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Posted on Wednesday, 30th October 2019 by

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The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Open Season for selecting our 2020 healthcare plans runs from November 11th through December 9th this year. There are tools available to evaluate provider options, select your 2020 plan, and submit changes to OPM. Use the following resources to make an informed decision for you and your family’s health care needs.

 

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections.

Obtain Copies of Plan Guides (Active Employees)

  • Request hard copies of desired plan brochures through your benefits coordinator. If you don’t know who that is talk with your supervisor.
  • Download plan brochures from the OPM website.
  • Request copies direct from plan providers. I typically request and receive brochures direct from GEHA and Blue Cross Blue Shield weeks before they are available on the OPM site.

Annuitants (Retirees)

  • Sign up for FEHB Open Season Online – This site is devoted to federal annuitants. Request plan brochures to be mailed to your home address or you can download brochures to your computer. You must register to use this site and annuitants can change enrollments online.
  • Download plan brochures from the OPM website.
  • Request copies direct from plan providers.

Determine Plan Costs – The 2020 FEHB Plan Rates are posted online.

Compare Plans – Use OPM’s FEHB Plan Comparison Tool.  Compare costs and benefits of up to 4 plans side-by-side. It is easy to use and will show you the differences between plans with only a few keystrokes. OPM advises, “The information contained in this comparison tool is not the official statement of benefits. Before making your final enrollment decision, always refer to the individual FEHB brochures. Each plan’s FEHB brochure is the official statement of benefits. Items marked with an * must be completed before advancing to the health plan comparison.” 

Changing Enrollment  

Annuitants (Retirees)

  • Annuitants can change plans online at FEHB Open Season Online. The online service is easy to use and you can track your change submissions.
  • Call Open Season Express 1-800-332-9798.
  • Send regular mail (Postmarked no later than final date of Open Season) to:
    Office of Personnel Management Open Season Processing Center
    P.O. Box 5000
    Lawrence, KS 66046-0500

    When sending requests by mail clearly state your Open Season request. If you are making an enrollment change, be sure to tell OPM the plan you want, the type of coverage (Self Only, Self Plus One or Family), and the enrollment code. You must include your annuity claim number and social security number on your request. If you are choosing Self Plus One or Family coverage, OPM will also need your dependent and other insurance information.

Federal Employees

Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

Dental and vision benefits are available to eligible Federal and Postal employees, retirees, and their eligible family members on an enrollee-pay-all basis. Enrollment takes place during the annual Federal Benefits Open Season in November and December. New and newly eligible employees can enroll within the 60 days after they become eligible. Register online at www.BENEFEDS.com to review and download plan brochures, use their plan comparison tool, and to initiate a change or cancel enrollment.

If you aren’t a registered user sign up now. You will be able to review your Dental, Vision, Long Term Care and Flexible Spending accounts. Enrollees can initiate changes during open season, when there is a life event change, or to cancel coverage at any time. For enrollment/premium questions regarding dental and vision insurance, contact BENEFEDS at 1(877) 888-3337.

Medicare Impact on FEHB Plans Review the following articles that describe the impact Medicare has on your FEHB provider payments.

Scheduling A Retirement Benefits Seminar

Federal Employee Benefits Advocates (FEBA) provides comprehensive benefits briefings for Federal employees so they can make informed retirement decisions. Briefings include information on CSRS or FERS Retirement Annuities and all insurance programs including Medicare, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Social Security, disability and other relevant retirement planning topics.

Schedule A Seminar in Your Area

Benefits Administration Letter 11-104 requires agencies to educate employees on how to plan for retirement. FEBA assists Federal agencies to comply with this directive. HR departments can Contact FEBA to schedule briefings for their area.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in BENEFITS / INSURANCE, ESTATE PLANNING, FINANCE / TIP, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE, SURVIVOR INFORMATION, WELLNESS / HEALTH

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Posted on Thursday, 24th October 2019 by

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Many of us don’t necessarily think twice about security surrounding our health care; instead, we want care to be easy and affordable. Recently, new fraud and scam warnings have surfaced surrounding the Medicare program, particularly during open season, which began on October 15. Those ‘scammers’ are seeking critical insurance data and financial information along with passwords that will provide access to your account. These precautions also apply to the  FEHB Open Season that runs from November 11h through December 9th.

Claim Your Retirement Benefits Briefing – Check Availability

Your personal information provides opportunities for these criminals. Emails and/or calls to unsuspecting consumers produce confidential data to include social security numbers, Medicare numbers and more, that foster fraudulent claims by the perpetrators. Medicare’s Tips to Prevent Fraud page recommends participants protect their Medicare Number and Social Security Numbers, use a calendar to record all of your doctor’s appointments and any tests you get, and know what your health care plan can and can’t do before joining.  Our FEHB Plans provide comprehensive brochures outlining all of our benefits. Review them to ensure you are signing up for the benefits you need before enrolling. I recommend downloading a copy or request a printed copy of your FEHB Plan brochure and keep it with your medical records.

It is further recommended that you don’t:

  • Give your confidential information such as Medicare, Social Security, and FEHB provider cards or numbers, including your CSA retirement ID number to anyone except people you know should have it.
  • Accept offers of money or gifts for free medical care.
  • Allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
  • Contact your doctor to request a service that you don’t need.

Scammers often pose as employees of government and private organizations to obtain sensitive and/or personal information. This key data then enables the perpetrators to apply for benefits, submit false claims for monetary return or even steal identities.

Often, around FEHB Open Season, many insurers try to entice retirees that have Federal Employee Healthcare Benefits (FEHB) and are enrolled in traditional Medicare A & B to switch to a Medicare Supplement Plan. Federal retirees need to be cautious and weigh all options carefully. Medicare Supplement Plans are not Medicare Advantage Part C plans and you risk losing your FEHB coverage or the ability to return to the program which could prove to be catastrophic. Here is a series of articles that I wrote on this subject that can help you determine what is best for you and your circumstances:

The public should be aware that no one from Medicare would attempt to contact beneficiaries asking for their Medicare or Social Security numbers. Instead, consumers should simply hang up on those callers and not respond to any correspondence or emails that are received under such false pretenses. You may also receive emails or calls alleging that your bank or credit card account has been compromised and they ask you for confidential information. Hang up and contact the bank or establishment in question if you are concerned about a security breach.

Medicare never sends their employees to an individual’s home to obtain data or sell supplemental health care plans; Medicare numbers and personal information should only be given to a pharmacist, doctor or other trusted members of Medicare, period.

In order to protect your Medicare benefits and personal data, it is recommended that your Medicare card be treated like a debit or credit card; review statements, check claim summary forms, routinely look for erroneous information and/or errors in your account in order to report issues. Also, check medications carefully while at the pharmacy, and be aware of any other activities surrounding Medicare billing and/or coverages. Any suspected fraud or abuse should be reported immediately, either by calling 1-800-633-4227 or by going to the following link to fill out a report: https://www.oig.hhs.gov/fraud/report-fraud/.

Request a Federal Retirement Report

Retirement planning specialists provide a comprehensive Federal Retirement Report™ including annuity projections, expenditures verses income, with a complete benefits analysis. This comprehensive 27-page benefits summary will help you plan your retirement.

Request Your Personalized Federal Retirement Report™ Today

Find answers to your questions: The best time to retire, retirement income vs expenditures, FEGLI options and costs, TSP risks and withdrawal strategies, and other relevant topics. Determine what benefits to carry into retirement and their advantages. You will also have the opportunity to set up a personal one-on-one meeting with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

 

Note: Dr. Donna Day, one of our guest writers, coauthored this article.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in ANNUITIES / ELIGIBILITY, BENEFITS / INSURANCE, ESTATE PLANNING, FINANCE / TIP, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE, SURVIVOR INFORMATION

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Posted on Saturday, 12th October 2019 by

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I reported in mid-September that our 2020 COLA was projected to be 1.6% according to Kiplinger’s. They were spot on. The Social Security Administration announced a 1.6% COLA increase on October 10th for 2020. CSRS and FERS annuitants will all receive the full 1.6% this year.  

Request a  Federal Retirement Report  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections.

2020 Annuity Projection Calculator Update

Everyone planning their retirement needs to know how much they will have to live on in retirement and how much their annuity and the surviving spouse’s benefit will grow over time. Unlike many private sector retirement plans, our annuities are adjusted annually – most years – with a COLA. The 45-year average COLA, from 1975 to through 2020, was 3.68%! Not bad considering so many private company plans provide no annual increase.

I entered a 2019 annuity of $50,000 as an example on the chart and selected an average 2% growth rate. After 10 years the projected annuity with survivor’s benefits grew to $60,949, $5,079 monthly. The survivor’s benefit for CSRS would be $37,082 or $3,090 monthly in this example.  A 2% growth rate increased the annual annuity amount by $10,949 over ten years from 2019 through 2029! Not bad. You can run different scenarios on this spreadsheet based on your personal situation.

Frank Cullen, a retired FAA manager and friend, developed this spreadsheet. He used it when he was retiring to project his annuity and survivor’s benefit for a period of 40 years from the date he retired. Frank updates this spreadsheet for us and with a few minor adjustments you can adapt this to FERS as well. The updated Annuity Calculator, version 1.6 dated October 2019, projects your annual and monthly annuity payment with survivor benefit, without survivor benefit, and the projected survivor annuity. The projections are based on your annuity at the time you retire and a selected growth rate (COLA). All COLAs for the past 45 years, back to 1975, are listed on the spreadsheet with the average 2, 3, 5, 10 – and 42-year COLA factors that you can consider for your personal calculation.

I used this spreadsheet when I retired and it proved accurate 10 years into my retirement. The 2% growth rate I used and the projections would have been right on had we not had 2 years without COLAs. The spreadsheet provides insight into how much a survivor’s annuity reduces your monthly benefit and what your spouse can expect to receive when the annuitant dies.

With CSRS a full survivor’s annuity is 55% of the full annuity not 55% of what you were collecting as a couple.  A CSRS full survivor’s annuity costs you just under 10% of your monthly payment however the survivor’s annuity is calculated from the full annuity prior to the survivor’s reduction. Therefore, a CSRS surviving spouse can expect to receive about 61% of what the couple was receiving prior to the annuitant’s death.  Also, if an annuitant’s spouse dies, the annuitant would notify OPM and their annuity would be restored to the full amount that is listed on the spreadsheet. OPM does not refund any prior survivor annuity deductions when an annuitant’s spouse dies.

For FERS employees the projected annuity without a survivor’s benefit will be the same; just enter your annuity estimate, enter your age, year of retirement, what you consider to be a realistic growth rate, and the spreadsheet will calculate your annuity for the next 40 years! The column reserved for your projected annuity with survivor benefits will be slightly lower since the maximum spousal benefit is 50% for FERS, not the 55% for CSRS. Also, the full FERS annuity will cost the retiree a little more because FERS employees pay 10% of their annuity for a full survivor’s benefit where CSRS pay just under 10%. FERS COLAs are adjusted down when the COLA exceeds 2%.

To determine what your initial retirement annuity will be request estimates from Human Resources for several target retirement dates. I requested at least a half dozen estimates two years before I retired. You can also calculate your estimated FERS annuity or CSRS annuity using the formulas we have available on our site.

All you need to do is enter the appropriate values in the four highlighted cells.  The spreadsheet will do the rest for you.  The spreadsheet is locked except for the 4 highlighted entry cells.  This is to ensure that formulas are not inadvertently altered.  The form’s password is provided on the spreadsheet so those familiar with Excel can adapt the spreadsheet as desired.

Scheduling A Retirement Benefits Seminar

Federal Employee Benefits Advocates (FEBA) provides comprehensive benefits briefings for Federal employees so they can make informed retirement decisions. Briefings include information on CSRS or FERS Retirement Annuities and all insurance programs including Medicare, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Social Security, disability and other relevant retirement planning topics.

Schedule A Seminar in Your Area

Benefits Administration Letter 11-104 requires agencies to educate employees on how to plan for retirement. FEBA assists Federal agencies to comply with this directive. HR departments can Contact FEBA to schedule briefings for their area.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in ANNUITIES / ELIGIBILITY, BENEFITS / INSURANCE, ESTATE PLANNING, FINANCE / TIP, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SURVIVOR INFORMATION

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Posted on Sunday, 6th October 2019 by

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Each year we publish a comprehensive leave record that federal employees can use to track their annual and sick leave, comp, and credit hours. Our updated 2020 Excel Leave Chart is designed for active federal employees that are planning their retirement and need to establish realistic target retirement dates. The new Excel 2020 Leave Record Spreadsheet also helps federal employees maximize their annuity through prudent management of their leave balances.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections.

Please share our 2020 leave chart with everyone in your organization. The chart tracks all leave balances and you are able to annotate your work schedule on the chart as well. Simply download the spreadsheet to your desk top for easy access.

Download the 2020 Leave Record Chart

A few leave chart users reported a problem with opening the spreadsheet last year, the Excel chart was opening in protected mode and they were not able to enter data. If your spreadsheet opens in protected view click the “enable editing” button in the yellow bar at the top of the form. However, if you don’t see the enable editing button you may have an older version of Excel or your IT department may have to allow the form to pass without restrictions. We also included a newer slsx workbook version that you can use if you have problems with the earlier version.

A Microsoft Office consulting firm advised us that If the spreadsheet only opens in the protected view status and the newer slsx version doesn’t correct the problem talk with your IT staff. Some agencies increase their security settings to lock out certain documents based on set parameters. We include several hyperlinks in our spreadsheet to link users to additional supporting information such as our sick leave conversion chart and that may be the cause.

Scheduling A Retirement Benefits Seminar

Federal Employee Benefits Advocates (FEBA) provides comprehensive benefits briefings for Federal employees so they can make informed retirement decisions. Briefings include information on CSRS or FERS Retirement Annuities and all insurance programs including Medicare, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Social Security, disability and other relevant retirement planning topics.

Schedule A Seminar in Your Area

Benefits Administration Letter 11-104 requires agencies to educate employees on how to plan for retirement. FEBA assists Federal agencies to comply with this directive. HR departments can Contact FEBA to schedule briefings for their area.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in ANNUITIES / ELIGIBILITY, BENEFITS / INSURANCE, FINANCE / TIP, RETIREMENT CONCERNS

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Posted on Friday, 4th October 2019 by

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Our government reports that inflation is low yet every time we turn around prices are increasing.  I often ponder why our COLAs are so low most years when we know from firsthand experience that the costs of almost everything is going through the roof. We purchased a new car in 2016, a luxury model at a year end sale. The dealer contacted us about trading up to their new 2020 model. The new sticker price is 20 percent higher for a comparable model! That’s outrageous.

 

 

When my son and I go golfing I typically buy breakfast. I couldn’t believe the prices they charge for a small breakfast these days; on average $6 to $9 for little more than two eggs, toast, sausage and home fries. If you add coffee you are talking about $10 a person!

One of the ways the government justifies the artificially low inflation rate is by adjusting large ticket items, like new car prices, for what they consider improvements from the previous year. If the manufacturer adds a new safety feature or offers higher gas mileage, they adjust the price to compensate.  Regardless how they adjust things, the reality is we are paying MORE for everything. Fortunately, there are ways to economize that can compensate for higher prices. It just takes a little time and research but it can be done.

We are use to paying more for everything these days so it shouldn’t be a surprise to everyone that our Federal Employee’s Health Benefits (FEHB) premiums are going to rise and substantially in some cases. (OPM) announced this week that for plan year 2020, the average total premiums for current non-Postal employees and retirees enrolled in plans under the FEHB Program will increase 4.0 percent.

The Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) premiums for dental plans will increase on average by 5.6 percent, and the overall average premium for vision plans will increase by 1.5 percent.

The new rates are now posted online. My wife and I are enrolled in the Nationwide GEHA Standard Self Plus One Plan. Their premium is increasing 3% from $273.83 a month to $282.05. Brochures won’t be out for a while through OPM. The providers often have the brochures available earlier, call them to request a copy.  The Nationwide Blue Cross and Blue Shield Basic Self Plus One premium increased 4.5% to $386.99 per month. Many of the HMO plans increased more, for example the Pennsylvania UPMC HMO Health Plan Self Plus One Basic premium increased just under 7% to $421.91 per month, a $29.26 increase over last year.

OPM’s Plan Comparison Tool can help enrollees shop for coverage and will be available for 2020 plans beginning the first full week of November.

To reduce costs many signing up for Medicare Part B consider converting their FEHB coverage to a lower cost option. The article I wrote titled A Marriage of Convenience – Medicare & FEHB will help those approaching 65 determine what FEHB coverage will be most cost effective and provide the best coverage.

Request a Federal Retirement Report

Retirement planning specialists provide a comprehensive Federal Retirement Report™ including annuity projections, expenditures verses income, with a complete benefits analysis. This comprehensive 27-page benefits summary will help you plan your retirement.

Request Your Personalized Federal Retirement Report™ Today

Find answers to your questions: The best time to retire, retirement income vs expenditures, FEGLI options and costs, TSP risks and withdrawal strategies, and other relevant topics. Determine what benefits to carry into retirement and their advantages. You will also have the opportunity to set up a personal one-on-one meeting with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

 

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in BENEFITS / INSURANCE, FINANCE / TIP, LIFESTYLE / TRAVEL, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE, SURVIVOR INFORMATION

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Posted on Sunday, 15th September 2019 by

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We can look forward to a COLA increase for 2020 of between 1.6% to 1.8%, a significant decrease from last year’s 2.8%. The Social Security Administration estimated a 1.8% increase and the July issue of Kiplinger magazine suggested it may be lower at 1.6% based on their projections.

The Social Security Act specifies a formula for determining each COLA. According to the formula, COLAs are based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). CPI-Ws are calculated on a monthly basis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the Socials Security Administration, a COLA effective for December of the current year is equal to the percentage increase (if any) in the CPI-W from the average for the third quarter of the current year to the average for the third quarter of the last year in which a COLA became effective. The fourth quarter isn’t used to determine the upcoming year’s COLA because that number isn’t available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics until mid to late January. Our COLAs are adjusted on January 1 before the 4th quarter data is available.

Health Care Open Season The 2019 Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) open season will run from November 11 through December 9, 2019.  Each year Open Season runs from the Monday of the second full workweek in November through the Monday of the second full workweek in December. Health care service providers are required to submit benefit and rate proposals for the contract term beginning January 1, 2020 on or before May 31, 2019. OPM generally completes negotiations in August so we should have updates and new rates shortly. When they are published, I will send out a message to all subscribers.

OPM encourages all carriers to thoroughly evaluate options every year with a focus on improving affordability, reducing costs, improving the quality of care, and protecting the health of their enrolled populations. Any proposed benefit enhancements must be offset by proposed reductions so that premiums are not increased due to benefit changes. Premium increases are inevitable for most participants again this year.

Retirees can Connect to FEHB Open Season Online to review brochures, pricing and submit changes starting in early November. You can actually chat with a Customer Service Representative using their “Live Help” feature.

Jobs Update (Retiree Opportunities) 

Employers continue to recruit federal retirees and post their job vancancies on our Jobs Board. You will find listings for both part and full time positions at locations nationwide. Those with security clearances also have many opportunities to consider. With an unemployment rate of 3.7% the country is at full employment. The only way for companies to find more employees is to attract those who voluntarily stopped working, including retirees. We recently added a part-time Business Development Manager postion for Sams Inc at their College Park, MD location.  Visit our jobs board to explore opportunities in your area.

Request a Federal Retirement Report Retirement planning specialists provide a comprehensive Federal Retirement Report™ including annuity projections, expenditures verses income, with a complete benefits analysis. This comprehensive 27-page benefits summary will help you plan your retirement.

Request Your Personalized Federal Retirement Report™ Today

Find answers to your questions: The best time to retire, retirement income vs expenditures, FEGLI options and costs, TSP risks and withdrawal strategies, and other relevant topics. Determine what benefits to carry into retirement and their advantages. You will also have the opportunity to set up a personal one-on-one meeting with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER. Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in BENEFITS / INSURANCE, ESTATE PLANNING, FINANCE / TIP, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE, SURVIVOR INFORMATION

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Posted on Sunday, 1st September 2019 by

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I often receive questions from retirees desiring to return to work and from agency HR departments interested in hiring former federal employees.  Agency recruiters are trying whatever they can to fill critical positions.  With an unemployment rate of 3.7% the country is at full employment. One of the ways to fill critical positions is to hire those who voluntarily stopped working, including retirees.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Returning to work can supplement your Annuity, Social Security, and TSP payouts down the road. Federal retirees can go back to work in the private sector without any impact on their federal annuity. You will continue to receive your full annuity and all benefits if you decide to work in the private sector after retiring from federal service. This includes working for contractors that provide services to the federal sector. However, if you should return to work with a federal agency your pay will be reduced by the amount of your annuity in most cases. There are exceptions to this for certain critical positions. The rules for rehired annuitants are outlined below for CSRS and FERS retirees.

There are instances where your annuity will be stopped under certain conditions and you will be covered as a regular employee. The rules are complex and if you are considering returning to federal employment review the guidance listed above. Discuss any concerns you may have with the hiring HR department. They can obtain clarifications from OPM if needed.

Agencies can also hire retired federal workers under Personal Service Contracts that will not impact your annuity. These contracts are designed for completing specific tasks for a predetermined compensation rate within a set time limit.

An agency HR department recently hired a retiree and they questioned why the individual couldn’t suspend his FEHB plan he had in retirement and take the FEHB plans they offered. The rehired annuitant wanted to take advantage of the FEHB Premium Conversion feature. Retirees don’t get the same FEHB premium tax break that active federal employees have. Federal employee’s contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and their FEHB premiums are excluded from gross pay before Federal Income taxes are applied. 

If you are reemployed in Federal service in a position that conveys FEHB eligibility, you may have the opportunity to participate in premium conversion. If you participate in premium conversion, your enrollment can be transferred from your Retirement System to your employing agency. Your FEHB premiums will be deducted from your pay on a pre-tax basis as an employee not from your annuity. When you separate from reemployment, your retirement system will transfer in your enrollment. You wouldn’t suspend FEHB coverage you would transfer coverage to your new employer. Review the following reference for additional guidance. 

CSRS / FERS Hanbook Chapter 100  (page 51- 53 and 55 – 57)

You can only suspend FEHB coverage under the following conditions:

If you suspend your FEHB enrollment because you are now covered by a Medicare Advantage plan, TRICARE, CHAMPVA, Medicaid or similar State-sponsored medical assistance program, or Peace Corps Volunteer coverage, you can restart your FEHB in the future. These are the only exceptions that allow retirees to suspend FEHB coverage. The following links provide additional information on the FEHB suspension process:

If you are interested in going back to work for Uncle Sam contact agency HR departments in your area to determine if there are any openings in your specialty. You can return to work at any agency, not just the one you retired from as long as you have the required qualifications for the position applied for. There are other advantages to going back to work, especially for those who wish to start a small business. You can Return to Work and Receive a Tax Break! Use our Jobs Board to explore all opportunities in your area.

Scheduling A Retirement Benefits Seminar

Federal Employee Benefits Advocates (FEBA) provides comprehensive benefits briefings for Federal employees so they can make informed retirement decisions. Briefings include information on CSRS or FERS Retirement Annuities and all insurance programs including Medicare, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Social Security, disability and other relevant retirement planning topics. 

Schedule A Seminar in Your Area

Benefits Administration Letter 11-104 requires agencies to educate employees on how to plan for retirement. FEBA assists Federal agencies to comply with this directive. HR departments can Contact FEBA to schedule briefings for their area.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in ANNUITIES / ELIGIBILITY, BENEFITS / INSURANCE, EMPLOYMENT OPTIONS, FINANCE / TIP, LIFESTYLE / TRAVEL, RETIREMENT CONCERNS, SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE, SURVIVOR INFORMATION

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Posted on Saturday, 17th August 2019 by

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On September 15th the TSP will implement new withdrawal options for all participants. I published an article last March titled TSP Changes & Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) discussing the pending changes and how RMDs will be handled under the new rules.

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections.

You will have more options for how and when you can access money from your TSP account. These options fall into the following categories:

  • After you separate from service, you can take multiple post-separation partial withdrawals.
  • If you’re 59½ or older and still working in federal civilian or uniformed service, you can take up to four in-service withdrawals each year.
  • You’ll be able to choose whether your withdrawal should come from your Roth balance, your traditional balance, or a proportional mix of both.
  • You will no longer need to make a full withdrawal election after you turn 70½ and are separated from federal service. (You will still need to receive IRS required minimum distributions (RMDs).
  • If you’re a separated participant, you’ll be able to take monthly, quarterly, or annual payments.
  • You’ll be able stop, start, or make changes to your installment payments at any time.
  • You’ll have enhanced online tools to help you make withdrawals in the My Account section of tsp.gov.

If you visit the TSP site the current withdrawal options are still listed, this will change on or about September 15th.  To fully understand the new withdrawal options, download the TSP’s “Questions and Answers About Changes to the TSP Withdrawal Options.”  Print a copy of this document for your records so you will have it available when it comes time to withdraw your first RMD at age 70 ½ or require funds at any time from your account. I withdrew my first RMD this past month. If you call the TSP at 1-877-968-3778, they will provide the amount you need to withdraw for your RMD to avoid an income tax penalty. Before leaving the TSP evaluate your options. Here is a list of articles and resources that you may find helpful when considering leaving the Thrift Savings Plan.

Jobs Update (Retiree Opportunities) Employers continue to recruit federal retirees and those soon to retire. A number of companies post job vacancies on our Jobs Board and you will find listings for both part and full time positions at locations nationwide. Those with security clearances also have many opportunities to consider. The good news for anyone that wants to work is that “For Hire” signs are posted everywhere today. With an unemployment rate of 3.7% the country is at full employment. The only way for companies to find more employees is to attract those who voluntarily stopped working, including retirees. Wages are increasing so that is good news for anyone interested in supplementing their retirement income. We recently added a Senior EHS Specialist position with AECOM. They need specialists at West Point, PA, Durham, NC and Elkton, VA that may interest some of our newsletter subscribers. Visit our jobs board to explore opportunities in your area.

Helpful Retirement Planning Tools / Resources

Request a  Federal Retirement Report™  today to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections

Disclaimer:Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.

Posted in ANNUITIES / ELIGIBILITY, ESTATE PLANNING, FINANCE / TIP, RETIREMENT CONCERNS

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