More than 200,000 military personnel have signed up for the new Blended Retirement System. That’s the word coming from the federal government officials in charge of the 401(k)-like retirement savings Program – Thrift Savings Plan.
Starting Jan. 1, 2019 the federal government will start to match the TSP contributions of active duty service members. However, the tradeoff is that they will not be offering the kind of defined benefit pension plan current employees are used to. New armed services recruits will be automatically signed up for the BRS, and current active-duty members will have until Dec. 31, 2018to sign up for the program or stick to their current plan.
Only 52% Currently Enrolled
Tee Ramos, TSP Director of Participant Services, said 205,274 people had enrolled in the new program as of May 31 – reaching 52 percent of the armed forces. He said the number of opt-ins is a bit below than their projections due to a misunderstanding for people who had enlisted in the service before Jan. 1.
Ramos said the projections were off because they had anticipated automatic enrollments of those signing their contracts in 2017 but deferring enlistments until 2018. He said those that did those were actually not automatically enrolled, throwing the numbers off.
In Other News…
The Office of Personnel Management said military retirees and family members would soon be granted access for expanded government-administered dental and vision insurance. Until now, the majority of federal civilian retirees, retired reservists, military survivors and their families were eligible for enrollment in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program.
However, the Nation Defense Authorization Act of 2017 gives them increased eligibility for these services.
The TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan will end in 2018. This plan offered coverage to those newly FEDVIP eligible participants. Those already enrolled in the TRICARE plan will have a chance to switch to the FEDVIP during the open enrollment season – Nov. 12 to Dec. 10.
The OPM said the FEDVIP has no automatic enrollment plan, which means individuals will have to make the switch themselves during that time. The agency has created a website that offers information about the program for the 5.4 million eligible employees and families to alleviate the transition process.
President Donald Trump has been pushing for a pay freeze for civilian federal employees, but a Senate panel recently pushed back against the idea. The panel opted to approve an appropriations bills that offered a 1.9 percent increase to federal workers starting 2019.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, in a 29-2 vote, approved the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bills for 2019 after it voted down the Republican amendment that eliminated the pay raise to these workers. The appropriations committee on the House Side did not have any provisions regarding federal employee pay, which meant the White House could move forward with its pay freeze proposal.
A conference committee will have to take a look at the pay increase if both chambers agree to their versions of the spending package. The Trump Administration has also asked for a $1 billion interagency workforce fund that officials claim would kick-start pay based on performance efforts and office the pay freeze, but no mention of it was in either the Senate or House appropriations bills.