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October 22, 2018

Federal Employee Retirement and Benefits News

Category: Featured

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Clinton endorsed by the biggest Fed Union

Clinton endorsed by the biggest Fed Union

hillary-clinton fed unionHilary Clinton didn’t surprise many when she started running for President and recently she has been receiving endorsements like she is a real deal. In the past week, the largest Fed Union endorsed her and her run for president and they had nothing but praise for her. She was called a “powerful ally” and a credible figure that could help pave the road that would guarantee that the Fed Union gets all its requests of increased wages, good jobs and the expansion of benefits granted.

Clinton endorsed by fed union:

The union, known as the American Federation of Government employees is a well-reputed entity in the federal hemisphere and they considered the rival Senator Bernie Sanders also before making the final choice. It’s worth mentioning here that the Maryland governor Martin O’ Malley was not even talked about in this regard. Also, the group mentioned that even though they questioned everyone, the republicans didn’t see it fit to reply.

The American Federation of Government Employees represents around 670 thousand employees and encompasses over a thousand locals from around the country. It is worth highlighting that during the 2008 elections, Clinton wasn’t picked over Obama and this just goes to show that the group actually thinks before making important endorsement decisions.

This makes Clinton’s support tally to rise to around 12 million union members that encompass around 18 labor alliances and unions.

Clinton is looking set to get the prize that she is after and with increased support from the union members, things are looking only bright for her. This AFGE endorsement further paves her way towards glory and it looks as if many other unions are going to follow as this is a big fish and the credibility of the union is such that people are going to have no other choice but to endorse.

The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) and Self + 1 by Paul Kalra

Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Advice from Paul Kalra

Paul Kalra

If you missed the chance to enroll in the new FEHB (Federal Employees Health Benefits) Self Plus One plan that was available in the fall of 2015, you have another chance in February 2016 to obtain these benefits if you choose to do so.

Back in 2013, as a part of the Bipartisan Budget Act, the Self Plus One plan was established. This plan covers one employee / enrollee, plus one eligible family member that the enrollee designates to be covered.

This differs from other current plans. For example, with the Self Only plan, only the enrollee is covered by the benefits, whereas with the current Self and Family plan, the enrollment will provide coverage for the enrollee along with all of his or her eligible family members.

Considering a Self + 1 Plan

In most cases, changing plans is only allowed outside of enrollment Open Season if a participant has what is considered to be a “qualifying event” in their life. This can include events such as a:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • Birth of a child
  • Change in employment status

However, because the new Self Plus One option because available as a new plan option, FEHB enrollees will essentially have what is a second chance to enroll in this coverage throughout the month of February 2016.

The February time frame does not apply to those who are federal employee annuitants, as well as certain others such as TCC (Temporary Continuation of Coverage) enrollees and those who do not participate in premium conversion. This is because these participants are allowed to decrease their plan enrollment at any time throughout the year.1

More about Paul Kalra, CFP, ChFC, CLU:

Paul Kalra has been providing financial services for over 25 years to doctors, business owners and others nearing or in retirement. After a successful career with John Hancock Financial Services,in 2002, Mr. Kalra founded his own firm, Signature America Financial Planning Services, Inc. in Lake Forest, CA.

In his practice as a financial planner, Paul Kalra has found that when people are nearing their retirement years, they are faced with confounding decisions about their retirement plans, 401(k)’s, IRA’s, Social Security, Medicare, life insurance, wealth-preservation and estate planning. What motivated him to focus his practice on helping people in their 50’s and 60’s was when Mr. Kalra began facing such decisions himself and realized that the answers would have been very tough if he were not a financial planner.

5 Things That Surviving Spouses Must Know About Social Security

social securityCarrying on with your life after you have lost a spouse is a painful ordeal. Yet, you have to do it and live your life in peace. One of the things that can help you fight off the grief is the financial stability you get due to the social security offered in the USA. If you don’t have any idea about how can you claim the money and what factors influence it then here are a few useful things that may help you in taking the right financial decisions.

Unlocking the mystery behind Social Security Benefits for the Surviving Spouse

  1. One at a time: When you have lost a spouse, you have to choose among survivor benefits or the benefits you get based on your work history as you cannot get both at the same time. You need to pick one at the time and let the other one grow with time.
  2. The amount of your survivor benefit depends on your age and your spouses’ decisions: If you opt for the survivor benefit, the amount would depend on your age and the amount your late spouse would have received (or was receiving) before losing his or her life.
  3. Not taking social security can be for the best: In case your spouse has not taken the social security yet, the amount you will receive would be higher as compared to if he or she was taking the benefit. So you should always try to delay taking social security for your spouses’ benefit if you can afford it.
  4. You can get survivor benefit at 60 years of age: You can choose to make use of your survivor benefits at the age of 60 rather than 66 which is the current retirement age. In this case, the amount of money will reduce.
  5. Survivor benefits grow only until your age is 66: If you have opted for using the benefits given to you on the basis of your work history, the survivor benefit will grow only until you reach the age of 66. After that, it will just be sitting there.

So, if you are eligible for both the benefits as the part of your social security, it is advised that you opt for the work related benefits early on as it has no impact on your survivor benefit. Let the survivor benefit grow until you reach the age of 66 and then use it.

US 2017 Federal Budget Proposal:1.6% Federal Employee Pay Raise

US 2017 Federal Budget Proposal: 1.6% Federal Employee Pay Raise and Paid Parental Leave

 

Fed BudgetThe newly-released   President Barrack Obama’s Administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 Federal Budget Proposal includes the 1.6% federal employee pay raise and six weeks of fully paid parental leave for federal employees, among others.

 

Federal Pay Raise

The inclusion of the   aforestated president’s investment for the federal workforce into the 2017 federal state proposal is in consonance with the authority vested in President Obama as the President of the US Constitution and the applicable laws of the United States of America.

Following the release of the proposed pay rate for federal employees, it has sparked various reactions from several groups, namely: the Federal employee   groups, and the American Federation on Government Employees which called for a 5.37% pay raise as reported in the February 9, 2016 edition of the PRNewswire.

 

“NARFE   welcomes the 1.6 percent pay raise proposed by President Obama. For the first time in seven years, the increase follows the letter of the law. However, the proposed increase still lags behind the average increase in private-sector pay, which rose by 2.1 percent, according to the Employment Cost Index, calculate by the Bureau of labor Statistics. Now that our economy is on a stronger footing, it is time to start closing, not growing, the gap between public and private sector wages and salaries. That   gap now stands at more than 35 percent and is contributing to the wave of federal retirements and shrinking number of younger workers entering the civil service, ” according to Richard G. Thissen , President of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE).

Along with the budget proposal is the report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office which highlights the comparative analysis of the compensations of the federal and private sector employees.

Differences in skill levels, complexity of work, scope of responsibility, size of the organization, location,  exposure to personal danger and experience levels are those factors which are bases for comparing the pay and benefits.

With respect to the factors involving   comparisons on the types of compensation, these are pay and bonuses, retirement benefits, health benefits, flexibility of work schedules, training opportunities, job security and profit sharing.

 

II Six-week Paid Parental Leave

It proposes to provide federal employees with six weeks of paid parental leave. Such parental leave  will be filed for purposes of the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. It will also be used to allow parents to care for a new child.

 

While the pay gap between employees and their counterpart in the private sector continues to grow, the proposed   across-the-board compensation increase   is envisioned to address the proliferation of   some federal jobs which are noted as severely underpaid.   Maximizing the proposed efficient use of federal resources will provide the federal employees continual access to their bright  working opportunities they truly deserve.

 

Making the Most of TSP Contributions by Paul Kalra

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Advice from Paul Kalra

Paul Kalra Paul Kalra, CFP, ChFC, CLU

If you are a FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System) employee who contributes to the TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) each year, there are some important things to know when it comes to making your contributions. This is because maxing out your deposits too early in the year could actually put you at risk of losing some of your matching contributions.

Each year, the government can contribute up to 5% of your salary to the TSP plan in a number of different ways. These include:

  • Agency automatic 1% contributions
  • Dollar-for-dollar contributions (on the first 3% of pay that you contribute)
  • 50 cents on the dollar (on the next 2% of pay that you contribute)

While it is a good strategy to obtain as much of the employer matching as possible, because there is an annual limit on TSP plan contributions, by “maxing out” your annual contributions too early in the year, employer matching contributions can be lost by not making any deposits after the plan has met its annual contribution limit.

Things to Consider

When it comes to making your annual TSP contributions, there are several important factors to consider. For example, you need to be aware of when you actually reach you annual contribution limit for the year. This is because when this limit has been reached, your employee contributions into the plan must be suspended for the rest of the year. In fact, the TSP system won’t even allow any contribution by an employee to be processed if it will cause the total amount of deposits for that year to exceed the annual limitation.

In addition, if you have reached your annual contribution limit prior to year-end – and further deposits have been suspended – this also means that agency matching contributions will also be suspended. This is because these contributions are based on the amount of contribution that an employee makes into the TSP in each pay period. Therefore, if you aren’t making any contributions, then there won’t be anything to match.

It is important to note, however, that if you are a FERS employee, your agency is still required to make an automatic 1% contribution – even if your employee contribution and agency matching contribution has been suspended.

More about Paul Kalra, CFP, ChFC, CLU:

Paul Kalra has been providing financial services for over 25 years to doctors, business owners and others nearing or in retirement. After a successful career with John Hancock Financial Services,in 2002, Mr. Kalra founded his own firm, Signature America Financial Planning Services, Inc. in Lake Forest, CA.

In his practice as a financial planner, Paul Kalra has found that when people are nearing their retirement years, they are faced with confounding decisions about their retirement plans, 401(k)’s, IRA’s, Social Security, Medicare, life insurance, wealth-preservation and estate planning. What motivated him to focus his practice on helping people in their 50’s and 60’s was when Mr. Kalra began facing such decisions himself and realized that the answers would have been very tough if he were not a financial planner.

THE TSP STEPS UP FOR THE MILITARY by Dianna Tafazoli

military pay

Many individuals go into the military but do not retire or serve a full 20 years, the time usually required to retire and have a pension.  Those leaving the service before that time are left without a pension.  The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is estimated to add 250,000 military personnel each year to the rolls starting in 2018.  New troops to the military will be automatically signed up to the TSP starting January 1, 2018.  This will allow the troops the same level of participation as other TSP participants.

More than 83% of military personnel do not have retirement and by participating in the TSP, the retirement dynamics could change for military personnel who certainly need security in retirement.  The TSP has more than 4.7 million participants.  Adding the military personnel to its rolls will more than  strengthen the TSP and give the military the kind of added protection they need in retirement.

Often those military personnel who do have retirement of 20 years are young enough to go into another career.  They receive a monthly pension upon retirement or have the option of receiving a lump sum.  Many times troops use the lump sum money to make investments or purchases that might not be wise and find themselves still without the protection needed in retirement.

It is a good time for the Department of Defense to begin educating the military forces about the TSP and how it can help to ensure a safe and secure retirement future.

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

Dianna Tafazoli

Why should every young person rely on TSP?

TSP which is better known as Thrift Savings Plan is a long-term retirement plan that helps you to retire in comfort. As a part of this scheme, you are allowed to invest a certain amount of money from your individual funds (F, G, I, C and S) and get it back when you retire. You also have the option of choosing whether you want to pay tax on the money you are investing now or you can choose to pay it when you finally withdraw it from the amount.

Choosing TSP at a Young Age – Wise or Foolish?

If you are wondering that why anyone should choose TSP at a young age, then here’s a list of reasons that may be useful.

  • Saves You from Stress– The first reason is quite obvious. If you invest in a good investment plan now, you will not have to worry about your finances a lot. The money you are investing in this scheme would always be there to help you when you are old and need money for your day to day expenses.
  • Career Liberty– When you invest in this plan, you would have the liberty to choose any career path you might like. There will be no restrictions on staying to only a single career path with this scheme. So, no pressure of keeping your job will be there. If keeping a job or straight career path has become tougher for you in the current global economic conditions, it’s the right time to think of an investment plan like this.
  • Low Costs: This scheme is also very low cost. The TSP C fund charges only a fee of 29 cents per 1000 dollars invested by you. People who are not too fond of investment schemes that have an exorbitant fee should opt for this scheme. Young people should especially be fond of the low fee because when you are young, the fee may not matter much but when you get old, you will be proud of your decision of saving every penny.

To conclude, it can be said that TSP is really useful for young people as it provides many benefits with low risks. If you are willing to explore more about this plan, you should take help of an expert before deciding the amount of money you can invest so that your financial position stays comfortable. After all, it’s not wise to live too scarcely in exchange for enjoying the financial benefits at the time of retirement, is it?

VA employees to get relocation funds

va employees relocation

The department of Veterans Affairs is one that is never completely out of the news. The officials of the organization might just have to part with thousands of dollars by giving them to two of the demoted executive officers who were allegedly linked to have received many thousands of dollars in shady relocation funds.

VA employees to get relocation funds:

During last week, some of the officials from the organization have given statements about this news. They said that two executive directors have been made to resign pertaining to one of the latest scandal that the department has to endure. These two directors are Diana Rubens who was the director of the Philly Regional office of the Veterans Benefits Administration and Kimberly Graves who was the director in Minnesota.

However the relocation funds that these two are going to get are handsome if not anything else. The total amount that Rubens is set to receive is around 275 thousand. She has been moved from DC to Philly. This will compensate her for the losses she had to endure while selling her house quickly as well. The amount for Graves was around 130 thousand. Investigators have found that both of the directors were trying to illegally find ways to get good pays while working lesser hours. Critics and lawmakers are requesting formal incarceration of both the alleged culprits.

Situations like these require the utmost sincerity and dedication of lawmakers and judges to assess appropriately. If adequate care is not taken while making sure that the culprits not only receive their just punishment but also serve as a source of enlightenment of the rest of the employees, then matters like these can get out of hand. Here’s hoping that things work out properly for all of the parties involved with the least amount of damage.

Gender pay gap targeted by Obama

gender pay gapPresident Obama has always been against the huge pay gap that exists between the incomes of the employees of the private sector and the Federal Government. He has been taking steps in this regard for quite some time now and this past week he laid out some new regulations that would require every big enterprise to report the incomes of employees based on ethnicity, gender and race. This would help set up the federal government to monitor the pay gaps and disparities that have continued to exist.

Obama wants pay gap to end:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is provided with the data and tasked with the responsibility of looking into this matter. The agency will target all the firms that have been allegedly paying women lesser than they pay their cross-gender counterparts. Lawsuits are also in place in this regard and the names of the companies will also be publicly disclosed as an aftermath. This would also be the case if there are any disparities between minorities and whites.

As already mentioned, since the beginning of his administration, Obama has been against the huge pay gaps that exist. Despite his efforts, the average compensation across the two genders hasn’t really changed over the past 7 years. When Obama took control, women made 77 cents for every dollar men made and now the figure has changed to 79.

Obama has repeatedly stressed that this whole situation is not how the modern world should be for women. He considers his own daughters to be at threat of not getting the opportunities that they deserve just because of gender disparities.

While there are issues that will only be resolved over time, the efforts of the President in this regard are clearly of great substance and we can hope for some positive results soon.

How to make your retirement savings plan risk-free

retirement savingsRetirement plans are talked about a lot these days in workplaces and between federal employees. A good retirement savings plan can go a long way in making a retiree live a prosperous life. Some workspaces provide the facility to invest in a plan automatically but participation is only one step in the right direction. Another thing to remember and pay heed to is the risk management that’s essential. Following are some of the reasons how you should tackle the risks that you might encounter:

Make your retirement savings plan risk-free:

  1. How risk tolerant are you?

You are going to have to deal with some degree of risk no matter what the nature of your investment might be. You need be self-aware firstly and this will allow you to choose the investment plan that suits your nature best. You might also be provided with some tools to manage your risk tolerance potential as well.

  1. Diversity:

Diversification is always desirable. Everybody can benefit from it. Don’t put all of your investments in to one plan and always try to consider a varying mixture of bonds, cash and stocks.

  1. Regular maintenance:

Maintenance needs to be done regularly as well. IF you need to make sure that you don’t have to deal with any undesirable happening at any time, then you need to make sure that you keep your eyes open and not be naïve all the time.

  1. Allocate your assets properly:

Always allocate your assets in the best way possible. There are a lot of categories available to invest in and this requires you to divide your assets accordingly.

Savings plan are good for every employee but at times they can also end up hurting you so it’s always recommended to pay proper heed to risk maintenance in this regard.

Federal employees might have better long term care premiums now

The federal employees of the country might be in for a real treat. The long-term care insurance program has premiums for the retired and contemporary servants of the federal government and these premiums are all set to increase come the end of this year; well for most of the enrolled people at least. This was made public by the government this past week; the exact date and the increased amounts are yet to be shared.

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES WILL GET INCREASED PREMIUMS:

OPM or the office of personnel management presented John Hancock Life and Health Insurance Company a rejuvenated 7-year contract and they would now be responsible for administering the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. This program will be providing living assistance along with in-home nursing benefits for those people that are unable to fully take care of themselves pertaining to any physical or mental disabilities.
The press secretary for the organization said, “While details about the rates for current enrollees are still being finalized, it is expected that rates will increase as is occurring across the industry. To address the expected increases, OPM is working with John Hancock to ensure that whenever possible, policyholders will be offered different policy options to help mitigate or offset the effects of any increase they may experience. The new rate change will take effect no earlier than Fall 2016. We will have more information about the specifics in the near future,”

The coverage will be applicable to all the retired officials along with the federal employees and some of the family members. Military personnel, military retirees and their family members are also eligible. This makes the total count to be around 274 thousand people. There is an underwriting process that is needed to get enrolled; eligible candidates can apply at any time.

Theranos lab is a jeopardy to patient safety, says the Government

theranosThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services has always been vigilant in making judgements about various medical centers across the country and recently they have ruled the Theranos Facility in Newark, California is posing an “immediate jeopardy to the safety of patients”. A letter has been sent to the company in this regard assigning them 10 days to improve the lab and ensure “acceptable evidence of correction”

Theranos lab under scrutiny:

The document lists down a lot of problems and probably the most significant one being the one with the laboratory director. Apart from him, the technical supervisor and the analytic systems of the lab have all been deemed incapable of performing standard procedures. This has all been concluded after the department made inspections in December. There has not been much explanations associated with the discoveries as presented by the department but condition level deficiencies have been the biggest culprits in this regard.

The lab could even lost its certification if it doesn’t take immediate correctional actions and that would mean that the Theranos lab would not be able to perform any tests. CMS can also decide upon fining the lab up to 10 thousand dollars per day.

Even though there are concerns regarding the lab that do need correction, we still feel that they could have been provided with a little over 10 days to make the required changes. The administration of the lab has ascertained that they realize they have made some mistakes and there are some infrastructural changes that are needed but they require some more time to make all the corrections. They have ensured CMS that their efforts are in full flow and they will try their best to meet the deadline but if they don’t, we certainly hope that they get an extension to right their wrong.

Federal government advised to establish a Zika Protection Plan

zika-self-protection-guidelinesCheck Schumer who is a New York based US senator is of the view point that the Americans need to be very concerned about the Zika virus and has urged the federal government to take the mater very seriously and subsequently launch a plan in the bid to contain it.

Form a plan to contain the Zika Virus, says Schumer

Already around 5 people in New York and around 30 in many other states have been infected, early reports indicate. Many health experts have said that the virus finds its origins in South America and the culprit for its transmission is allegedly the Asian Tiger mosquito, Schumer still believes that the virus won’t have many problems in spreading across the country. He backed this argument by saying that the specific mosquito is indigenous in the US.

He further said that if there isn’t a protective plan launched by the government, the outbreak could happens as soon as the coming summer. The “three point plan” proposed by the Senator is what he believes will fight the virus with full force. He has urged the government to formulate the plan before we reach the summer months and to start the vaccination process preferably by the end of the year.

While the Senator is only talking sense, the initiatives that he expects the federal government to take aren’t likely to be undertaken in the near future. Many reports do indicate that the virus can prove to be a big threat to the country and we hope that the authorities look in to the matter before it develops into something that can’t be contained. The protective plan proposed by Check Schumer could go a long way in ensuring the safety and good health of millions of Americans across the country and should be given immediate attention.

 

Police retirement benefits need to be restored

police retirement benefitsThe Utah Legislature is now in session and the legislators will do themselves and the general public a lot of good if they urge the Utah Retirement board to go back on their previously formed decision concerning the retirement benefits of law enforcement and correctional officers and reverse it.

Restore the police retirement benefits:

The concerned officers are servants of the society and they need to be compensated accordingly for their valour and service. Previously, they were liable to achieve retirement upon 20 years of service and then receive 50 percent of their last pay. The new plan, that is regarding the police and other law enforcement officials requires agencies to hire qualified men and women and make them work at-least 25 years before they can get retirement. Also, they would now only be liable to receive around 37.5 percent.

This decision is not the ideal way of thanking the men and women who took upon the responsibility of wearing a badge with pride and honour. The final decision lies in the hands of the board but it’s the legislators’ responsibility to make their voices heard to the board and possibly restore the retirement benefits that the officers deserve.

 

How Obama plans to change retirement accounts

President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call from the Oval Office, Monday, June 8, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.This official White House photograph is being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way or used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

2015 saw the introduction of a new retirement account by the name of myRA and there was a lot talked about the account as well. In the budget that is set to hit center stage in 2017, President Obama plans on making some changes in the retirement accounts as well:

How retirement accounts will change in 2017:

  1. Automatic IRAs: Employees are almost all the times automatically added to the workspace’s 401(k) plan unless they vote out of it. In the coming budget, the President intends to automatically enrol all of the employees into individual retirement accounts. This is indeed a great initiative.
  2. Employers will have larger tax breaks: Small businesses and their owners are liable to receive tax credit whenever they set up a new retirement plan. The President wants to triple this credit and make the amount go up to 1500 dollars per year for as much as 3 years for small companies that offer retirement plans.
  3. Port your benefits: The budget will also make the proposal to allow the funding of pilot programs that will be helpful in making benefits portable for those people who would like to change jobs.
  4. Participate part time: Employers will have the authority to not include the part-time employees in the retirement plans of the country. To be considered eligible for a retirement plan, you would have to work at-least 500 hours per year for 3 or more years.
  5. 401(k) plans but pooled: Small businesses find it excessively hard to set up and then manage the 401(k) plans. Currently employers that have a “common band” can establish 401(k) plans. Obama intends to remove the common bond requirement.

These alterations are looked forward to by many of the retirees and they can help the federal government in making the post-retirement lives of retirees a lot better.

No further action against General David Petraeus

MTE5NTU2MzE1OTMxOTAzNDk5Ashton Carter who is the Defense Secretary has made the decision regarding the case of David Petraeus. He has indicated that there will not be any further actions taken by the Department against the retired General. This was indicated by a letter that was received by CNN this past week.

No more actions against David Petraeus:

The letter was meant to be received by Senator John McCain who is an Arizona Republican and also the Senate Armed Service Committee chairman.

The options that were available at Carter’s disposal were the following:

  1. Demote Petraeus to a 3-star general from a 4-star general. This would of course have also affected his retirement salary.
  2. Not make the demotion decision and allow David to enjoy the complete list of retirement benefits that he will now be set to achieve.

The letter’s credibility was confirmed by an official of the Defense department but there were no further elaborations made in this regard.

The whole situation developed when David acknowledged whilst in court proceedings that he provided Paula Broadwell access to classified material. Along with this, he also mentioned that he was in a personal relationship with the author. David Petraeus will still remain responsible for any wrongdoing that he might have done while being an active servant of the department.

 

Flint To Be Ordered To Get Lead Pipes Replaced

flint water scandalThe water contamination scandal that took place in Flint has been among the news for quite some time now. It has also led to a lot of legal actions being taken but this new lawsuit that you are about to know about can be the one the administration would have feared the most about. An advocacy group coalition claim that the Flint officials made a US federal Safe Drinking Water Act violation by making the drinking water source switch. This could entail the ordering of lead pipe infrastructure replacement with immediate effect.

Flint to replace the lead pipes:

Dimple Chaudhary, who is a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said that this urge to make a federal court intervene is justified because the Flint people can’t afford another miscalculation made by the government agencies who effectively paved the road towards infrastructure devastation and the consequent water contamination. Flint resident Melissa Mays, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the ACLU and NRDC formed the coalition that filed the complaint. This lawsuit is different particularly because it’s objective is to introduce the role of federal government and not just earn monetary damage compensations.

Kristi Pullen, who is a scientist at the NRDS explained that Flint has been susceptible to damage particularly because around 40 percent of the total population resides below the poverty line which increases their likeliness to develop health problems. The illiteracy rate is also high and a large percentage of the population comprises of children that are between the ages of 5 and 16; making them more vulnerable to get poisoned by lead. Also, there are a lot of kids in Flint that have approximately tripled their blood lead levels over the past few years. This all amalgamates to form an alarming situation in need of attention.

 

Congress, the Last Battle for Women in Every Combat Role

U.S. Southern Command Gen. John F. Kelly

Four F-15 Eagle pilots from the 3rd Wing walk to their respective jets at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 5, for the fini flight of Maj. Andrea Misener (far left). To her right are Capt. Jammie Jamieson, Maj. Carey Jones and Capt. Samantha Weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown)
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown)

U.S. Southern Command Gen. John F. Kelly closed out his 45 year Marine Corps career by ringing a bell that he wants heard on Capitol Hill. It came at his last press conference from the Pentagon when asked to comment on Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s planned implementation that every combat role without exception be opened to women.

Kelly responded that the only thing that should matter is what makes “us more lethal on the battlefield?” He expounded his answer by attacking the possibility of lowering standards in these roles in the future. Even though leaders and Congress have said standards will be kept high Kelly has one fear.

As women move into these roles, there will be questions by leaders and Congress why they are not moving up the ranks, receiving promotions or staying in these roles. This may inevitably lead to a lowering of the standards to make equality in leadership. He states “it will be very, very difficult to have any… real numbers come into the infantry or the Rangers or the Navy SEALs.” U.S. Southern Command Gen. John F. Kelly

Kelly further attacked those wanting to empower women through this agenda-priority in Washington stating it will lead to a lower of combat standards, not now, but at some point in the future.

On the other side of this conversation is one outspoken proponent of the Carter’s proposal, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, democrat for Illinois. As a retired Army National Guard Officer, Duckworth lost both legs and partial use of an arm while piloting a Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq.

Duckworth states “none of the women who are going to apply [and] meet the standards to serve in these units want the units to be less capable or less deadly.” She further stated that she is not surprised about a General stating comments along the lines of Kelly.

Duckworth admits not being able to make Ranger school, but knows there are a lot of guys that couldn’t either. “Whatever percentage of women can, even if it’s two percent, let them do the job!”

The discussion over skill exemptions put forth from the Marine Corps, the largest critic and naysayer about fully open and integrated gender training and combat roles, now goes before Congress for final decisions.

However even in Congress the debate is split between those that want to slightly modify Carter’s no-exception policy in opening all combat roles to woman and those that want all roles open to women that have the physical and mental toughness to do the job.

Currently about 10% of all military positions are closed to females totally almost 220,000 jobs. These positions are mainly infantry, reconnaissance, armor, and certain special operations units. So far the Marine Corps is the only military division to seek a skills-exemption for some front-line combat skill positions from gender integration arguing mixed gender units would be less capable in ground combat.

Even Duckworth admits that a women would need to be able to drag a 250lbs soldier (fully geared) while returning fire from their weapon to be able to meet the actual demands of ground combat, but agrees “If you can, and you’re ready to lay down your life for your country, good for you. Go do it.”

 

Will TSP be effected by American Savings Act?

The TSP could be closely linked to the new system that will be created once the recent developments regarding the American Savings Act gets put into place. As we mentioned in the previous posts we made, a system that will be identical to the TSP is to be developed and a bill regarding it has already been proposed. It will be another way for the Americans who plan on making retirement savings to actually set up accounts and do so.

Will TSP be affected by the new system?

TSP could be one of the organizations whose proceedings can get affected by this new system. The FRTIB or the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is the agency that manages the plan and it previously was of the idea that TSP should not be applicable to all the working Americans. The reason behind this isn’t hard to grasp however. The TSP has a very simplistic design with just 5 core funds and 5 lifecycle funds.

While the ASA in theory intends to have as low expenses as that of TSP, the ability for the new applicants to get the same low fees is at risk of getting changed. Once TSP gets opened to over 70 million Americans that have still not got any retirement coverage, rudimentary alterations would have to be made to the TSP infrastructure.

It’s also assumed that the American Savings act might end up establishing an organization that’s identical to TSP just so the structure that’s currently in place for the federal retirees, military personnel and federal employees keeps on functioning as it’s with its low fee structure and limited options to invest. We will have to wait and see how these developments occur and at this time, the best we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

Trump Raised $6 million for Veterans

veteransTwo major veteran groups have announced this past week that they will indeed be accepting the money that has been raised by the campaign rally run by Donald Trump. The rally was staged after the candidate made the decision of skipping the latest GOP debate preceding the Iowa caucuses. While there was positive announcements, some skeptic veterans were reluctant to say “Aye”.

Veterans welcome Trump money:

The president of the DAVCST or the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust was the one who made the announcement. He said that we have been explicitly reached out by the Donald Trump Foundation and have been told that there is a donation that’s aimed at providing the organization the funds that it direly needs. He further said that this could go a long way in making their bid towards ensuring complete health and benefits of the veterans a successful one.

This particular trust is a nonpartisan agency that is responsible for supporting psychological and physical rehabilitation programs that provide direct support to the veterans that have been injured for some reason or have a disability. Marbes did make it very clear in his statement that he or the agency is in no way related to the campaign run by the forth runner. He mentioned that he expects all the candidates to possess the same beliefs that they do and help us in any way they can.

This step is an indicative of good will from Donald Trump and it could instigate a series of related events where candidates will help and support agencies like DAVCST in their mission to help the servants of the nation

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