Cost-of-Living Adjustments and Identity Verification

 
CONTENT
Federal Register, Volume 84 Issue 242 (Tuesday, December 17, 2019)
[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 242 (Tuesday, December 17, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 68815-68816]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-27068]
========================================================================
Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________
This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.
========================================================================
Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 242 / Tuesday, December 17, 2019 /
Proposed Rules
[[Page 68815]]
FEDERAL RETIREMENT THRIFT INVESTMENT BOARD
5 CFR Parts 1630, 1632 and 1650
Cost-of-Living Adjustments and Identity Verification
AGENCY: Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
ACTION: Proposed rule.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
SUMMARY: The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (``FRTIB'') is
proposing to amend its regulations to change the cost-of-living
adjustment rate used to calculate the annual increase for annuities
with an increasing payment option, effective January 18, 2020, and to
clarify its requirements regarding identification verification and
availability of announcements of meetings open to public observation.
DATES: Comments must be received on or before January 16, 2020.
ADDRESSES: You may send comments, identified by Docket ID number FRTIB-
2019-0004, by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Fax: (202) 942-1676.
     Mail or Hand Deliver/Courier: Office of General Counsel,
Attn: Megan G. Grumbine, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, 77
K Street NE, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20002.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Austen Townsend, (202) 864-8647.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The FRTIB administers the Thrift Savings
Plan (TSP), which was established by the Federal Employees' Retirement
System Act of 1986 (FERSA), Public Law 99-335, 100 Stat. 514. The TSP
provisions of FERSA are codified, as amended, largely at 5 U.S.C. 8351
and 8401-79. The TSP is a tax-deferred retirement savings plan for
federal civilian employees and members of the uniformed services. The
TSP is similar to cash or deferred arrangements established for
private-sector employees under section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue
Code (26 U.S.C. 401(k)).
Cost-of Living Adjustment
    A TSP participant has a variety of withdrawal options to choose
from when electing to receive a post-separation withdrawal of some or
all of his or her account balance. One such option is an annuity with
an increasing payment option based on an annual cost-of-living
adjustment (COLA) calculation. Under this increasing payment option,
the amount of the monthly annuity payment can increase each year on the
anniversary date of the first payment.
Current Cost-of-Living Adjustment
    Currently, when a TSP participant elects to receive an annuity with
an increasing payment option, the increase in the amount of his or her
monthly annuity payment each year is based on the annual change in
inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Increases
cannot exceed 3 percent per year.
    When a TSP participant elects to receive some or all of his or her
account balance in the form of an annuity with an increasing payment
option, the TSP purchases the annuity for the participant from its
annuity vendor. Although the actual change in inflation varies from
year to year, the annuity vendor's pricing for this variable increase
rate assumes an annual increase of 3 percent when calculating monthly
annuity payments even when the calculated COLA turns out to be below 3
percent.
Proposed Cost-of-Living Adjustment
    The FRTIB is proposing to change its COLA from the variable rate
described above to a fixed rate of 2 percent per year. The Federal Open
Market Committee (FOMC) has set an inflation target of 2 percent and
implements that target over the medium term. Indeed, over the last 20
years, inflation, as measured by the CPI, has averaged 1.95 percent
annually, which is the expected result given the FOMC inflation target.
    Using a fixed rate of 2 percent offers two benefits. First, the
FRTIB anticipates that fixing the rate at 2 percent will result in a
higher initial monthly annuity payment on average. Assuming an
inflation rate of 2 percent, a participant's initial monthly annuity
payment will, on average, likely be 10 to 15 percent higher than it
would have been under the variable rate. Although this increase comes
at the expense of a smaller amount of inflation protection (i.e.,
protection only up to 2 percent per year as opposed to 3 percent),
using a fixed rate makes it less likely that participants will pay for
more inflation protection than they need.
    Second, a fixed rate produces a predictable rate of increase
allowing participants to have a predictable pattern of income. Annual
changes in a COLA based on the annual change in inflation can vary from
year-to-year. This volatility can lead to participant uncertainty about
how much, if any, their benefit will increase each year. However, the
fixed rate has the added benefit of producing a predictable pattern of
income.
    As with all contract provisions, the FRTIB will regularly review
the COLA to ensure that it continues to be beneficial for TSP
participants.
Identity Verification
    The FRTIB is proposing to amend its rules promulgated under the
Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, to clarify that TSP participants may
be required to provide identifying particulars in order to access their
account information.
Announcement of Public Meetings
    The FRTIB is proposing to amend its rule regarding access to
announcements of meetings open to public observation to reflect its
existing practice of maintaining the annual Board meeting schedule
online at frtib.gov and publishing announcements of meetings open to
public observation in the Federal Register.
Regulatory Flexibility Act
    I certify that this regulation will not have a significant economic
impact on a substantial number of small entities. This regulation will
affect Federal employees, members of the uniformed services who
participate in the TSP, and beneficiary participants.
Paperwork Reduction Act
    I certify that these regulations do not require additional
reporting under the criteria of the Paperwork Reduction Act.
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
    Pursuant to the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 602,
632,
[[Page 68816]]
653, and 1501-1571, the effects of this regulation on state, local, and
tribal governments and the private sector have been assessed. This
regulation will not compel the expenditure in any one year of $100
million or more by state, local, and tribal governments, in the
aggregate, or by the private sector. Therefore, a statement under 2
U.S.C. 1532 is not required.
List of Subjects
5 CFR Part 1630
    Privacy.
5 CFR Part 1632
    Sunshine Act.
5 CFR Part 1650
    Alimony, Claims, Government employees, Pensions, Retirement.
Ravindra Deo,
Executive Director, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the FRTIB proposes to amend
5 CFR Chapter VI as follows:
PART 1630--PRIVACY ACT REGULATIONS
0
1. The authority citation continues to read as follows:
    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 552a.
0
2. Amend Sec.  1630.4 by revising paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows:
Sec.  1630.4  Request for notification and access.
    (a) * * *
    (2) Participants may also inquire whether this system contains
records about them and access certain records through the account
access section of the TSP website and the ThriftLine (the TSP's
automated telephone system). The TSP website is www.tsp.gov. To use the
TSP ThriftLine, the participant must have a touch-tone telephone and
call (877) 968-3778. Information such as account balance and
transaction status is available on the TSP website and the ThriftLine.
To access these features, the participant may be required to verify his
or her identity by providing identifying particulars.
* * * * *
0
3. Amend Sec.  1630.7 by revising paragraph (c)(3) to read as follows:
Sec.  1630.7  Identification requirements.
* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (3) A participant may also access the TSP website or call the TSP
ThriftLine to obtain account information. These systems may require
identity and account verification information and may require the
participant to verify his or her identity by providing identifying
particulars.
PART 1632--RULES REGARDING PUBLIC OBSERVATION OF MEETINGS
0
4. The authority for this citation continues to read as follows:
    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 552b and 8474.
0
5. Amend Sec.  1632.4 by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:
Sec.  1632.4  Meetings open to public observation.
* * * * *
    (c) The annual Board meeting schedule will be maintained on
frtib.gov. In addition, agency announcements of meetings open to public
observation will be published in the Federal Register. Requests for
announcements may be made by telephoning or by writing to the Office of
External Affairs, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, 77 K
Street NE, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20002.
PART 1650--METHODS OF WITHDRAWING FUNDS FROM THE THRIFT SAVINGS
PLAN
0
6. The authority citation continues to read as follows:
    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 8351, 8432d, 8433, 8434, 8435, 8474(b)(5)
and 8474(c)(1).
0
7. Amend Sec.  1650.14 by revising paragraph (g)(4) to read as follows:
Sec.  1650.14  Annuities.
* * * * *
    (g) * * *
    (4) Either a single life or joint (with spouse) life annuity with
increasing payments. This annuity provides monthly payments to the
participant only, or to the participant and spouse, as applicable. The
monthly payments are increased once each year on the anniversary of the
first payment by a fixed rate of 2 percent. If the participant chooses
a joint life annuity, the annual 2 percent increase also applies to
benefits received by the survivor.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2019-27068 Filed 12-16-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6760-01-P