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May 26, 2022

Federal Employee Retirement and Benefits News

Category: Federal Retirement NEWS

Federal Retirement NEWS

Thank you for visiting PSRetirement.com for your Federal Retirement News and other information.  We focus on what matters most to federal employees about their retirement plans and benefits along with articles that will shape the Federal Employee landscape will be available in this category.

Stay up to date with the latest happenings in the federal retirement world.

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Five-Year Rule Flexibility – When Can It Be Waived?

Flexibility of the Five-Year Rule

Five-year ruleThe five-year rule for transporting your FEHB into retirement is not necessarily a hard and fast rule.  There are circumstances under which OPM will grant a pre-approved waiver of the FEHB five-year rule to federal employees.  Some of the circumstances are outlined below:

  • When a federal employee has been under the FEHB program continuously since the initial date of the agency’s most recent statutory buyout authority or an OPM approved buyout or early retirement authorization and the employee retires during the buyout or OPM-authorized buyout or early out period.
  • When an employee receives a buyout or takes an early optional retirement or discontinued service retirement based on an involuntary separation because of a Reduction in Force (RIF) a directed reassignment, a reclassification to a lower grade or when a position is abolished.

OPM will also consider other waivers (in addition to the five-year rule) on an individual or limited basis.

Postal employess can access their FEHB benefits through PostalEase and LiteBlue

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

Military – Tricare and FEHB

Tricare and FEHB

TricareFederal and Postal employees must meet the 5 year enrollment requirement in order to take my FEHB into retirement.  However, if you don’t have the required time, you may use your Military Tricare time to qualify for FEHB.

Military personnel enrolled in Tricare (regulated by the Department of Defense (DOD) is a health care program that serves Uniformed Service members, retirees and their families around the world) are able to count that Tricare time towards the required five year provision for FEHB as long as they are enrolled in an FEHB covered health plan at retirement.

As a federal employee you do not have to worry about filling out an application to keep your health benefits when your retire.  When your retirement becomes effective, your coverage will automatically transfer to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) where they will process your retirement papers and take care of you as a retiree.  Your agency will no longer be responsible for you.

If, however, you decide that you don’t want to take your FEHB into retirement, you will need to include in your retirement package a fully completed SF 2809 (Benefits Registration Form) cancelling your coverage.

 

FEHB access for Postal employees HERE

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

 

About FEHB (Transporting your FEHB)

Can I Take My FEHB into Retirement?

FEHBFederal employees represent the largest workforce in the world.  They also have some of the best benefits on the market with very competitive rates. The federal workforce is so large making it easy for the federal government, acting as representative agent, to negotiate rates that work in the best interest of the federal workforce and their families.  Buying in large quantities can drive down costs making the rate for premiums paid by employees for health insurance some of the most competitive you will find.

The Federal Employees Health Benefit program (FEHB) is open to all employees who wish to participate.  Employees can choose from a number of different health plans that fit their personal and family needs.  As federal employees you get to take your health insurance into retirement if you have met the requirement of being enrolled in FEHB five years or from the earliest opportunity to enroll prior to retirement.

Although, as a retiree you get to enjoy the same low premium benefits in retirement, instead of paying those premiums bi-weekly, they will be deducted once per month from your Annuity.  You also have the same opportunity to participate in open season just as you did while working.

It does not matter how often you change plans, as long as you meet the five year or first opportunity to enroll requirement, you can transport your FEHB into retirement.

Social Security is also a key component for eligible Federal and Postal employees

Postal employees can access their FEHB accounts HERE

How do your Medicare elections fit with your FEHB elections?

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

Baby Boomer – The Reality of ‘Now’

Baby Boomer: The Reality of ‘Now’

Baby BoomerThe baby boomer generation will be the first generation of retirees who will enter into retirement while their parents are still living.  That is a reality because Americans are living longer.  This means that in addition to baby boomers planning their own retirement future, they must also help and sometimes manage their aging parents’ retirement too.  There are many questions that come to mind, but the main question about retirement is – “Will I have enough money?”

Many times family members neglect to communicate those things that will help to lighten the load on one family member or a few.  Being a caretaker whether directly or indirectly is a challenge and that challenge can be exacerbated by the fact that aging parent also need care and attention.  But that challenge can be made easier by building a strong support system of family, friends and the many resources now available to seniors living in retirement.

As a baby boomer, it is a good idea to begin looking into resources and options for your parents as well as yourself before it becomes a must.  Taking the initiate to be proactive will save you a lot of time, money and stress.

If you are a baby boomer living in a community where the reality of taking care of a parent is imminent, it might be wise to start or join a community focus group that will look into the best options possible for your situation – where to live, how to live, how to manage the unexpected and how to enjoy retirement in difficult situations.

Having support is one of the strongest links to riding out a storm.

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Retirement Planning – Now or Later?

Retirement Planning

Retirement PlanningThe most important step a Federal or Postal employee can take toward a successful retirement is recognizing how and when to begin the retirement planning process.  As a FERS or CSRS eligible employee the earlier you begin educating yourself and gathering as much information as possible about how your benefits will work in retirement the better off you will be.  Due to the complexity of the FERS and CSRS programs Federal and Postal employees may wish to speak with a financial expert who has a clear understanding of the FERS, CSRS, FEGLI and your TSP.gov account.

 

When is the ‘Right Time’ to start planning for retirement?

As the adage goes – The best time to plant a shade tree was 40 years ago.  The second best time is right now.

Although our early years are not typically spent planning for retirement, they should be.  Retirement planning is a very important component of the work-life cycle.  The earlier we start building your nest egg (such as making contributions to your TSP.gov account), the longer it will be able to grow for you.  Not only will your work and your savings begin to add up, but the compound growth that can take place over time means that your money is working for you.  Reviewing your TSP.gov account regularly and making sure that your the investments and the ‘allocation’ you have matches your desired retirement plan is a must.
The first day of your first full-time adult job is when you should start your retirement planning.  Don’t just take that myriad of papers handed to you by Human Resources and stuff them in your desk drawer.  Read them, ask questions and learn what you can do right away.  And absolutely, make contributions to your TSP.gov account.
Although it is never too late to start preparing to retire well, the earlier we start the greater our options and opportunities to design the kind of life we want to live in retirement.  Your TSP.gov account and other investments are important when you are younger but they grow even more important as you get closer to retirement.  This is when a financial professional can help you ensure that your retirement goals and income needs will be met.

 

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

 

Will your income will be enough in retirement?

Are your TSP funds getting you to where you need to be?

For eligible employees your Social Security Benefits are incredibly important to your financial health.

 

 

Medicare Enrollment

If you are eligible for Social Security Benefit payments at age 65 you will automatically receive a Medicare card in the mail. You don’t have to apply. Medicare enrollment has never been easier.

Medicare enrollmentWhat does being eligible for Social Security benefits mean?  It means that you must have acquired 40 credits through either you or your spouse’s work under a Medicare covered employment. With this requirement in mind, it is not difficult to qualify for Medicare enrollment.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) work in collaboration to determine eligibility along with information communicated via the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  Age 62 represents the first point of eligibility to qualify for Social Security benefits if you have payed into Social Security and accumulated 40 credits.

Paychecks in past years only showed FICA deductions.  In more recent years, clarity has been achieved by representing Medicare and Social Security separately; 1.45% deduction for Medicare and 6.20% for Social Security, making it much easier for employees to understand.

However, if you are not eligible for Social Security, you will not automatically receive a Medicare card in the mail, you will have to apply for Medicare.  This is important to those Federal employees and retirees who are not eligible for Social Security for one reason or the other but still wish to pursue Medicare enrollment.  Three months prior to your 65th birthday, you should file your application for benefits during the 7 month initial enrollment period.

If you are unclear about the deductions on your paycheck or the specifics of Medicare enrollment, go to your Human Resources Office immediately for clarity. Checking on what deductions are being withheld from your check is imperative.  It should be a part of your annual financial checkup. Having a thorough understanding of payroll deductions is a clear path to retiring well.

 

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

 

Learn about your Medicare benefits

Medicare Advantage

What is Medicare Advantage (Part C):

Medicare AdvantageIn addition to Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B, you should be educated about Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage plans;

  • Are not a supplemental insurance.
  • Cover all the same services as Original Medicare except for hospice services.
  • Traditionally cover many of the same benefits as a Medigap policy.
  • Are managed by private insurance companies approved by Medicare.
  • Require you be enrolled in Parts A and B to benefit from Medicare Advantage.
  • Do not erase your Original Medicare coverage.
  • Allow you to avoid the need for a Medigap policy.

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

 

Qualifying for Medicare

Qualifying for Medicare requires more than just reaching Age 65

Qualifying for MedicareAge 65 does not automatically qualify you to receive Medicare.  Age 65 is one of the eligibility criteria, but does not automatically qualify you to receive the benefit. Qualifying for Medicare is not as simple as many people believe. You must not only meet the age requirement, but either you or your spouse must have worked at least 10 years in a Medicare-covered employment in order to receive what is commonly referred to as free-Medicare-Part A (Hospital Insurance).
Working for 10 years under a Medicare covered employment provides you with the 40 credits, previously called quarters, needed to qualify.  On average, an employee earns 4 credits per year of employment, accumulating 40 credits in 10 years.
As of January 1, 1983, if you were a federal employee, you automatically qualify for Medicare.  Even if you do not qualify for Part A (premium free), the Social Security Administration might be able to direct you as to how you can obtain Part A of Medicare. Make sure to explore every option to ensure you will be qualifying for Medicare.
P. S.  Always Remember To Share What You Know.

 

For information on FEHB and Medicare please see the attached

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