Public Law 91-658 to elect a reduced annuity with survivor benefit.
In spite of wide publicity given the survivor benefit provisions of Public Law 91-658, a number of annuitants have advised the Commission that they did not receive any notification of the one year opportunity for annuitants unmarried at time of retirement to elect a reduced annuity with spouse survivor benefit and the Commission has no way of verifying whether they did or did not receive such notification. In the event section 2 of H.R. 11738 does become law, the Commission would have to issue regulations defining circumstances under which the Commission would accept an annuitant's certification that he had not received any notification of the 1971 opportunity for unmarried annuitants to elect reduced annuity with survivor benefit. The Commission has no way of knowing how many annuitants might make a belated election of reduced annuity with spouse survivor benefits if this provision were enacted and cannot, therefore, estimate the cost of this provision.
In the event the Committee gives favorable consideration to H.R. 11738, there are certain technical changes which should be made in its text. Our staff will be available to discuss such technical changes.
The Office of Management and Budget advises that from the standpoint of the Administration's program there is no objection to the submission of this report.
By direction of the Commission:
UNITED STATES COURT OF CUSTOMS
AND PATENT APPEALS
717 MADISON PLACE, N.W.
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20439
February 23, 1976
Hon. David N. Henderson, Chairman
Re: H.R. 11738
Dear Mr. Chairman:
I am writing to you as a former Member of the Senate who would be most seriously affected by the above bill unless it is amended. Further, I am concerned that, without amendment, such legislation would effectively preclude experienced officials of the Department of Justice and Members of Congress from accepting appointment to the federal judiciary unless they were independently wealthy. The bill, in its prescnt form, would take away contractual rights of those who accepted appointment to the federal judiciary in the good faith belief that they and their wives and families would be protected under the retirement system of which they were members.
I would respectfully suggest two amendments which would not affect the bill insofar as closing of the loophole concerning justices or judges who come under the executive branch retirement system are concerned. They would preserve the status quo (for receiving annuities after retirement from regular active service as a justice or judge) for both those who come under the executive branch retirement system and former Members of Congress under 5 USC 8344(b).
On rage 2, line 5, insert after "compensation"
(prior to retirement from regular active service) (2) Cn age 3, line 2, strike the period and insert and to justices or judges taking office after the later of such dates.
Whether the bill, as above amended, could successfully withstand challenge, I do not profess to know. I do know that some of us were advised, before we accepted appointment, that we would not receive annuities under our retirement system until after we ceased regular active service as judges. However, we were assured (as, indeed, 5 USC 8344(b) docs) that our wives and families would
be protected under our Congressional retirement system in the event of our death and that we would receive our annuities after we ceased regular active service as judges (i.e. retired outright or elected to take senior judge status). As you know, the protection to survivors under the federal judicial system is extremely modest compared to that under the Congressional retirement system.
I doubt that there are very many federal judges ho would be affected by this legislation. To the extent that there are some, however, it would be my estimate that half of what they receive vill go back to the federal and state governments in income taxes, so we are not concerned with a great amount of money.
You are to be commended for trying to close a loophole in the law which has only recently come to light. If there is any further information you desire from me, please feel free to ask.
I would appreciate it if this letter would be made a part of the hearings record.
With every good wish, I remain,
Jack R. Miller,
United States District Court
February 5, 1976
Honorable David N. Henderson
Member of Congress
House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
As a former member of the House, and now a U.S. District Judge, I want to express to you my opposition to H.R. 11299, which would prohibit the payment of civil service annuity payments to anyone in the Judicial Branch.
I am not certain what motive prompts the Civil Service Commission to recommend this legislation, but it is grossly unfair to those of us who served in the Congress, who made contributions to the retirement fund, and who have looked forward to receiving the annuity in the future.
Speaking very frankly, there is little incentive to serve in the Judiciary anymore. Certainly anyone in his early fifties who is thus forced to choose between a civil service annuity and a continued career on the bench, would be ill-advised to select the latter. He would be far better off to collect the civil service annuity, return to private practice, or do almost any other thing.
It is difficult for those of us in the judiciary to understand why a distinction should be made in our case, as contrasted to those former members of Congress who take higher paying jobs in private industry, serve with the United Nations, the World Bank, or many other
I left my contribution, of course, in the retirement fund, in the expectation of eventually drawing my civil service annuity. In addition, however, I was concerned because the civil service retirement plan offered far greater benefits to my wife, in the event of my death. I also felt that I had a degree of protection in the civil service retire