This study was concerned with potential retirement problems of persons employed in scientific agencies in both the public and private sectors. In addition to the retirement problems presently encountered by a majority of retirees, the science employer's retirement benefits are limited by employment and advancement constraints, differences in retirement plans pertaining to vesting, length of employment and the age of the employee, and personal decisions of the employee relative to his employment and life style. An analysis of these factors confirmed the theory that public and private science agencies do not provide meaningful retirement protection for employees who move between agencies in this field.
The study was accomplished by the use of three media:
(1) research of existing literature, utilizing primarily the library facilities at the University of New Mexico and literature from the United States Government Printing Office,
(2) comparison of the retirement plans of the agencies selected for the review (this included federal, civil service, the state of New Mexico and California, the University of California and California Institute of Technology, and two aerospace firms, North American Rockwell Corporation and Thompson-Ramo-Woolridge Systems), and
(3) A two-page questionnaire addressing current retirement problems completed by former employees from these and related agencies.
The findings from the questionnaire correlated closely with previously published literature on the subject and revealed that the major problem area for persons already retired was lack of sufficient income followed closely by the trauma experienced in developing a new life style. Also, the questionnaire supported the hypothesis that restrictions in certain agency retirement policies (1) hampered movement between agencies, (2) resulted in loss of pension credits for those employees who did move but for which there was no reciprocity between retirement plans, and (3) generally resulted in decreased professional growth which was subsequently reflected in lower retirement subsistence.
Research of federal social security programs revealed other inequities applicable to the scientific employee as well. As an example, persons receiving social security are limited on the amount of income which they can earn without a subsequent reduction in their social security benefit. Also, federal civil service employees not covered by social security are ineligible for Part A of the Medicare program. This program is all-encompassing and a thorough review of it is beyond the constraints imposed on this study. Only those characteristics which pertain directly to this study are included and these are documented in chapter II (Retirement Evolution) and chapter III (Financial Aspects of Retirement).
The recommendations expressed in chapter VII were derived from the research findings and are based on similar retirement programs referenced in the study.
This thesis was not prepared with the thought of being able to answer all questions in the retirement field. Instead, it was focused on a specific group of employees within scientific agencies and evaluates the causes and impacts of their retirement assets and liabilities. It is the hope that this study might precipitate more interest in retirement problems in general resulting in a more in-depth research of this field.
Level of Degree
School of Public Administration
First Committee Member (Chair)
Albert H. Rosenthal
Second Committee Member
James Edward Bickel
Third Committee Member
Cooper, James S.. "Comparative Retirement Systems In Federal Science Agencies And Contracting Companies." (1977). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/padm_etds/45