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October 14, 2019

Federal Employee Retirement and Benefits News

Category: Articles

Articles

All the latest articles covering the information that you will be craving to devour will be available via this category. From getting to know how indebted our company is to reading about the presidential elections; from knowing about new retirement plans to finding out how security breaches can affect your life; you can browse it all!

For more articles, visit our articles’ section.

Public Sector Retirement, LLC (‘PSR,’ ‘PSRetirement.com’ or the ‘Site’) is a news channel focusing on federal and postal retirement information.  Although PSR publishes information believed to be accurate and from authors that have proclaimed themselves as experts in their given field of endeavor but PSR cannot guarantee the accuracy of any such information not can PSR independently verify such professional claims for accuracy.  Expressly, PSR disclaims any liability for any inaccuracies written by authors on the Site, makes no claims to the validity of such information.  By reading any information provided by June Kirby or other Authors you acknowledge that you have read and agree to be bound by the Terms of Use

Flexible Spending Account Through LiteBlue

Flexible Spending Account

Flexible Spending AccountThe Postal Service offers Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) to their employees.  The FSA program is administered by United Healthcare for the United States Postal Service.  There are a number of ways or portals by which Postal employees can enroll in FSA (Flexible Spending Account) during open season which generally runs from mid- November to the latter part of December with a grace period of approximately 2 1/2 months for those who are still participating as of the end of December or December 31, 2014.

Postal employees can use PostalEASE to enroll in the Flexible Spending Account Program.   They may call the Employee Service Line toll-free at (877) 477-3272 and press option 1.  They may also use an employee self-service Kiosk and choose PostalEASE to enroll.  Postal employees have the option of going to LiteBlue and choosing PostalEASE.  They can also choose the ‘Essential Links’, and click PostalEASE at your LiteBlue account.

Only career employees may participate in the Postal Service’s FSA program.  To qualify the employee must have completed a minimum of 26 pay periods of Postal Service by the end of the pay period of the year in which participation is requested.  If an employee has been in a Leave Without Pay Status (LWOP) lasting for 8 consecutive full pay periods as of mid-December of the current year, then the employee is not eligible to participate in the FSA program.  The only exception is that the employee is returning from military service.

Postal Employees are offered two FSA programs – the Health Care FSA and the Dependent Care FSA.  Annual contributions are limited to $2500 for the Health Care FSA.  The contributions are limited to $5,000 for a family and $2500 for a married employee who files separately for the Dependent Care FSA.
Contributions are withheld via payroll deduction covering 26 pay periods in equal amounts.  Employees may make a minimum contribution of $5 per period to either of their Flexible Spending Accounts. Employees may not change contributions amounts or cancel enrollment during the plan year except for certain qualifying life events.

Although Flexible Spending Accounts do not transfer in retirement, they are a sound way of managing money and resources during the work career.  Many families find them especially useful when they are growing their families and may have unexpected medical expenses and child care expenses.  Every family and every situation is unique.  Find the situation that best fits you and your family and start building for a successful and secure retirement future.

P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

RELATED TOPICS – More Federal and Postal Insurance Information

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)

Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB)

Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP)

Federal Employees and Medicare

Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

Federal Flexible Spending Account (FSAFEDS)

Annual Leave Exchange (ALE) Program – Available through LiteBlue

Annual Leave Exchange (ALE)

Annual LeaveDid you know that the United States Postal Service has an Annual Leave Exchange (ALE) Program available through the LiteBlue website? There is a lot of information on the Blue Page that can help you manage your employment life including a solid plan for retirement.  The Annual Leave Exchange Program (ALE) provides that eligible career employees can opt to receive a lump sum payment in exchange for annual leave.  You can only exercise this option during Open Season.  Employees who are eligible receive the Letter on Annual Leave Exchange annually.

The Annual Leave Exchange program applies to leave that will be earned during the next year.  Once you have made the exchange, you are no longer eligible to use the annual leave.  There are also other conditions that apply.

Postal employees classified as working full-time and part-time regular career employees that are not a part of a collective bargaining unit can opt to exchange the annual leave they will earn for the next year for cash up to 128 hours. They must also have an annual leave balance of 160 hours at the end of a current leave year.

Under some Collective Bargaining Agreements that cover full-time and part-time regular employees, they must have a leave balance of 440 hours at the end of the leave year.  They also must have used less than 75 hours of sick leave during the leave year to qualify to participate in the annual leave exchange program. Upon meeting the qualification requirements, these employees are allowed to exchange up to 40 hours of the annual leave they would earn during the next leave year.

There is also a “Constructive Receipt” clause in the Annual Leave Exchange Program as governed by the Internal Revenue Service.  It stipulates that Postal Service employees are not allowed to exchange leave already earned that exceeds the carryover limit for the Postal Service.

Employees that are in a Bargaining Unit have an annual leave limit carryover of 55 days or 440 hours.  Those under the Executive and Administrative Schedule have an annual leave limit carryover of 70 days or 560 hours.

There are a number of ways by which Postal Service Employees can make their ALE elections.  They may use PostalEase Online, LiteBlue, Blue or one of the many Kiosks designated for employees to conduct business.  Postal Service Employees may also use the Self-Service Phone option by calling (877) 477-3273).

Always make certain your contact information is correct and updated on LiteBlue so that you can receive valuable information that will help you make important employment decisions that will also help you retire well in the future.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

Related LiteBlue Articles

How To Bid Assignments / Routes On LiteBlue

What Postal employees need to do on LiteBlue before retirement

What Is LiteBlue?

PostalEase / LiteBlue

What Postal Employees Should Do On LiteBlue Before Retirement

Changing Your LiteBlue / PostalEase Password Through ssp.USPS.gov

eRetire for Postal Employees – Retirement Applications on LiteBlue

Use LiteBlue to Manage your FEHB

You can use LiteBlue and PostalEase to manage your Allotments

Requesting Duplicate Postal Employee W-2 Forms Using LiteBlue

LiteBlue Program: Log On 3

The LiteBlue Program

LiteBlue Program

More information on the LiteBlue program and continued from;

Log On To LiteBlue

Log On To LiteBlue – Continue 1

LiteBlue ‘My Benefits’ also house additional benefits information and solutions for Postal employees.    In addition to an explanation of benefits, LiteBlue offers a Monthly Planning Calendar that contains pay periods and pay dates and holidays.  The LiteBlue calendar is designed to help Postal employees track their plans and things to do via a monthly planning calendar. Postal employment opportunities are also advertised via LiteBlue.

The comprehensive communications dynamic offerd through LiteBlue continues with eReassignment, allowing Postal employees to apply for reassignment in other districts where availability exists.  Health Care Providers are also listed giving Postal workers access to their health plan providers with the ability to search and compare health care plans and review health plans on a state-by-state basis.

Below are a listing of other benefits and their explanation under the My Benefits section of LiteBlue:

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) detailing account information, fund investment elections and publications.

• TSP.gov Account Access
• TSP Fund Rates of Return
• TSP Calculators
• TSP Forms and Publications
• TSP Information

Contribution election through PostalEASE

• Sign Up/Change TSP
• TSP Catch-Up Contributions

The benefits offered to Postal Employees through LiteBlue not only provide security in building a life their families can depend on, but extend into retirement with proper planning.  All the information is placed in one convenient location so that planning for your retirement future is made easy.  Let LiteBlue help you retire well.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Related LiteBlue Articles

How To Bid Assignments / Routes On LiteBlue

What Postal employees need to do on LiteBlue before retirement

What Is LiteBlue?

PostalEase / LiteBlue

What Postal Employees Should Do On LiteBlue Before Retirement

Changing Your LiteBlue / PostalEase Password Through ssp.USPS.gov

eRetire for Postal Employees – Retirement Applications on LiteBlue

Use LiteBlue to Manage your FEHB

You can use LiteBlue and PostalEase to manage your Allotments

Requesting Duplicate Postal Employee W-2 Forms Using LiteBlue

LiteBlue Program: Log On 2

Continued from Log On To the LiteBlue Program

LiteBlue ProgramLogging on to the LiteBlue program brings you into contact with My Benefits.  Under the LiteBlue program ‘My Benefits’ tab Postal employees can access and understand all the benefits offered to Postal employees.  Again, family members can learn right along aside the employee about benefits and how they work now and in retirement. 

Through LiteBlue My Benefits – Benefits Management addresses a whole plethora of benefits options including forms, health benefits (FEHB), life insurance (FEGLI), retirement programs (TSP.gov) and other topics that are critical in career development and retirement planning.  Review the list below to familiarize yourself with all the information My Benefits has to offer that impact you and your family.

The LiteBlue Program Benefits Management

• Beneficiary Forms
• Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Information
• FEHB PostalEASE
• Federal Insurance Programs
• Life Insurance – FEGLI
• Employee Labor Relations Manual
• Retirement Programs

This is a most important section of what the Postal Service’s next generation in employee communications has to offer.  Everything that really impacts how an employee will plan to live in his or her work life and in retirement is compacted into Benefits Management.  Employees and their spouses and family members have the opportunity to plan at a glance.

Knowing how benefits work now and in your retirement future is what will give you the comfort and security of knowing that your plans are working for your retirement future.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Read More at;

Log On To LiteBlue – Continued 2

 

Related LiteBlue Articles

How To Bid Assignments / Routes On LiteBlue

What Postal employees need to do on LiteBlue before retirement

What Is LiteBlue?

PostalEase / LiteBlue

What Postal Employees Should Do On LiteBlue Before Retirement

Changing Your LiteBlue / PostalEase Password Through ssp.USPS.gov

eRetire for Postal Employees – Retirement Applications on LiteBlue

Use LiteBlue to Manage your FEHB

You can use LiteBlue and PostalEase to manage your Allotments

Requesting Duplicate Postal Employee W-2 Forms Using LiteBlue

USPS LiteBlue: Stay Connected With LiteBlue

Staying Connected with USPS LiteBlue

USPS LiteBlueThe United States Postal Service has one of the most efficient ways to stay connected with its employees through USPS Liteblue.  It is fast and packed with the kind of information employees need as they plan their careers with the Postal Service.

USPS LiteBlue houses the most important dynamic that a communications and information system can have.  It allows employees of the Postal Service to provide feedback on what they would like to see as part of the benefits and provisions offered to them.

LiteBlue has a plethora of information about career development opportunities, revenue and service performance something many employees may not feel falls on their plates.  The Postal Service is somewhat different from many areas of the Federal Government, they sale services that every American benefits from.  We buy stamps to mail letters and other pieces of information.  Although, automation is around and many have gravitated towards electronic mail, the services of the Post Office are still very relevant.

I enjoy the cards my friends and family send to me through the U.S. Postal Service.  It is a special feeling to have someone take the time to purchase a card, address it and get it to the post office to be mailed.  It is a part of America’s history.   Postal employees are well served to look at the revenue and service performance of the Postal Service.    LiteBlue also introduces products and recognition among so many other topics that can be accessed by Postal employees.

LiteBlue is a dynamic communications piece that allows Postal Employees to stay connected 24 hours a day.  Postal Employees can access their benefits profile.  They can view their accounts and make changes to their benefits during open season through a secure portal PostalEASE via LiteBlue.

Postal employees and all Federal Employees should visit relevant information sites often to make sure they are getting the information so critical to capturing all the career development opportunities available and how to begin planning early for a retirement future that is secure and safe.

P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know

 

Related LiteBlue Articles

How To Bid Assignments / Routes On LiteBlue

What Postal employees need to do on LiteBlue before retirement

What Is LiteBlue?

PostalEase / LiteBlue

What Postal Employees Should Do On LiteBlue Before Retirement

Changing Your LiteBlue / PostalEase Password Through ssp.USPS.gov

eRetire for Postal Employees – Retirement Applications on LiteBlue

Use LiteBlue to Manage your FEHB

You can use LiteBlue and PostalEase to manage your Allotments

Requesting Duplicate Postal Employee W-2 Forms Using LiteBlue

Weekly Newsletter – TAX DAY

~~WEEKLY NEWSLETTER – TAX DAY

weekly newsletter

Weekly Newsletter: April 15, 2014 got here too soon for a lot of us.  We were still digging out from under the snow in most places across the nation and just like every year April 15th is here and many of us are scrambling to get our papers in order to file our taxes.

Automated resources will help most of us meet the deadline of 12:00 midnight.  Your envelope at least must bear the date stamp of April 15, 2014, to indicate you have filed your taxes on time and will not be penalized for a late filing.

This year is a particularly tumultuous year for a young woman who normally helps her Mom file her taxes.  Her mother is now 89 and one would wonder why she is still filing a tax given she is living off of a very limited income.  The real problem is that the mom has dementia and is in a facility.  She is no longer able to live at home.  Siblings are fighting over her financial resources and who actually has power-of-attorney over the Mom.

One sister has contacted the authorities in an attempt to bring about fraud charges against the sister who is the caretaker.  She is accusing her sister of misusing the mother’s money, including benefits she receives from the Veteran’s Administration (VA) because of her husband’s service in the military.  Now the other sister is responding to her sister’s charges and has secured an attorney to ban her sister from visiting the mother or gaining access to any information about the Mom.

The brother has decided to stay out of the situation and hibernate in New York far away from the madness his sisters are encountering in Florida.  In the meantime, no one is visiting Mom; bills need to be paid because Mom has not gotten approved for Medicaid.  Daughter #1 initially filed for Medicaid benefits for her mother.  Later Daughter #1 had conflict with the facility administrator who contacted Daughter #2 who subsequently filed another Medicaid application.  By now I know you are looking for the aspirin bottle to try and cure a monumental headache.

This convoluted situation in this family is not an anomaly, but one that many family members find themselves in because of a lack of planning before the tsunami hits.  It is clear that the mother and father had not put plans in place for both of them before his death.  The mother did not put plans in place after her husband’s death.  The children did not fast forward to the day that their Mom would need elder care services and would not be able to make decisions for herself.  Unfortunately, her children are not in a position to make meaningful decisions for their Mom. Their better judgment is being evaporated by infighting.

To avoid such conflict not to mention the cost of paying attorneys and the aggravation, it is far better to plan for the inevitability of growing old while we are in possession of our physical and mental faculties.  Outlining how your business should be handled from nursing home care to burial arrangements is part of the business of the end of our lives and we should address it as a high priority when we are healthy enough to do it. This concludes our weekly newsletter.

P.S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

 

 

How To Bid Assignments / Routes on USPS LiteBlue

How to Bid Assignments and Routes on USPS LiteBlue

usps postal service

The LiteBlue Route / Bid Assignments Process:

The postal employee’s request or ‘bid’ for a posting is submitted to HRSSC the employee’s district rural analyst.  The district will be the recipient of all correspondence from HRSSC regarding the bid, which is then forwarded to the rural unit.

The LiteBlue bidding process is, now, entirely automated, from the creation of the route posting to the award (which is given by seniority) and then ultimately to the necessary personnel actions.  HRSSC relies upon the local office to review all documents, for accuracy and omissions, prior to any action being taken.

To bid on a posted assignment / route through the USPS LiteBlue website you will need your employee ID and PIN.

Necessary Steps:

1)    Visit LiteBlue (www.liteblue.usps.gov) and enter PIN and Employee ID Number where indicated.

LiteBlue.usps.gov

2)    Click on “My HR” button along the top row.

www.liteblue.usps.gov My HR

3)    In the right column under the “I Am” section select “A Craft Employee”

LiteBlue - I Am A Craft Employee

This will take you to the USPS LiteBlue bidding page

4)    Click ‘Enter Job Bids”

5)    Select the “Posting Number” that you would like to bid.

If you are bidding more than one assignment you should indicate your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice, etc.

Enter your preference in the ‘Choice’ column.

All job bidding through the USPS today is done through LiteBlue or by telephone.  The system, which is available 24/7 is called ‘eJobBidding.’  The automated is user friendly and provides instructions to help the user navigate the site and bidding process.

Contact us for more information:

Name :
Email :
Comment :
[recaptcha]
 

*Using this form will add you to the Psretirement newsletter.

Related LiteBlue Articles

What Postal employees need to do on LiteBlue before retirement

PostalEase / LiteBlue

What Postal Employees Should Do On LiteBlue Before Retirement

Changing Your LiteBlue / PostalEase Password Through ssp.USPS.gov

eRetire for Postal Employees – Retirement Applications on LiteBlue

Use LiteBlue to Manage your FEHB

USPS LiteBlue – Change of Address for Postal Employees

Change of Address Through USPS LiteBlue

Making sure you maintain up-to-date contact information with your employer is incredibly important.  For Postal Employees updating this information can take place 24 hours a day 7 days a week through USPS LiteBlue (www.liteblue.usps.com).  In addition to your address, Postal employees may also be able to update their phone numbers and emergency contacts through the USPS LiteBlue website.

You will need to have your Employee ID and USPS PIN to access USPS LiteBlue.  Once within the site – visit the “Employee Resources” section of the site and select “Change of Address.”  Your current information should appear including your Addres, Telephone Number, Emergency Contact, etc.

To update your own information, select the “Edit” button and follow the prompts.  Make sure you save any changes and confirm the changes you made are correct and saved within the system before you leave the site.

You can also change your mailing address by mail.

Send the P.S Form 1216, (USPS Change of Address form) to the address below:

HRSSC / COMPESATION & BENEFITS

PO BOX 970400

GREENSBORO, N.C

27497-0400, USA

By Phone

  • Call HRSSC phone number (877) 477-3273
  • Follow the prompts to be able speaking to someone that would assist you.

 

Weekly Newsletter-NO BURIAL COVERAGE

~~Weekly Newsletter – DEATH WITHOUT BURIAL COVERAGE

NewsletterThis weekly newsletter details a story of a death with no burial coverage. Everyday somewhere in the world, somewhere in the United States a child is born and someone passes away.  There are costs involved in coming into the world and in going out.  How we prepare for the entry and exit can be both joyous and painful.  Not being prepared for either situation financially can cause tremendous anxiety.  The majority of Americans are covered by life insurance and health insurance by virtue of their employment.  When employment disappears, unfortunately those two very important needs of our lives also disappear.

Unlike our parents and parents before them, many of us do not have life insurance outside of our employment.  Therefore, if something untoward were to befall us, a situation of high anxiety and extreme sadness would prevail because we would not have the means to take care of the final business of our lives.

I witnessed such a situation recently and this is not the only situation I have witnessed and to my great dismay, it will not be the last.  A young woman not yet 40 years old was struck down in the prime of her life without warning.  She had not been ill to anyone’s knowledge and in the estimation of most reasonable thinking minds, she was too young, she was too everything to die.  Her children were young, 17, 12 and 10 the ages when they needed their mother most and she was gone as sudden as a down pouring of rain dried up by the sunshine as though it never rained at all.

The loss was heart-wrenching on two fronts.  The girl with a smile that could light up the darkest night was gone; no words could console her loved ones.  There was also no life insurance because the young mother was between jobs.  She was not a federal retiree and she was not a federal employee who had separated from service, but not yet retired.  She was however, a federal employee, who had not met the tenure requirements to realize any federal benefits.

The heart-break of a family who not only struggled with such a sudden and unexpected loss, but how to take care of the financial responsibilities required to lay their family member to rest with some degree of dignity was front and center in their minds.  She was so loved and the outpouring of support demonstrated the life she had lived, albeit it too short for everybody who knew and loved her.

The funeral arrangements came together after much hurried planning in exactly 10 days.  The church was filled with people from every angle – around the walls, should-to-shoulder seating and even the outside steps strained to hold the crowd peering inside of the church.  There next to the piano was a huge picture of the young lady with the great big smile, making it hard to think about the sadness of the moment.

The lesson in this sad occasion is that death is not a canvass for the old and informed; it is a canvass for anyone, anytime and anyplace.  I ask the question over and over again, when is the best time to start planning for your retirement and taking care of the final business of our lives?  The answer is NOW. This concludes our weekly newsletter.

P.S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.
Dianna Tafazoli

 

 

 

Weekly Newsletter-OUR DUTY

~~Weekly Newsletter: OUR DUTY TO THE FEDERAL WORKFORCE

Weekly NewsletterMany of my weekly newsletter posts are born out of questions presented to me in various retirement forums or via email questions.  Most recently a young woman who separated from the federal service, but did not retire had come to a place where some critical decisions had to be made.  Would she return to the federal service?  Would she exercise reinstatement rights?  Had she considered making application for deferred or postponed retirement?

In addition to how she would get to retirement, there was also the question of her TSP and what it actually meant.  She had long thought that the TSP was, in essence, her retirement as a FERS employee.  She said correct me if my assessment is wrong.  She wanted to know the value of her FERS account.  Further, she wanted to know if she were entitled to any of her ex-spouse’s retirement annuity or his social security.  She had talked to a few financial advisors but found their understanding of the federal retirement systems was not comprehensive.

Her questions are not unusual.  Her understanding of a system she worked in for over 15 years, holding a high-level position in human capital management is not uncommon.  The federal retirement systems are unique, with many complex rules, regulations and guidelines.  The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) represent the largest workforce in the world.

The workforce includes Postal Workers, the Civilian Workforce, and those personnel with special, mandatory retirement provisions – Air Traffic Controllers, Nuclear Materials Couriers, Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officials.
There is an enormous amount of technical information in the systems that must be sorted out and expressed in a user-friendly manner.  This can only be done by individuals who have spent their careers understanding the complexity of the federal systems with an even greater commitment to ensuring that those in the federal service understand how their benefits work both in service and in retirement.

I very carefully answered each of her questions in terms she or any layperson could understand.  It might surprise the reader that someone in human capital leadership would not have detailed knowledge of the federal retirement systems.

Federal human capital directors, unfortunately, are not required to know retirement.  After all, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a complete retirement component within its ranks.  OPM has jurisdiction over all federal employees once they retire, not their agencies.

Not their agencies – is the operative phrase.  Because federal employees are directed to their human capital, human resources offices during their work career, the role of HR leadership and HR staff are perhaps in need of a restructuring.  Their knowledge of off-boarding must be equal to on-boarding and their understanding and ability to teach its basic concepts must be prioritized.

Human Resources, particularly the federal service, requires a consistent and ongoing knowledge and a skills level that is absolutely specialized and can only be acquired and fully understood by a deliberate investment and commitment to grasping the parallel of retirees’ awareness of how their benefits work in retirement and the strength of an economy with an increasingly aging population.

Financial Advisers are taking on more federal employees as their clients. Their advice to federal employees will be much more effective as they gain greater understanding of the federal retirement system by participating in seminars focused on educating the federal workforce.

The federal employee who inspired this post should be the impetus for change in the way federal employees, those who lead them and advise them are educated.  Educating the federal workforce is important national business and it must be approached with deliberate speed and excellence. This concludes our weekly newsletter.
P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.
Dianna Tafazoli

 

OPM and the Future – Weekly Newsletter

~~NEWSLETTER WEEKLY-OPM AND THE FUTURE

OPMThe Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a number of projects under way that could bring about changes in the way federal employees view their retirement options.  The federal government seems to have double and competing goals – right size the federal workforce and anticipate future drains on institutional knowledge.

In that vein some federal agencies have announced that they have sought and received permission from OPM to offer voluntary early retirement via the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) to those federal employees who meet eligibility criteria.  The period for employees to make a decision as to whether they want to take the early out is generally short. Currently, employees in participating agencies must retire by April 4, 2014.

That time is very close at hand for those employees contemplating retirement.  It is also a critical time for those employees to weigh the financial consequences of their decision. Individuals and families must ask how will taking the early retirement impact their annuity payments and how will that possible change, factor into their overall financial as well as emotional plans for retirement.

VERA is a way of helping agencies reorganize, restructure, or right-size staff with the least amount of interruption to the workforce by amending certain retirement eligibility criteria such as lowering age and service requirements.   This strategy increases the number of employees eligible to retire and helps the agency accomplish its goal.

OPM is the gatekeeper of personnel administration and operations for the federal service.  Agencies must both request and receive permission from OPM to implement VERA and may not intimate that such a program is available until the go-ahead is received from OPM.  The period of time by which this opportunity is open varies according to the provisions and directives given by the Office of Personnel Management to the agencies.

Once permission has been granted to implement VERA, agencies may offer as an additional stimulus or reward Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP).  VSIP is in most cases the lower of an employee’s gross salary or a $25,000 cap.  The VSIP is subject to federal and state taxes, another factor that must be carefully examined when contemplating a voluntary early retirement.

The Office of Personnel Management is also very aggressively anticipating the roll-out of a phased retirement program.  The regulations are still being written for this program but no date has been set as to when the implementation phase will start.   The core concept of phased retirement is the allowance of seasoned employees to work part-time and receive in essence if you will part of their annuity in order to act as a resource for less seasoned employees stepping into their jobs.  It is an excellent way to protect and preserve institutional knowledge and to pass it on.

It is a concept way past its time.  However, the strategy that would really help the federal service and keep the service from having to create yet another program would be to employ a tag-along program throughout the entire federal service as a standing strategy for federal operations.   Every person in a leadership position with invaluable institutional knowledge must pass that information on through role-modeling, mentoring, teaching, instructing and assessing.  After all, is that not the role of a leader?  The greatest joy any leader should feel is that when he or she takes a vacation, be it for a few weeks or retirement,  is the assurance that the fires are still burning even brighter than they left them.

P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know
Dianna Tafazoli

 

 

 

 

Weekly Newsletter-FINDING A PLACE FOR MOM

~~NEWSLETTER WEEKLY -FINDING A PLACE FOR MOM

Newsletter-A Real Life Family Journey
Listen to the newsletter story of Dorothy and Dan, two young kids, who married and made a life in the city that never sleeps, New York.  Dorothy and Dan had three kids – Anna, Frank and Paula.  Dan made a career in the military, while Dorothy raised their three children, AnnA the oldest, Frank next and Paula was their last.

When Dan’s time was over in the military, he was still young so he joined the Federal Government.  Dan and Dorothy got the kids through school and just like that, Dan was looking at retirement.  Dan took his gold-plated watch, his benefits and Dorothy to the sunny shores of Florida.  He had worked hard and now it was time to spend more time with Dorothy and enjoy their lives.

Life was really good.  Anna and Paula followed their parents to Florida, but Frank held on to the city he knew and loved.  He was a New Yorker through and through.  Then one day life changed, Dan took ill and passed away.  Dorothy was lucky that she had spousal survivor benefits from Dan.  Dan also had some savings that would help Dorothy for a while. Dorothy’s health insurance continued and the 2 bedroom condo they purchased had an affordable mortgage payment based on Dan’ annuity. Dorothy’s survivor annuity was for less than what Dan’s income had been so she had to be very careful.

Dorothy had never worked outside of the home, and had no income other than what Dan had provided. She missed Dan, kept his picture on the night stand, but went on with her life.  There were no grandchildren, so Dorothy adopted two sweet kittens.  Time seemed to fly like the wind and Paula, her youngest, began to notice some lapses in her mother’s memory.  She was soon diagnosed with the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.  The disease was there, but most the time she seemed fairly lucid.

One day in the very early morning, Dorothy’s medical alert button was pushed.  She had fallen and lay on the floor for hours.  She couldn’t get up and was mentally confused.  It was clear she could no longer stay in her home alone, even with her daughter living only minutes away.  The fall caused several fractured ribs landing her in the hospital followed by a stay in rehab.

The family was now forced to decide on a place for Mom. Paula wanted her home.  Anna wanted her in an assisted living facility and Frank said there was not enough money to cover expenses in a residential facility.  The mortgage, HOA, utilities and everything had to be paid at Dorothy’s condo because the market was not favorable to sell the condo.

There was not enough money to pay for the condo and pay for Dorothy to live in a facility.  The savings were gone and the $2200 a month survivor annuity was the only income Dorothy had.  She could not stay in rehab forever and she was confused and worried about her cats.  She wanted to go home with her Mother, Paula.  The Alzheimer’s was progressing.  She now thought her daughter was her deceased mother.

Paula, a loving and devoted daughter and a consummate entrepreneur could not make any decisions as to the placement of her mother.  The siblings all had different, hard line positions about their mother’s placement, but only Paula was willing to contribute financially.  Due to the economy, Paula’s contributions put a tremendous strain on her own finances.

Well during all of the disagreements and the inability to put any plan in place, Dorothy, was given one week to leave the rehab facility.  The pressure of what to do with Mom generated a hospital admission for Paula.  She had severe chest pain, shortness of breath and elevated blood pressure.  Luckily it was a panic attack due to stress, but not a heart-attack. In the current end, Paula was forced to take Dorothy back to her condo at least temporarily until an affordable place could be found.

None of us can predict the future or avoid the unexpected.  Dorothy is an 88 year old woman with Alzheimer’s, a disease that generally gets progressively worse.  There were no plans in place, putting the family in a desperate, tense, unmanageable situation.  Paula, the closest member of the family to her Mother, both in living distance and emotional connection, was becoming physically ill due to not being able to get a handle on the situation.  She had to work and Dorothy could not be left alone.  What to do with Mom?

This family’s unresolved journey is a real-life lesson to all who have aging parents or who will have aging parents.  Plans must be put in place.  Resources must be evaluated and sources of support must be researched.  It is apparent that Dorothy will never regain the ability to live independently again. She can, however, be a lesson to a new generation.  Although Americans are living longer, getting older usually means needing more medical care and help with daily living activities.  The price tag is high and preparing in advance is the only way to afford the cost of living longer. We hope this newsletter was helpful.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.
Dianna Tafazoli

 

Financial Weekly Newsletter – The Right Fit

~~Financial Newsletter– THE RIGHT FIT

FinancialIs there any other workforce like the federal workforce?  They are the most unique workforce in the world with a benefits package that is equally as unique.  As the world becomes more and more complicated, federal workers need to form partnerships that might not have been essential to them retiring well just a short 20 years ago.

Federal workers need to make decisions and choices to help increase the power of their money.  They need to understand the tax consequences on their retirement resources and if they are taking advantage of tax considerations during their work years. Some individuals are savvy enough to manage their own funds, but the majority of us are not.

How do you know when to partner with someone skilled in asset management and wealth building?  There are perhaps, many indicators, but one is certainly when you are not taking full advantage of the options such as TSP and Voluntary Contributions offered as part of your federal benefits package.

Although, the Federal government currently offers two retirement plans, the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), each have unique features that should become a part of your working vocabulary.

If you decide your finances require forming a partnership, you might want to consider a financial advisor/planner to help you avoid costly mistakes that might prevent you from taking advantage of the benefits and opportunities available to the federal workforce.

Finding a financial partner means finding the professional who speaks the language of the federal benefits programs.  Speaking that language requires the financial advisor or planner to know the federal benefits system, not only as well as the federal workforce, but better.

A partnership that is the right fit also requires guiding federal employees through the process of translating their benefits into dollars and cents.  The federal workforce needs to know and understand the value of their benefits in securing their financial future.

Understanding the intricacies and the structure of the federal benefits system is the first requirement to finding a partnership that fits.
P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

Social Security Newsletter

Social Security Newsletter

Social Security NewsletterSocial Security is more than just a retirement program.  It provides benefits for disability to individuals with little income and limited resources.  Social Security also provides benefits to children and support for your family in the event of your death.
Even though Social Security may be the largest source of income for many elderly Americans, it is and never was intended to be the only source of retirement income.  In today’s world of ever-changing economic conditions, Social Security, employee pensions, personal savings and investments make up the average American’s retirement portfolio and provide an opportunity to realize financial security in retirement.
Social Security not only has a responsibility to us in retirement, we have a responsibility to Social Security.  It is our duty to report any and all changes that might impact our benefits to Social Security as soon as possible.  If changes are not reported or if you deliberately make a false statement, your benefits could be stopped.

If you are found to be in violation for the first time your benefits may be stopped for 6 months.  A second violation may cause a stoppage of 12 months and a third may result in your benefits being stopped for 24 months causing a financial hardship on you and your family.
You can call or write to the Social Security Administration to make a report of any changes.  Reports should be made by referring to your claim number.  If you are receiving benefits based on your own record of earnings your claim number will be your Social Security number.  If you are receiving benefits as a result of someone else’s record, you will be assigned a claim number which will appear on all correspondence from the Social Security Administration. This Social Security Newsletter outlines the changed you need to take note of.
Some changes you will need to report are:
• Change in address.
• Change in estimated earnings.
• Receiving a pension from work not covered by Social Security (Ex: Federal CSRS).
• Change in direct deposit information.
• Change in marital status.
• A name change.
• Receiving benefits due to caring for a child.
• Adopting a child who is receiving benefits.
• Outstanding arrest warrants.
• Becoming a parent after your benefits begin.
• Criminal conviction.
• Incarceration.
• Leave the United States.
• Parole or probation violation.
• Change in citizenship status.
• Receiving both Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefits.
It is also very important to notify the Social Security Administration if a person receiving benefits dies or becomes unable to manage their own finances.  This information is important to know and understand so that you do not find yourself in an untenable position due to being unaware.

Building financial security is not just for you but for your family and society as well.  Each of us must invest in our individual futures, and when we do, it is an investment in the future of our country.  Changes may ultimately have to be made in Social Security in order to sustain what it has meant to workers and their families for decades.  Our collective goal is to ensure Social Security continues to be around to protect future generations. Be sure to follow the advice presented in this Social Security Newsletter.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

NEWSLETTER WEEKLY- FEDERAL WORKERS MATTER

FEDERAL WORKERS MATTER

FederalThe federal workforce, including the postal service is said to represent a population of about 2.1 million strong, the largest workforce in the world.  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that approximately 30% of the federal workforce would be eligible for retirement in 3 years.  Federal employees can retire at age 62 with five years of service.  They can retire even earlier with 20 years of service.
According the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) during the first four months of 2013, 60,000 federal workers filed for federal retirement benefits, signaling a 43% increase from 2012.  OPM also reports that the jump in application filings is also due to postal workers taking early retirement buyouts.
We are all aware of attempts to trim the budget and right-size government.  The trend in baby boomers leaving the federal workforce is also highlighting the institutional knowledge that is leaving with them across every discipline.

Retooling succession planning strategies and employing tag-along protocol (pairing new employees with seasoned employees to safeguard continuity of institutional knowledge) will help to plug the gaping hole and run off of critical institutional knowledge so necessary in moving the nation’s business forward.
That being said, too many federal workers leave the service with the stigma hanging over their heads that they are lazy and do not make significant contributions to the goals of our society.  They are often mistakenly labeled as ‘takers’ and not ‘givers’.

This conversation alone should be a great dispeller of the erroneous myths about federal workers.  The conversation should also cause federal workers to lift their heads high and applaud the contributions they have made and continue to make to promote the goals of the nation’s business.
Federal workers do matter because if we didn’t have the hugest workforce in the world willing to be a part of that force, the country would not be able to fulfill some of its most important goals.  Work objectives seem to always gain steam from collaboration and input from diverse sources. The coming together of ideas from the public and private sector makes good business sense.  The private sector can never outnumber public sector resources, but together they can bring variety to the table and build upon the goals of the nation’s business.
As federal and postal employees leave the workforce in great numbers, we join the nation in applauding their work for staying the course.  Federal workers matter!!!!

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

NEWSLETTER WEEKLY

~~
NEWSLETTER WEEKLY- CLASS IS IN SESSION
We talk a lot about what needs to be done so that you can retire well.  We recommend a whole battery of things to do, a laundry list of sorts, because we embrace and share your goal to retire well.  Hopefully by providing some directions and information your plans to retire well will be enhanced.
I suppose sometimes, it feels as if you are hearing a lecture and being given an assignment to complete with only a short time to do it.  Even if you are just beginning to prepare for retirement and you only have a few years left before reaching your targeted retirement date, don’t despair.  As long as you get started, then you are on track to retire well.
Each of us has a vision for our retirement future.  It is our gift to ourselves to make that vision a reality.  The good news is that making our vision a reality is very, very possible.  A 2005 survey conducted by Fidelity Investment revealed that more than 57% of retirees surveyed wished they had done more planning before they retired.  The survey also indicated that 60% of the surveyed population reported living the lifestyle they desired.
There is an immeasurable lesson in that survey for those facing retirement today and those facing retirement in the future – PLAN so that you can live the lifestyle you desire.  You owe it to yourself to RETIRE WELL.
P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

NEWSLETTER WEEKLY

~~NEWSLETTER WEEKLY – WINTER RETIREMENT SUMMIT

NewsletterI had the wonderful opportunity to receive an invitation to attend and cover for this newsletter the 2014 Winter Retirement Summit sponsored by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the American Retirement Initiative Program in the nation’s capital on February 4, 2014.
While we realize that understanding the entire arena of retirement issues, questions, anticipation and anxiety associated with retirement is more critical today than ever before, we still need to take action to meet the new challenges we face as part of the retirement community.  It is true that the average American is earning more money today than their parents ever dreamed of earning; yet, they are saving less towards retirement.
The fact that Americans are saving less is troubling given we are living longer, some experts suggest as much as 30 or more years after retirement.  Given Americans are living longer, then their financial resources must work harder and smarter to outlast them.  The converse is that the burden of being under-resourced will ultimately become the burden of family, government institutions or both.
It is, therefore, a matter of national urgency, that retirement educators and human resources offices prioritize and redouble efforts to get the largest workforce in the world (federal and postal service workers) to fully and completely understand how their benefits work in retirement.
The Winter Retirement Summit opened by Mr. Keith Green, President of the American Retirement Initiative with welcoming remarks from Dr. Luis Aguilar, Commissioner, United States Securities and Exchange Commission, reminded the audience of the importance of savings and preparing for retirement through consistent education.
The literature in handouts also demonstrated that an increased emphasis on retirement is needed.  It also indicated that a great seriousness should be placed on getting employees to maximize their contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), the government version of the 401(k) plan.  Additionally, the literature further stated that a major barrier to maximizing participation in the TSP is the lack of education about how these plans work.  This statement alone simply reiterates the underpinning importance of educating the federal work force in understanding how their benefits work in retirement.
In our most recent posts on the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI), we discussed, among other critical aspects of FEGLI, the need to understand how all benefits offered to federal and postal employees work to build a more secure financial retirement future.  Understanding the TSP and how consistent participation, fully maximizing employee contributions, whether you are CSRS or FERS, are primary components to making your resources outlast you.
We will continue discussing (in many a future newsletter) the many faceted areas of retirement to assist federal and postal employees in gaining the knowledge and information needed to retire well. Stay up to date by following our future newsletter posts.
P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

 

FEGLI – Weekly Newsletter

FEGLI: CELEBRATING A LIFE WELL-LIVED

FEGLIAs I thought of our discussion about FEGLI, LIFE insurance coverage for federal and postal employees, the word LIFE kept jumping out at me.  Although many of us think of life insurance primarily as death insurance, it really is insurance about LIFE.

FEGLI life insurance provides the policy holder with peace of mind and the comfort of knowing that the expenses necessary to celebrate the final journey of a life well-lived will be covered without family having to incur out-of-pocket expenses.
As such our discussion of life insurance is one of the critical components of what is needed to retire well.  We have laid out the types of coverage, Basic and Optional, provided through your Federal Employees Group Life Insurance along with the provisions and the ability to transport coverage into retirement.

There is always the question of how much life insurance is needed.  Although the answer to that question is as varied as the diversity of our individual needs, the common thread is what you need life insurance to do for you and your family.
Of course, there is the obvious, and for each of us, there will be individual desires and personal goals to fulfill.  Whatever our need for life insurance, it is important to understand what our coverage entails and what it means in retirement.  One thing we must take note of is that no increase in coverage can be made in retirement.

If your planning hinges upon needing additional life insurance to secure your individual goals, make it a part of your pre-retirement check-up list.  We will provide a suggested pre-retirement check-up list, things to do before you retire in an upcoming post, to assist you in the planning process.

It feels good when you know you are putting your plans in order to protect yourself and your loved one.  You are on your way to setting the course to retire well.
P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

NEWSLETTER WEEKLY

RECAP – FEHB AND MEDICARE

FEHBWe have discussed a sizable amount of information on the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) plan and its parallel to Medicare.  The FEHB plan covers the largest number of individuals in the world, including active and retired personnel.

The premium rates paid by employees for individual and family coverage is affordable in a highly competitive market.  Federal employees enjoy not only some of the best benefits available, but the best rates as well.

Premiums change annually, along with plan offerings; allowing employees to examine and evaluate their plans and plan affordability during open season.  Retirees participate in open season, the same as active employees, making changes and adjustments to fit their needs.

Many retirees carry health coverage of a higher-tier and cost to ensure all their health care needs are met.  FEHB, in many instances, include dental and vision, and of course, an unrivaled prescription drug plan. However, when federal employees reach the age of Medicare eligibility, Medicare and FEHB draw a strong parallel  – covering many of the same services.

Reaching the age of Medicare eligibility brings you to a good place to begin analyzing your FEHB health plan to determine if your circumstances merit looking into a plan with lower costs while providing a diversity of services. The reason being is that Medicare covers some of the same services offered by your FEHB plan.

As a retiree, your income may be slightly less than when you were an active employee.  As such you may want to streamline your expenses as much as possible to increase your available income.

By lining up side-by-side the services covered under both Medicare and FEHB, you can choose an FEHB plan that does not duplicare the services of Medicare; but provide all the coverage you need between the two.  This will enable you to choose an FEHB plan with a lower cost and save you money.

For example, FEHB prescription drug plan is among the best on the market, so Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) is not needed for most retirees when they have FEHB.

Medigap policies are generally entertained to close the gap between what your plan offers and what it does not.  Having Medicare and FEHB eliminate that concern.  Also, if you choose a Medicare Advantage Plan, there is also no need for a Medigap policy.

Educate yourself about the health care options available to you in retirement so that you get comprehensive health care coverage with little or no additional out-of-pocket expenes, while still saving money.

Retirement can be the best time of your life because you are in control of your time and the choices you make about what your life will look like in retirement.  Gather, analyze and assess all the information available to determine what fits your needs. Make sure you use your human resources office to receive and understand valuable information about your retirement options.  Educate yourself and your family and do something magnificent for yourself – RETIRE WELL.

P.S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Weekly Newsletter – Taking the Fear Out of Federal Retirement

I started doing retirement seminars

SeminarMany years ago when I started doing retirement seminars for federal employees in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), I thought it would be a simple journey.  I would tell the audience how their benefits would work in retirement and dispel their fear.  They would ask some questions and then it would be done.

I would have no attachment to this group of strangers and they would certainly have no attachment to me.  These strangers came from all over the country, different groups twice a month, to entertain the idea of retirement and walking into a new season of their lives.

My premise was not based in reality.  Those seminars transformed my life and connected me to strangers in a way I never imagined.  I have always had a big heart and capable of loving even my enemies.  But there was something uniquely special happening right before my eyes.  We were embarking on a journey and I felt responsible to take the audience to safe harbor, but not in the way I had envisioned.

The first day of the first seminar of many, I looked out into the audience of faces I had never seen, yet I felt as if I knew them.  As my assistant made last minute adjustments to get me ready to formally meet the audience, I kept trying to figure out what was going on in the eyes of my waiting audience. Then as the interactively designed seminar got on the way, it suddenly hit me that they were afraid and I felt all of their fear rush to the podium like a heavy blanket.

The seminar I had planned began to take on a new face, a different direction – not a battery of technical information from defined benefits plans to defined contribution plans.  My audience of strangers was real people, with real families and real concerns, issues and problems with a defined amount of time to bring it altogether and make it work in retirement.  Americans are living longer, and many actuary reports state that the average American will live perhaps another 30 years after retirement.

Those strangers quickly became individuals whose stories and faces will forever be etched in my heart.   After spending nearly a week together, Fridays became bitter-sweet moments of departure.  Through the hugs and tears, we departed with the bitterness of separation, but with the sweetness of knowing we had given our all in the seminar by having presented the tools needed to approach retirement with confidence and courage to retire well.  The greatest gift one human being can give to another – is the gift of knowledge and information.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Not affiliated with The United States Office of Personnel Management or any government agency