Tag: Federal benefits

Federal benefits

Retirement Benefits Savers Get a Gift from IRS

The Internal Revenue Service of the USA has given a special gift to all the retirees who have some retirement benefits saving. It has allowed them a chance to explain why they didn’t stick to the 60-day deadline while moving their money from one IRA to another or from a 401(k) to an IRA. Earlier, the retirees just had to pay tax for missing the deadline and they didn’t get a chance to explain the situation. Experts are still advising to make the money transfer online.
A new rule announced by IRS says that the taxpayers who fail to move funds from one retirement benefits fund to another won’t get penalized hastily.

IRS reduced the Worry of Retirement Benefits Savers

IRS has considerably made the life of a retiree easier as the rule of moving retirement benefits funds from one IRA to another and from a 401(k) to another within just 60 days cost a lot of money to the retirees earlier and harmed their nest eggs. When a retiree failed to move the funds in time, he or she had to pay taxes for the full amount. If the person moving the funds was 59 and a half years of age, he or she had to pay an additional penalty.

Avoiding the Risk

In order to avoid the risk of paying extra tax, the financial experts advised the retirees to do an online transfer of their funds. Not only it’s very convenient but it’s quicker too. It ensures that the funds are transferred smoothly within a few days.

The Mistakes

Some retirees had to pay extra tax because they had a misconception that the account they have moved their funds to  a qualified retirement account while it was not the case. Some even made the mistake of losing the distribution check.

Expert Opinion

The founder of IRAhelp.com and a certified public accountant, Ed Slott says that this move of IRS is a big deal and it will help a lot of people. He says that when people had to pay full taxes due to a small mistake, they lost their tax-advantaged status.

Slott adds that people who didn’t submit the funds on time usually did it inadvertently rather than trying to pull something over on the IRS. He also said that there was a costly appeals process so only a few offenders pursued it. He concluded by saying that online transfer is still the best practice.

The Circumstances

IRS has announced that the new rule would be effective immediately and has shared a list of circumstances that allow a person to be excused for not submitting the retirement benefits savings in a new account on time. Some of these circumstances are severe damage to the residence of the taxpayer, death in the family of the taxpayer, serious illness of a family member, a postal error, etc. In such circumstances, the taxpayer must immediately provide a written self-certification explaining why or she missed the window.

Fraud Protection For Retired Federal Officials

federal officialsFraud protection is something of paramount importance in the skeptic and cynical world of today and where social security and other veteran benefit policies are protected against fraud, federal retirement benefits is not.

This is something that was always in the attention of the law forming bodies and now courtesy a bill put forward by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and James Lankford is possibly going to rectify this issue once and for all.

Mr. James Lankford is the head of the governmental affairs committee on regulatory affairs and federal management and the homeland security department of Senate. He has in strong words emphasized on the fact that once this bill of his gets passed, strict penalties will be carried out against any financial over lookers who are found guilty of committing fraud against a federal officer. He further said that the current rules are not clear nor firm and it was high time somebody changed that.

The payee fraud prevention act encompasses both the FERS and the CSRS retired officials. James said that he was made aware of the issue by several retiree advocate groups that were constantly trying to make things right. During this period, he was trying to reduce the retirement wait tenures. On average, a federally retired officer has to wait around eight months (if not more) before first being able to enjoy their benefits and this is definitely something in demand of attention.

The recent OPM data security breach has stolen the main spotlight inside the agency and in the eyes of media as well but Lankford believes that even though security vulnerabilities need to be removed and data centers be made a lot securer, he can’t let millions of employees suffer because of fraud.

Seeing such positive efforts made by senators only proves to us that there are in fact people striving to make this nation a lot more prosperous one. Here’s hoping that it continues.

It’s Almost Federal Benefits Open Season For Federal Employees

The Federal Benefits Open Season is just round the corner (Nov 9-Dec 14) and is your one and only annual opportunity to enroll or make changes to your health, dental, vision, and tax-saving needs.

There are three federal benefits programs that participate in the annual Open Season event. They are the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), and the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS).

This is your chance to make elections for these programs that you aren’t allowed to do during the rest of the year, unless you can come up with a qualifying life event (QLE).

For the record, your FEHB and FEDVIP enrollments will continue automatically even if you ignore the Open Season event and make no changes. Existing FSAFEDS accounts, however, do not continue automatically, so you are required to re-enroll.

What Changes Can you Do To Your Federal Benefits During Open Season?

The changes to federal benefits you can make vary based on the program. For FSAFEDS, you can choose from three accounts – a dependent care account, a health care account, and a limited expense health care account. Participating in this program reduces your taxable income. To make an FSAFEDS election, call 1-877-372-3337 or TTY 1-800-952-0450, or do it online at www.FSAFEDS.com.

You can enroll into FEDVIP to fill the gaps in your existing dental and/or vision coverage. For those already enrolled, Open Season is the only time you can cancel FEDVIP enrollment. To make a FEDVIP election, call 1-877-888-3337, TTY 1-877-889-5680, or do it online at www.BENEFEDS.com.

As for FEHB, eligible employees can enroll, change from one health plan to another, and cancel their health benefits enrollment. You can also change participation in premium conversion. One important change this year is the new “Self plus one” enrollment type. Those enrolled in “Self and Family” with only one covered family member can elect to switch to the Self plus one plan.

For making FEHB elections during Open Season, federal employees should use the Health Benefits Election Form (SF 2809) or use an online self-service system. Federal retirees can call Open Season Express at 1-800-332-9798, TTY 1-855-887-4957, or do it online on the OPM Retirement website at retireefehb.opm.gov.

Dem Debate Helps Paid Family Leave Stand Out Among Federal Benefits

Dem Debate Helps Paid Family Leave Stand Out Among Federal Benefits

federal benefits

Apart from the private email server issue, just about the only other thing that the top three Democratic candidates for the Presidential nomination could agree upon was about paid family leave. The good news is that this makes it stand out as one of the only federal benefits which now has the unqualified support of the Democratic Presidential nominee, whoever that may be.

“I believe in equal pay for equal work for women, but I also believe it’s about time we had paid family leave for American families and join the rest of the world.” – Hillary Clinton

“You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we’re not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have — we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth.” – Sen. Bernie Sanders

“And I have to agree with Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders…We would be a stronger nation economically if we had paid family leave.” – Gov. Martin O’Malley

 

What About TSP and the Other Federal Employee Benefits?

 

OK, so paid family leave has the support of the Democrats, and even Republicans opposed to spending will fold and support mandated paid medical leave if it comes to a vote. But other existing federal benefits aren’t so well protected, and some are actually in serious danger because of the coming budget stand-off in December.

One of the federal employee benefits that will almost surely come under the hammer is the Thrift Savings Plan G Fund, which has been saved at least twice this year from Congressional action. Intervention by federal employee unions and coalitions ensured that proposals to reduce the rate of returns of the G Fund and allow Congress to make use of federal retirement plan savings were stripped out of bills more than once.

Then there’s the downsizing, pay freezes and spending cuts from sequestration that will affect federal employees more than anyone else. Congress has already forced 25% cuts in the military’s civilian employee workforce, along with a reduction in federal benefits for military members through the new TSP-style retirement plan.

Sequestration Rally to Protect Federal Employee Benefits

Sequestration Rally to Protect Federal Employee Benefits

benefitsCongressional leaders and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) teamed up to organize a rally at the U.S. Capitol in a bid to attract support for an agreement to end sequestration cuts.

AFGE leaders and activists were joined at the rally by House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Senator Chuck Schumer, House Budget Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen, and other House and Senate Members. Also participating in the rally were NDD United Co-Chairs Emily J. Holubowich and Joel Packer.

AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said that the FY 2016 budget absolutely cannot be balanced by taking away hard earned federal employee benefits. “With working families in mind it is critical that we take a stand against the crushing budget cuts of sequestration,” said Cox.

If Congress does not end sequestration, more than a trillion dollars in spending cuts over the next decade will gut services and the federal workforce, reducing both numbers as well as the federal benefits that employees get today.

 

Statements From Leaders at Sequestration Rally

Hoyer joined the other leaders at the rally in urging House Republicans to work with Democrats on a bipartisan agreement on appropriations that raises sequester caps on both defense and non-defense priorities.

“Sequestration is most harmful to those who are most vulnerable – seniors, children, low-income families, the sick, the homeless, and the hungry. But it also harms our ability to plan a defense budget that protects our nation and denies us a chance to prioritize investments in our future. The way we can end sequestration is through a budget agreement that provides equal sequester relief to both defense and non-defense,” said Hoyer.

“We must send a strong message to those who seek to weaken public services through arbitrary cuts that enough is enough. Congress must repeal the across-the-board, automatic budget cuts under sequestration,” added Cox.

Potential Government Shut Down Threatens Federal Benefits

Potential Government Shut Down Threatens Federal Benefits and Retirement

Congressman Rick Nolan, a Democrat from Minnesota is trying to equalize penalties for a government shutdown by ensuring that lawmakers lose access to their federal benefits during a shutdown. The bill was introduced in the House and would not apply to the current congress.

Because the constitution does not allow pay changes to occur during current terms, the changes would only affect newly elected members of Congress. Nolan argued that this bill is necessary to ensure that Congress is in the same position as other federal employees. If passed, this legislation could help encourage inter-party cooperation.

Nolan released a statement about this bill saying, “If hundreds of thousands of other federal employees are to go without their salaries—twisting slowly in the wind in a government shutdown—then the Congress should not get paid either. This legislation would require the Congress to work full time—with no salary—during any government shut down until they pass a bill to fund our government…”

Members of Congress currently make $174,000.

 

Possible Protection during the Shutdown

 

Senator Ben Cardin, a democrat from Maryland is trying to protect federal workers during a potential government shutdown. Cardin sponsored legislation, “The Federal Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2015.” This legislation would allow “excepted” employees to take leave during a government shut down and ensure that excepted employees receive payment quickly following a furlough, no matter when their paychecks are normally scheduled.

“Our bill is the right thing to do and the fair thing to do. Federal workers are dedicated public servants who simply want to do their jobs on behalf of the American people. They shouldn’t suffer because of extreme partisan gamesmanship,” Cardin said in a statement.

The legislation is received vocal support by federal employee unions who argue that the proposal would allow a more fair treatment of federal employees during a government furlough.

The federal government has until midnight on October 1 to reach a budget agreement or face a massive government shutdown.

Some Employees Would Still Have to Work

 

In the event of a shutdown furlough, some employees may be working despite receiving funding from appropriate committees. These employees are typically referred to as “excepted” and include workers that are essential to the health, welfare and safety of individuals. This category typically includes police officers and military.

Other federal employees that will continue to work and see to delay in pay include federal employees that do not receive funding from appropriate committees, like postal workers. These employees will continue to work normally with no impact to their pay or benefits.

Employees that are not excepted or exempt may not work during a shutdown, except to maintain basic order in the agencies. Employers are responsible for notifying affected employees. If the government fails to come to an agreement on the budget by Oct. 1, federal employee benefits could be at risk. Not only could employees lose access to pay and retired federal employees have retirement payments delayed, current federal employees with approved paid time off will not be paid if their time off falls during the furlough period. The last government shut down occurred in October 2013 and left many federal employees without pay.

 

Federal Employee Benefits Protected against Taxation

Federal Employee Benefits Protected against Taxation

federal employee benefitsChanges to a federal tax law now protect the federal employee benefits of a public safety officer who was disabled or killed in the line of duty. Congress unanimously approved the “Don’t Tax our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act,” which was later signed by President Obama this summer. The purpose of the bill was to clean confusion in current tax law to ensure that families of public safety officers that died or suffered debilitating injury while on duty would not have to pay for benefits received.

Section 1201 Benefits

This legislation addressed federal benefits paid out through Section 1201 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Acts of 1928. This act made it possible for the families of fallen public safety officers to receive death and education benefits. These federal benefits apply to law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders who die or sustain disabling injuries while on duty.

Current benefit totals are just over $205,000 for deaths and injuries occurring after October of 2014. Additionally, educational benefits total a one-month sum of just over $1000. The legislation provides that the government cannot tax any money provided to surviving dependents of a public safety officer who died from an injury sustained with on duty. However, taxes may be applied if the money would have been payable even if the injury that resulted in death took place off the clock. This exclusion does not apply to disability benefits.

Workmen’s Compensation Exclusion and Death Benefits

Before the passage of this legislation, state based agencies used workmen’s compensation exclusions to rule that death benefits were not taxable. However, this required each employer to submit a private letter with the IRS to ensure that the beneficiaries are free from taxation on these benefits. This process often took weeks. The new legislation makes it clear that these benefits cannot be taxed, clearing up paperwork and time for employers and agencies.

Dave Reichert, a Republican from Washington, told house members that, “When a public safety officer has been catastrophically injured or killed in the line of duty, their families should not also have to deal with paying taxes on the benefits they received after that loved one has paid the ultimate price while protecting their fellow Americans. The sacrifices of our men and women who wear the badge keep us safe, and now we have the opportunity to help provide for those that they leave behind,” according to Lexology.

This act only applies to federal taxes, though most states are likely to follow suit as many follow federal tax law to compute state taxes.

A second act, the Public Safety Employees Retirement Act extends  an exemption that currently allows state public safety employees to withdraw from their federal retirement plans without a 10 percent penalty, provided that are 50 years of age or older. This additional exemption only applies to law enforcement officers, firefighters, and air traffic controllers. Congress passed this bill last month and the president signed the bill into law, offering more flexibility for individuals who routinely put their life on the line in the name of federal employment.

Federal Employees Have New Union Leader

Federal Employees Have New Union Leader

federal employeesThe National Treasury Employees Union instated Tony Reardon as president of the Union. The Treasure Employees Union is the second largest federal employee union. Reardon has spent the last 25-years working as a staff member for the NTEU, but has never actually held federal employment. He won the election with 89 percent of the vote.

Reardon will replace former executive vice president, Colleen M. Kelley who served as president for 16 years. Members of the National Treasury Employees Union comprise federal employees from over 31 different department and agencies totaling some 85,000 members.

Reardon says some of the most pressing issues surround federal benefits include fair pay. He wants to address multiple pay freezes as well as years when pay increased only 1 percent. He said that ensuring federal employees receive fair pay is especially important.

Additionally, Reardon is a proponent for protecting government retirement benefits. He said, “We want to make sure we are protecting federal retirement. Federal employees deserve a secure and fair retirement. They signed on with the expectation they would get that modest retirement, and ultimately they earned it,” according to a question/answer session with the Washington Post.

Reardon also noted that proposals to weaken the federal retirement program are particularly disheartening, considering that so many individuals of government retirement age do not have enough money saved up for retirement. “Federal workers spend their professional lives serving their country and deserve the modest retirement income they were promised and earned,” he said.

Ensuring that all federal agencies, and particularly the IRS, will also be a major focus on Reardon’s time as union president. Reardon feels that providing fair budgets is essential to ensuring that all agencies function properly. He noted that ensuring the IRS has enough funding is vital to the success of the rest of the federal entities because the IRS funds the rest of the government.

Finally, Reardon wants to help protect safeguard employee rights. There have been several moves to remove the union from the IRS entirely, which Reardon says would be a mistake. “Eliminating or restricting due process will discourage workers from speaking up and expose employees to unfair treatment,” he said in the question and answer session.

Reardon says he plans to work from former president Colleen Kelley’s groundwork to protect federal employment and federal benefits.

While Reardon has never been a federal employee, he has worked for the NTEU for 25 years and served as the vice president for the NTEU. His tenure as vice president put him in the position to serve as a chair of the IRS term bargaining team as well as a chair of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection term bargaining team. He has worked closely with many federal employment organizations and spent more than 10 years as the NTEU Chief Operation Executive. His leadership and management skills include day-to-day operations, NTEU convention organization and national training conferences.

Colleen Kelley oversaw major changes to federal employment benefits during her tenure including sick leave credit in the FERS that can used toward retirement. She was also integral in the integration of flexible spending accounts as well as saving many FDA labs.

New Bill helps Seasonal Workers Become Actual Federal Employees

Senate Passes Bill to Help Seasonal Workers Become Full-Time Federal Employees

federal employees

The U.S. Senate passed the Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act, clearing the last hurdle on a bill that will make it easier for seasonal workers to transition into becoming full-time federal employees.

The bill (H.R.1531) was introduced in the House earlier this year in March and was passed in July. The Senate took it up last week, and it sailed through the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs without amendment.

Now it has passed the full Senate by Unanimous Consent, and will be sent to the President for his signature. Since the White House has already indicated that it will be signed into law, there is no hurdle to seasonal workers using their experience to transition into federal employment with far less red tape.

The bill provides to temporary seasonal workers some of the same rights and benefits that are available to permanent seasonal workers. The temporary seasonal workers are currently able to work no more than six months per year, and do not receive federal retirement benefits, career advancement opportunities and other such federal benefits.

Permanent seasonal workers, on the other hand, are furloughed instead of being let go. This means they receive pro-rated federal benefits in a manner similar to full-time federal employees.

 How Does H.R.1531 Help Temporary Workers Become Full-Time Federal Employees?

H.R.1531 would make temporary seasonal workers eligible to compete for a permanent appointment in any land management agency or any other agency if: (1) the original appointment was competitive, (2) the employee has served under one or more time-limited appointments totaling more than 24 months without a break of two or more years, and (3) the employee’s performance has been at an acceptable level.

This bill will benefit some 10,000 or so temporary seasonal employees at land management agencies, which includes the Land Management Bureau, NPS, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Indian Affairs Bureau and Reclamation Bureau.

 

Could Taking Early FERS Retirement Cost Benefits? – by June Kirby

Could Taking Early FERS Retirement Cost You Your SRS Benefit?

by June Kirby

fers retirement benefits
Image Credits

Although taking retirement early may sound appealing to many people, doing so could end up being detrimental to your retirement income situation – especially in terms of your FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System) Special Retirement Supplement (SRS) benefit.

The SRS was implemented in order to help in bridging the gap between the time that a FERS employee retired and the time that he or she was able to draw on Social Security income at age 62. This benefit will end when you turn age 62 and become eligible for Social Security.

The amount of the benefit is calculated based upon the age that you are when you take your retirement, as well as the number of years you have in agency service. With that in mind, taking an early retirement could essentially cost you in the dollar amount of benefit that you receive.

 

Determining the Amount of Your Monthly Special Retirement Supplement Benefit

Looking at an example, if your minimum retirement age was 57, and you retire with 30 years of federal service, your Social Security benefit may be $1,000 per month. In determining your SRS benefit, the 30 years of your federal service would be divided by 40 (the number of years in which Social Security considers to be a “full” career).

That figure, 75%, is then multiplied by the dollar amount of the age 62 Social Security benefit. This will result in the amount of your SRS benefit. In this particular case, the amount of your monthly benefit would be $750 per month.

However, if you had retired early with only 20 years of service, the calculation would come out different. For example, 20 years divided into 40 would come out to a 50% fraction. This multiplied by the $1,000 Social Security benefit at age 62 would instead leave you with $500 per month in SRS benefits – a substantial difference from the $750 you would have with 30 years of service.

In either case, your SRS benefits would end when you reached age 62 and you were eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. However, these benefits can end even sooner if you have earnings from wages or self-employment that exceed the Social Security earnings limit. So, if you do plan to have even a part-time job in retirement or to start your own new business endeavor, this is also something to be mindful of.

 

More June Kirby Articles

What Are Your TSP Options With the New Phased Retirement Program? by June Kirby

FEGLI – The Good, the Bad, and the Just Plain Ugly – by June Kirby

Survivor Options for Married Federal Spouses – By June Kirby

Determining the True Cost of Waiting to Buy Back Military Benefits – by June Kirby

 

About June Kirby

June Kirby has well over a decade of experience serving as a Federal Employee Retirement Trainer and expert.  June Kirby has extensive knowledge in both TSP and other Federal Retirement benefits.  Ms. Kirby tirelessly travels the Country making herself available to Federal & Postal Employees, Federal Agencies, Unions and Organizations and partners with PSREducators.com (PSRE), and as one of the top providers of PSRE’s services, June Kirby continues to generously make herself available to hundreds of deserving Federal and Postal Employees each and every year by offering consultation on federal retirement benefits and TSP maximization strategies.

Do You Have a Federal Retirement Individual Action Plan

Retirement Individual Action Plan

Building your Federal Retirement Individual Action Plan (IAP) starts first with building your Financial Plan – the key element to your retirement future.  In order to achieve our collective goal of retiring with comfort and security, we must underscore the inescapable urgency of identifying and setting goals.  Without setting SMART goals we cannot develop a workable financial plan, a sensible budget or an Individual Action Plan (IAP).

Federal Employee Retirement Priorities 

We all philosophically know the difference between ‘WANT’ and ‘NEED’.  Prioritizing need over want is the age old challenge.  There is nothing wrong with ‘wants’.  As a matter of fact, wants often push us to succeeding.  The challenge is being able to know the difference between want and need and utilizing that knowledge to choose options and decision-making strategies that are critical to the SMART goals we set in our lives.

The Federal Employee Financial Plan

One of the most important components of financial planning is the decision-making process.  As we think about retirement, it is imperative that we make choices that maximize our capacity to accomplish SMART goals with perhaps a different level of income.  Decision-making, like goal setting may need to be modified depending on changing circumstances and other factors.  However, there is a process of effective decision-making used by most of us without ever consciously thinking about it.  We are constantly setting goals consciously or subconsciously.  We must analyze data when determining what we can afford and what we cannot.  We create plans to turn thoughts into action, the implementation process. Lastly, we monitor how things are working which often calls for modifying the original plan we put in place.  Are you ready to put your retirement plan in action.

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

Recommended Articles

For Postal Employees – LiteBlue and the TSP

Federal Retirement Benefit Analysis

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Withdrawal Options

Federal and Postal Employees – Choosing a Financial Professional

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

Is All ‘Your’ TSP Money Actually Yours?

Federal Retirement Benefit Analysis

How To Best Fund Your TSP

 

Federal Benefits: Keeping Abreast of Federal Benefit Changes

Keeping Aware of Federal Benefits Changes

federal benefitsProvisions and guidelines for postal and federal benefits may change often.  We need to stay alert for any and all changes that impact our federal retirement benefits now and in the future,  The more we know about how our federal retirement benefits work in once we retire the better our next new adventure will be.  Let’s discuss a few policy changes that have taken place within the last year.

The Supreme Court declared that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.  Therefore some benefits that had been previously denied to certain categories of individuals have now been extended to them.  Based on the ruling, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has extended marriage-based federal benefits under its purview to federal employees, annuitants, and their same-sex spouses who have legally married in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriages, without regard to where they currently live or work.  The policy change as stipulated by OPM is deemed a qualifying life event (QLE) which allows changes to be made outside of open season generally 60 days from the date of implementation.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is following the same provision but for the purpose of family member definitions under leave programs, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and relocation.  Further for FMLA relevant to a same sex spouse who lives in a State that does not recognize same-sex marriage, the right to leave under FMLA was initially on a temporary basis pending directions from the United States Department of Labor (DOL).

The Department of Labor issued guidance after that period and made it effective on the date the Supreme Court made its ruling (June 26, 2013) declaring that same-sex spouses may be eligible for FMLA Leave to care for a seriously ill spouse or for activities related to a spouse’s military deployment.

It should be noted that DOL’s guidance verifies that only employees living in a state recognizing same-sex marriage can use FMLA leave for an action related to their same-sex spouse.  Therefore, the expanded rights are not applicable to same-sex couples who legally marry in one state, but live in another state that does not recognize same sex-marriage.

There are some other policy changes that we will discuss in a separate post regarding other federal benefits.  I believe firmly that it is always easier by the inch than the mile to digest all the information that constantly becomes a part of how our benefits work now and how they will work in retirement.

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

Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey

Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey: What You Think Matters

federal employeeArriving in the mailboxes of Federal Employees will soon be the 2014 Employee Viewpoint Survey.  Employees have until early June to complete the survey.  Every federal employee should actively participate in the survey because what you say matters.  Employees know and understand what is happening in their agencies better than any other single source.

Participating in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey allows leaders in the Federal Government the opportunity to really see how they are doing.  It determines what strategies need to be employed in order to make government agencies more efficient and customer-centered.

The Employee Viewpoint Survey gives employees an open opportunity to say what they feel, offer suggestions and ideas as to how to make government better.  The Viewpoint Survey not only asks questions, but allows participants to comment.  Even if you will be retiring soon, don’t fail to participate in the Survey.  You have perhaps witnessed some things others may not have had the opportunity to see and the Federal Viewpoint Survey helps you share you knowledge.

When the Federal Viewpoint Survey arrives, don’t leave it on the table or forget about it in your briefcase, do yourself a favor and respond because what you say as a Federal Employee matters.  What you say drives the forward movement of agencies throughout the federal workforce.

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

OPM and UMUC: Partnership for America’s Greatness

OPM and UMUC Partnership

opmThe Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has partnered with the University of Maryland, University College (UMUC) to ensure federal employees and their families acquire the skills needed to compete on the global stage.

The partnership offers current federal employees, their spouses and dependent children a 25% discount on out-of-state tuition, to help address the fact that tuition is becoming increasingly costly and unaffordable for many families.  OPM’s forward thinking is certainly a plus for the federal workforce.  In a time when the economy is still trying to find momentum, it is critical that resources are gathered and utilized in the most efficient manner possible.

Federal employees, in addition to all of the great employee and the federal retirement benefits afforded to them, can take advantage of the partnership advantage starting as early as the Summer of 2014.  The programs provide the 25% tuition discount in most undergraduate courses and some graduate courses.  Courses are available on-line making it convenient to fit the busy schedules of the federal workforce.

Federal employees can look forward to a Summer of Education for themselves and their qualifying family members.  Federal employees may enroll in degree-granting programs, certificate programs or just take a few classes to enhance their professional profile or simply to learn something new.

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

Social Security – Background

~~SOCIAL SECURITY-BACKGROUND

Social SecurityAs we continue building our laundry list of things we need to know and do in order to prepare to retire well, Social Security is a major item on our list.  The Social Security Act was signed on August 14, 1935 some 15 years after the Civil Service came into being on August 1, 1920.    When the Social Security Act first came into being, it was only a retirement program for the primary worker.  It was not until many years later around 1939, that benefits for survivors and the retiree’s spouse and children were added.  Disability benefits were not a part of the program until 1956.

Today we look at the Social Security Act from a much smaller view than it was originally structured.    The Act was extensive in its original format and contained provisions for national unemployment compensation, Aid for Dependent Children and assistance to states to support a number of health and welfare programs.
Today we think of Social Security as a core part of the retirement structure for employees of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) as well as those employees under the CSRS Offset program.  Individuals under these systems have social security deducted from payroll, while employees under the old Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) do not.
CSRS employees may, however, be eligible for social security benefits because they worked in non-federal jobs where they paid into social security or via spousal or survivor benefits because of a spouse’s covered employment.  The history of the Social Security Act and its expansion to cover the categories of spouses and survivors has been of great benefit to many families.
Two legal requirements may impact Social Security benefits for CSRS employees:  the *Government Pension Offset and the * Windfall Elimination Provision.  The Government Pension Offset does not affect CSRS Offset employees but the Windfall Elimination Provision might, depending on the beneficiary’s earned outside income while drawing Social Security benefits.
*DEFINITIONS:  Government Pension Offset – This law affects spouses, widows and widowers who may qualify to receive a pension from a federal, state or local government where Social Security taxes were not paid from your work and may cause your Social Security spouse’s widow or widower’s benefits to be reduced.
Windfall Elimination Provision – Your Social Security benefits may be reduced if you receive a pension based on work you performed in a government agency or employment in another country where your employer did not withhold Social Security taxes from your salary.
We will discuss both Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision in greater detail in a subsequent post.
P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Click HERE for information on Windfall Elimination Provision

Click HERE for information on Government Pension Offset

Click HERE for information on Social Security

Click HERE for information on CSRS

Click HERE for information on FERS

How To Retire Happy

~~HOW TO RETIRE HAPPY

HappyThe first step to making sure you are happy in retirement is to understand that YOU MATTER.  Many of us subconsciously define ourselves by our jobs and job titles.  When those things no longer exist, we may begin to wonder about the significance of our lives and our future.  It is simply human nature to want to feel important in the lives of others.  However, to really feel how important you are in the lives of others, you must first place value on your own life.  You really do matter because you are you, a wonderful being who has contributed more than you know to helping to make our country thrive.

Federal and postal workers make up the largest workforce in the world and they perform some very important tasks.  They help to keep the world moving.  An unfortunate thing that I hear in many of the educational seminars I have performed, is that these same employees don’t think of themselves that way. Their biggest mistake is to not maintain a happy outlook at all times. It is understandable that losing the routine of work itself, the relationships we build with colleagues, the connection to an environment, an office or defined destination to go to, and just that daily schedule leaves many people wondering if they really matter.

It may take a little time to figure out just how important you are.  But while you are figuring that out, we already know how important you are and that you really do matter because the work you performed has charted a path for that work to continue and make a difference in the continued growth of our nation.  In a future post, we will discuss some interesting thoughts about our psychological profile.  Remember YOU MATTER.

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

FEGLI – 75% Reduction Election

FEGLI: 75% Reduction

FEGLIThere are some dates or time periods that are important when discussing FEGLI.  Although, we are clearly in the year 2014, I am still going to discuss dates prior in the event retirees or family members of retirees are a bit unclear about what is happening with the life insurance carried into retirement from the federal service.
If you retired prior to December 9, 1980, your BASIC FEGLI coverage (watch the video) begins to decrease by 2 percent of the face value every  month starting with the second month after you reach the age of 65 or when you retire whichever comes later.  The decrease in face value continues until it reaches 25 percent of the original face value.  The coverage is free.
If you retired on after December 9, 1980, but prior to January 1, 1990, you would have elected a reduction of 75 percent, 50 percent or No Reduction.  This is where we can be clearer so that there is a complete understanding of the elections with no confusion.
Let’s talk about what the 75 percent reduction election means.  If you chose the 75 percent reduction during the periods outlined, your BASIC life insurance will begin to decrease in face value by 2 percent every month starting with the second month after you turn 65 or your retirement date, whichever is later.  The decrease is ongoing until it reaches 25 percent of the original face value.  This insurance coverage is free for you.  You pay no premium.
I am a huge proponent of – it is easier by the inch than the mile.  For that reason, I am going to discuss each percentage reduction election separately.  I think we will have a better understanding if we do it that way.  Agreed?

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

 

RELATED TOPICS – More Federal and Postal Insurance Information

Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB)

Federal Flexible Spending Account (FSAFEDS)

Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP)

Federal Employees and Medicare

Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)

FEGLI – The Order of Precendence

FEGLI: Order of Precedence

FEGLINow that we have discussed how a death claim will be paid.  Let’s discuss to whom the death benefit will be paid.  The Federal Government uses what is termed an Order of Precedence.  The FEGLI Order of Precedence has no attachment to your Will.  The Federal Government does not get involved in Wills and Probate.  Instead, if there is no assignment of your FEGLI (Life Insurance) and no valid court order exists then the order is as follows ranging from first to sixth and in that order:
1. Designated FEGLI Beneficiary(s).
2. If no designation – widow or widower
3. If neither 1 nor 2 exists, your FEGLI will pass to the child or children.  If any child or children is deceased, then equal shares will be paid to the descendants of the deceased child or children.  If minors are involved, then the court will usually appoint a guardian to receive payment for the minor children.
4. If the above situation does not exist, then to the parents in equal shares or the whole to the surviving parent.
5. If none of the conditions above exists, then to the administrator or executor of the estate.
6. If all five of the conditions do not exist, then the next of kin as designated by the State in which the deceased lived – not the state in which the deceased died.
When planning your retirement future, it is important to gather and understand as much information as possible.  Discuss the information with family and loved ones you trust.  You can also check with your HR office about your current beneficiary designations and possibly with a qualified local FEGLI expert who can help you with your insurance selections and decisions.

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

 

RELATED TOPICS – More Federal and Postal Insurance Information

Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB)

Federal Flexible Spending Account (FSAFEDS)

Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP)

Federal Employees and Medicare

Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)

More About FEGLI – FEGLI Option C

FEGLI Option C

FEGLIIn previous articles we discussed Basic insurance and Options A and B and various FEGLI rates.  Now let’s talk about the third option under the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance – Option C.  Option C is Family Insurance.  As with Options A and B, Option C’s premiums are also based on age.  Coverage continues into retirement and you pay the full cost of premiums.
Option C provides life insurance for your spouse and unmarried, dependent children, excluding foster children.  Option C covers your spouse between 1 and 5 multiples of $5,000 and the children between the same multiples of $2,500.
With Option C you have two opportunities to make an election — first at retirement and shortly before your 65th birthday.  Even if you are already 65, you still have two opportunities to make an election at retirement and shortly after retirement.
With Option C, you may choose two levels of coverage at first election:  Full or No Reduction for all multiples.  With Full Reductionq, at age 65 the amount of your Option C will start to reduce at 2% a month until it reaches zero.
However, if you chose No Reduction, at the first election, the full amount of your Option C will continue until your death unless you change to Full Reduction.  At the second election, you can also choose Full or no Reduction for any or all multiples under Option C.
A Special Note:  If you choose not to stop the future reduction of coverage when you reach age 65, your premiums will cease and your coverage will drop 2% per month for approximately 50 months, after this period your coverage will cease.  If you choose not to end coverage, your premiums will continue.
Take your time in examining and understanding your options so that you will be pleased with the decisions you make to protect you and your loved ones.

Click HERE for information on Retirement Planning

Click HERE for information on FEGLI

Click HERE for information on TSP.gov login

Click HERE for information on FEGLI Calculator

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