FEGLI Open Season Update
A number of our subscribers have sent questions about the upcoming FEGLI Open Season  and are not sure what options to consider. Open season runs from September 1 through September 30, 2016. It’s time to review your current insurance coverage and determine your true insurance needs before it’s too late. You can’t increase coverage after you retire. Open season allows you to add insurance without the need for a physical or medical certification.
There are many variables to consider. For example, the FEGLI’s Basic coverage premium, your salary plus $2000, is reasonable. If you elect the 75% reduction in retirement at age 65 your coverage begins decreasing to 25% of your total coverage. Your premiums stop at age 65, the policy is paid up from that time forward. They also allow you to carry 50 or 100 percent coverage into retirement however you will still have to pay premiums if you elect these options.
The first essential step is to evaluate your personal situation and insurance needs. The article titled Evaluating Your Insurance Needs  will help you determine exactly what coverage you need for you and your family. Additional insurance is needed especially if you have young children, a disabled child, a spouse that is considerably younger or other special circumstances. If you and your spouse are on your own many opt to carry just enough to cover final expenses, pay off outstanding loans and bills, and to settle an estate.
After determining your needs read the following articles to understand what FEGLI coverage is best for you and the associated costs. I wish I would have had this information when the last open season was held in 2004, just before I retired. I would have signed up for additional coverage.
- FEGLI Open Season 
- FEGLI Retirement Options  (Part 1)
- FEGLI Insurance Options  (Part 2) Options A, B and C
- FEGLI Insurance Life Event Changes  (Part 3)
- FEGLI Rate Changes 
Check out your options carefully. This may be the last time you will have to make these changes before retiring.
Long Term Care Rate Increase Update
I can’t tell you how many readers emailed about their personal LTC premium increases. The premium hikes are outrageous and it doesn’t stop there. Our Medicare bill has increased dramatically for Part B this year because I’m not going to take Social Security until I’m 70 and due to high income adjusted premiums, most didn’t have an increase. It seems that every time we turn around we are either getting hit with increased taxes, insurance & medical premiums, and on top of that… NO ANNUAL COLA! They reported recently that it is highly unlikely a COLA will be issued in 2017.
That being said, long term care is often an essential part of one’s estate plan…, it is important. My wife and I are going to elect the reduced benefit amount and our premiums will stay about the same, a dollar less each month. Without it we could end up burdening our family and draining our estate. Hopefully, we will never have to use it. This will drop our coverage from five to three years and the daily amount decreases to $194. My original article on LTC  was published a month before the new rate increase and I mentioned that our premiums had increased just over 100% since we started the program back in 2003. The latest increase hiked the premium in less than 6 months another 100%! If I tried to do that in my business I would be out-of-business overnight.
Tammy Flanagan wrote an article titled Long Term Care Insurance: What Should You Do About Rate Hikes?  that you will find informative. She too has federal LTC coverage along with her husband. Tammy writes for Government Executive Magazine and we keep in touch on a number of subjects.
Several that wrote me about their increase wanted to form a group to voice their concerns to Congress and OPM. The group that fights for and represents us is NARFE, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. I’ve been a member for many years and without them we would not have the voice we do in Congress.
NARFE is also fighting to eliminate or reduce WEP that impacts most retired CSRS annuitants Social Security benefits and there is a good chance that will happen this year. They have a legislature hot line, have groups in many areas that actually meet with their congressman about subjects like this. Members are encourage to join these groups and become active members that lobby Congress about key issues like this.
I suggest that active and retired federal employees join NARFE  if you haven’t already. Their web site address is www.narfe.org. They need to increase membership to maintain their lobbying efforts. it isn’t expensive and you receive a monthly magazine with a lot of information for active employees and annuitants. I’ve called my congressman and discussed this with him last week and now that Congress is in recess NARFE groups across the country will be meeting with them at home about WEP, LTC and a host of other issues.
Life Style – Activity Counts
Even though I’m still a desk jockey at age 67 I’m in good health overall. I’ve been close to the same weight for the last 30 years or more. Prior to retiring I was trapped in my FAA office often loosing track of time and spending most of the day tied to a desk.
After retiring from federal service I expanded my part time business to full time and am still committed to working many hours at my desk but on my terms. I’m able to take breaks and go shopping with my wife, visit and watch the grand children as needed, travel, and still work 30 to 40 hours a week.
I rarely sit still and must have something to do while I’m sitting there. I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. I’ve never been able to sleep once the sun is up and get up at 6:15 am ready for the day ahead. Most days I’m in my office by 7:15 reviewing reports and planning the day’s activities.
My nervous energy burns calories but I didn’t have a way to gauge approximately how much energy or calories that I was expending each day until April of this year. I purchased a FitBit One  for my wife and I and have been amazed at just how much Mary and I walk and stay active during our daily routines. It was eye opening and the FitBit gave us incentive to do even more and we compete daily against each other, friends, and family to see who walked more. In the past I tried pedometers however they proved to be unreliable.
I started using the FitBit One on April 24th and since then I walked 479.35 miles, averaging 4.84 miles per day (approximately 10,000 steps daily). Mary had her FitBit a week before me and she walked 507 miles, averaging just under 5 miles a day. The FitBit also measures activity levels by four categories; sedentary, lightly active, fairly active and very active. On average we had 4 hours of lightly active, 35 minutes of fairly active, and 20 minutes of very active time daily! You can also use the FitBit to track sleep and you can log your food and water intake. My best day was 18,000 steps, just over 8 miles.
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day and FitBit and other exercise-band companies use 10,000 steps as a starting target to maintain and improve your health. A recent Washington Post Article by Ariana Eunjung Cha  suggests one hour of exercise for 8 hours of sitting.
I like the FitBit One because it holds a charge for up to 7 days and you clip it on your pocket. The clip is strong and the unit reliable. I sync my wife’s to our smart phone and when we are walking it tracks each step and you can watch the count go up as you stroll along. They base the stride to your height and weight and it also measures calories burned based on your activity level. It even accounts for inactive time for calories. Your body burns calories all day, even when you are sleeping. The more activity the greater amount of calories burned each day.
Each Sunday morning I plug in our units into my computer’s USB port to charge them up, it takes about an hour. The one thing the FitBit One doesn’t do its monitor your heart rate, they do have wrist band models that will do that as well and I may buy one of them when this one wears out. If you decide to purchase one shop around, I purchased ours through Amazon.com Prime.
The best way to get started exercising is to simply walk wherever and whenever you can. My wife walks at least three 20 minute sessions mostly in the house plus all of the daily housework she does, the miles rack up. When the weather is nice, and cool, we walk outside. Housework and projects can add a lot to your statistics, ours does. Start with a realistic target, say 2500 steps a day if you are mostly inactive during the day. The Washington Post article mentioned that, “Those in the least-active bucket were active less than five minutes a day, while those who were most active exercised 60 to 75 minutes a day.” The article also states, “A new study suggests that to decrease mortality a person should exercise one hour for every eight hours they sit.”
The word exercise turns many off, think of it as simply getting up and staying ACTIVE. It doesn’t have to be at a gym or in an exercise class. You too will be surprised at just how much you are already doing once you start using the FitBit or other activity monitor.
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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.
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