Cubicle or crypt? It’s your call!

Most people doing life in a tiny cell inside a federal prison were found guilty of murder, armed robbery, drugs, kidnapping or other serious crimes.

Many people who are doing life in a tiny cubicle inside a federal office building say they are motivated by money: As in divorce, kids in college, house payments and disappointing investments.

Despite regular, dire predictions of a massive brain drain from government, feds are not retiring in large numbers. In fact many are staying on well past their one-time retirement target dates. How come? We asked the question yesterday and asked if anybody had anything to say. Wow! Here’s what some people said:

“Why still work.


1. Divorce. my boss has been eligible for many years, civil service, but his divorce took half of his retirement, he had to put his kids through college and now has a younger wife (not by a huge amount, but she is a civilian and has a couple years or so yet to 62 even). So between money and waiting on the new wife, he is sticking around 2 – 3 – 5 more years. I think he is 62 or so now.

2. Kids in college and weddings. Cubicle neighbor — been eligible for two years or so. Daughter is a pharmacist so put her through six years of college and now she is getting married. Husband is a civilian and has to wait for SS — probably to 62 or 65. So she is planning on working two to three years.

3. Divorce. Another in the office is eligible, divorced and new wife. He has been eligible for about five years (civil service), but understand is going in December.

4. Divorce and afraid not enough money, afraid not enough to do — my secretary worked until she was over 70. She was concerned about money and not having enough to do. She didn’t want to sit at home and do nothing. Finally a secretary died at 80 in the office in Denver, and mine thought maybe retirement wasn’t so bad.

The other side of the page.

“We have two that are eligible this year (civil service) and both are going by December. OutOfHere!!!” Linda in Montana

“I’m waiting for a buy-out — that isn’t going to happen. I’m national office staff located in the field. If buyouts are offered, the “good stuff” always go to those at grades higher than a 13 (I’m a 13) and to those in DC.” Alabama Steve

“I left a consulting firm and started with the IRS about a 16 months ago. Although I took a significant pay cut, I was attracted to the better work-life balance, the opportunities for advancement and the decent pension plan that the IRS offered. Contrary to the belief of many outsiders, the other benefits are comparable at best.

I really enjoyed my position for about the 1st year, but then the bashing and the cutbacks started. The advancement opportunities that were available are gone. The two-year pay freeze will likely be followed by additional financial sacrifices. My optimism and enthusiasm has change to pessimism.

My choices are to: 1) stay, accept the situation and hope things get better, or 2) go back to the private sector and make a lot more money. Unfortunately, I don’t believe things in the government sector will get better for at least several years, and have zero confidence that our useless politicians could ever make a decision based on sound economics. (Cutbacks to the IRS probably have a greater negative affect on assessments and collections than the spending reductions). Although the economy is stagnant, there are many opportunities in my field. I’m leaning toward choice #2.” Pessimestic Government CPA.

“I’m a 39 year, CSRSer at NASA, age 61 with lots of sick leave. I’m hanging around to get my house and home equity account paid off. I see me here till January 2015. The Buyout will probably help in about two years.” Jim in Greenbelt

“The reasons I’m holding on to my job are:

1) I still have two children still in high school;

2) Don’t think I can manage with a monthly annuity of 72 percent of my annual income (currently $97k+);

3) With the high rate of unemployment, may be difficult to find a part time job, and wouldn’t make nearly as much as I make now (per hour);

4) Can’t qualify for my husband’s Social Security (will offset my annuity)

5) Due to a TSP loan, my balance isn’t what I’d like it to be (not to mention the fluctuating market)

6) USDA just offered a buy out for a couple of Agricultural Marketing Service programs (Science and Technology & Market News), but not mine. Even if they did, after taxes, you might get $17,000, plus that would be taxed again for additional income (being taxed twice).

Lastly, I do somewhat enjoy my work.

I don’t think I will stay for the full 41 years, 11 months to get the 80 percent of my high three (which, who knows, can change to the high five), but I may stay for another two years at least (or after my youngest graduates from high school in 2015).” Val in Ag

More to come…


By Jack Moore

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