Posted on Friday, 18th November 2011 by

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The Office of Personnel Management expects a number of agencies to request VERA and VSIP authority in FY 2012 after appropriations are finalized.  Agencies may face substantial budget cuts next year according to the OPM director. OPM is expediting requests for VSIP and early-outs and formed a special team to assist agencies with their requests. They hope to provide expedited approvals using this new process and some requests have been approved in just two days.

President Obama also signed an Executive Order cutting agency spending in the following areas:

1) Reduce Spending on Travel and Conferences: The Executive Order directs agencies to decrease travel and conference-related spending.

2) Cut Duplicative and Unnecessary Employee Information Technology Devices. This order limits the number of devices issued to employees and establishes new policies to ensure they are not paying for IT equipment that isn’t being used.

3) End Unnecessary Printing and Post It Online.

4) Limit Motor Vehicles: The Executive Order limits executive transportation across the federal government and directs agencies to improve the performance of the Federal fleet.

5) Stop Government Promotional Handouts.  Agencies are directed to stop wasting taxpayer money on non-essential items used for promotional purposes, such as clothing, mugs, and non-work related gadgets.

  • NOTE: Most spending for retiree gifts is from employee contributions, not government spending.

If you are offered a VERA or simply planning on a regular retirement in 2012 use our FREE excel leave chart to set several target retirement dates. Use this chart to determine exact leave balances for all target dates.

FEHB Open Season Help

Open season runs from November 14th through December 12th this year. In the past, many retirees found it difficult obtaining plan brochures during open season. Recently, OPM implemented a new service for retirees that has dramatically improved the availability of FEHB plan information and now allows retirees to manage their changes and enrollments online.  I visited their new site at to register and request plan brochures for my area on November 4, 2011 and received the requested material within the week.  This new service allows you to enroll, change, or reenroll in plans, view your transaction history, order hard copies of plan brochures, and download forms, letters and plan information. I found the site easy to use and very helpful.

One of our site visitors recently asked a question that many retirees face after leaving federal service.  Beverly is working in retirement and her new employer offers health care coverage.  She was thinking of canceling her FEHB coverage and wanted to know if she could restart it when she leaves the job she has now.

If you cancel your FEHB enrollment as an annuitant, you will never be able to reenroll in FEHB.  There are no exceptions for other employment insurance.  However, there is an exception if you suspend your FEHB enrollment because you are now covered by a Medicare Advantage plan, TRICARE, CHAMPVA, Medicaid or a similar State-sponsored medical assistance program, or Peace Corps Volunteer coverage, you can restart your FEHB in the future.

One of the main reasons for evaluating your current plan annually is to ensure that your doctors are members of that plan’s physician network.  In the Pittsburgh area Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and UPMC haven’t signed a new participation agreement and if they don’t come to terms UPMC physicians may not be available to Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan basic option participants.  I called Blue cross customer service and they assured me that UPMC physicians would be considered participating physicians through 2012. However, I still want to research this further before open season ends.

Employees planning to retire need to be aware of these cautionary notes concerning FEHB spousal coverage in retirement.  An annuitant can add their spouse to their FEHB plan without having a survivor benefitHowever, if the annuitant dies first, the surviving spouse can only continue the FEHB coverage if the annuitant elected a survivor annuity when they retired.  Another thing to consider: if the annuitant has self-only coverage and dies before the spouse, the spouse cannot continue FEHB coverage either.  For the spouse to continue FEHB coverage after you die there must be a spousal annuity payment and family coverage.  When the annuitant who elected a survival benefit and had family coverage dies, the surviving spouse’s FEHB premiums will drop dramatically as soon as they elect “Self Only” coverage.  There are different rules for FERS and CSRS survivor benefit elections that support FEHB coverage. Review them carefully to ensure your spouse will have the coverage desired.

Jobs For Retirees

We continue to post jobs from employers nationwide that are looking for retired federal employees. Many retirees supplement their retirement income with full or part time work and our Jobs Board continues to grow. Here are two of the new job listings that you may find interesting:

  • Coupon MerchandiserPermanent part-time job installing and maintaining coupon machines, floor ads and other on-shelf advertising signs in local grocery stores, drug stores and mass merchants.  Duties also include all merchandising jobs within your territory.  Territory includes Old Saybrook, Waterford and New London, CT.
  • Senior Security Technician – Nationwide (Multiple Positions). Technicians perform part-time, corrective maintenance on security equipment at federal facilities. Equipment includes access control, surveillance, intrusion detection, security intercom, and access video systems; metal detectors; and security barrier arms and gates.

Learn more about your benefitsemployment, travel, and financial planning issues on our site and visit our Blog frequently at to read all forum articles.

Request a Retirement Benefits Summary Analysis from a local adviser. Includes projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, and TSP projections. A sample analysis is available for your review. This service is not affiliated with

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The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and financial information is subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact your benefits coordinator and ask them to review your official personnel file and circumstances concerning this issue. Retirees can contact the OPM retirement center. Our articles are not intended nor should they be considered investment advice. Our reply is time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.

Last 5 posts by Dennis Damp


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