GAO was asked to evaluate the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) determination of the cost of the increased retirement benefits granted to Panama Canal employees by the legislation implementing the Panama Canal Treaty. The legislation granted major retirement benefits to Canal employees that are not provided to other Federal personnel under the civil service retirement system. Canal personnel, who were employed at any time during March 31 to September 30, 1979, are allowed to retire as early as age 48 with 18 years of service, or at any age with 23 years of service. Those employees remaining after September 30, 1979, will have their benefits calculated at the rate of 2.5 percent of their high-3 average salary for each year of service after that date. Other employees under the system are generally allowed to retire no earlier than age 55 with 30 years of service and their benefit formula provides a maximum of 2 percent of their high-3 salary for each year of service.
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