WOW! They finally approved a COLA increase . It’s amazing how low they can go, .03 Percent for 2017. If your federal retirement annuity is $2,000 per month, you will see $6 more in your check. The average Social Security increase is $4 a month! The Federal Reserve continues to keep interest rates so low that savers, especially retirees, earn very little on their savings. It feels like a prolonged attack against savers and retirees and those most vulnerable. Many retirees can’t invest in higher risk investments for fear of losing their life savings and ability to live comfortably in retirement. Each year many find their savings evaporate because they earn close to zero on their core savings and must withdraw from those accounts to pay for prescriptions, medical premiums, and essentials.
Unfortunately many federal annuitants who also have Medicare B will find much higher premiums next year because they pay for their benefits direct, especially CSRS annuitants who may not be collecting Social Security. The hold harmless clause will protect most that now have Medicare premiums deducted from their Social Security payment each month. however, if you have an income adjusted premium or aren’t collecting Social Security and pay your Medicare premiums direct hold on to your hat, the increases are coming.
It was announced last week that many who are enrolled in the Affordable Health Care program will see premium increases of up to 50% or higher! Nothing much affordable about that! Thankfully our FEHB premiums  are only increasing an average of 4.4% in 2017.
2017 Federal Employee’s Excel Leave Chart
We published our new 2017 Federal Employee’s Leave Schedule  last week. This spreadsheet tracks accumulated annual, sick, comp, and credit hours and federal employees can include their work schedule on this updated spreadsheet. Just keep it on your desktop and update as you use or earn leave. The new 2017 spreadsheet helps you maximize your annuity through prudent management of your annual and sick leave balances . You can also select the Best 2017 Retirement Date  to maximize your annual leave lump sum payment.
Last year several reported that the chart wasn’t calculating fractional hours correctly. The Total columns for each type of leave were not wide enough and rounded the hours up to whole numbers. The columns were widened in the new 2017 chart and fractional hours now calculate correctly. Forward the 2017 Leave Chart to all in your organization, we update this chart annually.
Federal Employee’s Pay Raise and TSP Considerations
Federal employees are projected to receive an across-the-board raise of 1 percent, with an additional 0.6 percent adjusted for locality pay in 2017. If you are planning to retire over the next 3 to 5 years FERS employees should consider increasing their TSP account contributions to the maximum amount allowed, $18,000 in 2016 plus an additional $6,000 in catch-up contributions for those over 50. At the very least consider contributing at least half of each annual pay raise or step increase to your TSP account. If you are over 50 take advantage of the additional contributions. TSP funds  can be a real life saver for annuitants and it is generally recommended to fully fund your TSP account as soon as possible to build your retirement nest egg.
CSRS employees may only contribute 5% with no match however CSRS employees are permitted to contribute the additional $6,000 a year in catch-up contributions over age 50.
- Request a Federal Retirement Report™  today if you would like to review your projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections.
Helpful Retirement Planning Tools
Distribute these FREE tools to others that are planning their retirement
- Retirement Planning Guide 
- Master Retiree Contact List  (Important contact numbers and information)
- How to be Financially Prepared When You Retire 
- How to be Emotionally and Physically Prepared When You Retire 
- 2016 Leave & Schedule Excel Chart (FREE Excel chart tracks actual leave balances)
- Survivor’s Guide 
- Estate Planning Guide (An 11 part series that will help readers prepare for retirement, understand basic estate planning techniques, and compile their personal “Survivor’s Guide” binder.)
Visit our other informative sites
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 advisor. 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.
Last 5 posts by Dennis Damp
- Retiree Reflections 2020  - February 21st, 2020
- Determining Your 2019 Total Health Insurance Premium Payments  - February 14th, 2020
- Converting Unused Sick Leave (FERS & CSRS)  - February 7th, 2020
- Interim Retirement Checks & Retirement Application Processing Delays  - January 24th, 2020
- 1099R Tax Forms Available NOW!  - January 22nd, 2020
- Notice of Annuity Adjustment and 1099 R Tax Forms  - January 11th, 2020
- 3.1% GS 2020 Pay Raise – Pay Charts Now Available  - December 30th, 2019
- Safety, Health & Convenience – The Apple Watch Connection  - December 14th, 2019
- BCBS Basic to GEHA Standard Comparison + Medicare & You  - November 29th, 2019
- Open Season Health Plan Review & Changes  - November 24th, 2019
- The Ultimate Retirement Planning Guide – Start Now!  - November 15th, 2019
- 2020 FEHB Plan Selection Guide  - October 30th, 2019