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Government plans - federal

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[Opinion] Sensible Medicare and Federal Employees Health Benefits Reform for All Annuitants
"The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 756) would force postal annuitants to buy Medicare insurance they neither need nor want. The Postal Service does need to address a serious retiree health care prefunding obligation imposed by Congress over a decade ago. But the problem can be resolved without forcing seniors to purchase insurance they do not need or want." (The Heritage Foundation)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Publication 721: Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits, for Use in Preparing 2016 Returns (PDF)
33 pages. "What's New: ... The phased retirement program was signed into law by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. This program allows eligible employees to begin receiving annuity payments while working part time." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
White House May Favor Cutting Federal Employee Retirement, Health Benefits
" 'Federal employee health and retirement benefits continue to be based on antiquated assumptions and require a level of generosity long since abandoned by most of the private sector,' [White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer] said. 'Those costs are unsustainable for the federal government, just as they are proving to be unsustainable for state and local governments with similar health and retirement packages.' " (Government Executive)
OPM Asks FEHBP Carriers to Focus on Rising Prescription Drug Use and Costs
"All insurance carriers participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program [FEHBP] in 2018 should continue their efforts to effectively manage prescription drug use among beneficiaries while trying to rein in escalating costs ... OPM wants carriers to 'reexamine' opportunities to reinforce or add to management techniques that help balance those dual goals, since rising drug prices and more prescription drug use in health care are driving up FEHBP premiums. According the agency, 25.5 percent of the FEHBP health care budget was spent on drugs in 2015." (Government Executive)
[Official Guidance] FEHB Program Carrier Letter for 2018 Contracts (PDF)
"This is our annual call for benefit and rate proposals from Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program carriers. You should submit your benefit and rate proposals for the contract term beginning January 1, 2018 on or before May 31, 2017. Please send your proposals to your Health Insurance Specialist via overnight mail, FAX, or email. We expect to complete benefit and rate negotiations by mid-August to ensure a timely Open Season." (U.S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM])
CRS Report: Background and Recent Developments in Military Retirement (PDF)
24 pages. "[T]he National Defense Authorization Act for FY2016 [adopted a] blended system [which] will allow more service members to accrue retirement savings earlier in their careers through contributions into the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) coupled with government matching ... It will also reduce the defined benefit multiplier for calculating the retirement annuity ... The new multiplier will provide service members retiring at 20 years of service with 40% of their base pay at retirement rather than 50% under the current system. The changes will go into effect on January 1, 2018." [Report RL34751, Jan. 6, 2017] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Administration Makes Long-Desired Change to Postal Service Pensions
"The U.S. Postal Service could finally have its payments into the federal employee pension account calculated using assumptions from its workforce specifically, rather than the federal workforce as a whole, which has long been a sticking point at the mailing agency." (Government Executive)
[Official Guidance] Text of OPM Proposed Regs: Federal Employees' Retirement System; Government Costs
"OPM proposes to ... [1] clarify the process by which the Secretary of the Treasury and the U.S. Postmaster General may file a request for the Board of Actuaries of the Civil Service Retirement System to reconsider an amount determined to be payable to the CSRDF with respect to a supplemental liability.... [2] amend its definition of 'actuary' ... [3] establish separate normal cost percentages for FERS, FERS-RAE and FERS-FRAE employees within each employee category ... [4] include members of the Capitol Police as 'Congressional Employees' for purposes of deriving separate normal cost percentages for this employee group.... [5] include U.S. Postal Service employees as a separate category for which OPM will derive normal cost percentages.... [6] establish the procedures and requirements for a request for reconsideration of a supplemental liability determination filed by the Secretary of the Treasury or the Postmaster General.... [7] refine its definitions of present value factor and actuarial present value ... to ensure that these definitions are uniform and appropriate." (U.S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM])
CBO Report Identifies Changes to Federal Retirement Benefits That Would Help to Reduce Deficit
"Among the policy options presented in [the 116-page CBO report] is one that would affect participants in FERS who retire in January 2018 or later.... The first alternative would change the calculation of retirees' annuities on the basis of participants' five consecutive years with the highest earnings from three consecutive years, which the report said would save a total of $2 billion from 2018 to 2026 ... The second alternative would be to eliminate the special retirement supplement." (Pensions & Investments)
Most Federal Employees Could Save $2000 or More by Switching Health Insurance
"Carriers have widely different claim dispute rates. For example, Blue Cross, NALC and SAMBA plans have about three to eight disputed claims for every 10,000 enrollees, while many plans have dispute rates that are twice as high. Plan comparisons vary significantly depending on age, family size and retirement status." (Government Executive)
[Official Guidance] Text of OPM Final Regs: Coverage for Certain Firefighters and Intermittent Emergency Response Personnel under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (PDF)
"This final rule provides eligibility for health insurance coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program to certain wildfire protection employees and certain intermittent emergency response personnel.... OPM recognizes that there may be other groups of employees not currently eligible for the FEHB Program because of the nature of their work schedules, but who are similarly situated to firefighting personnel in that they perform emergency response services. Accordingly, OPM has also added a new subsection (i) to its regulations that permits agencies to request that OPM extend FEHB coverage to such employees. OPM intends to construe this subsection narrowly, applying it only to employees engaged in emergency response services similar to the services being performed by those responding to the wildfires, and only when requested by their employing agencies." (U.S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM])
Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress (PDF)
20 pages. "Under both CSRS and FERS, Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at the age of 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. Members are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service.... There were 620 retired Members of Congress receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of October 1, 2015. Of this number, 344 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $74,136. A total of 276 Members had retired with service under FERS and were receiving an average annual pension of $41,316 in 2015." [Report RL30631, Nov. 10, 2016] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
As Costs Go Up, FEHBP Benefits Don't Keep Pace
"[OPM] recently announced that premiums under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program [FEHBP] would go up by an average of 4.4 percent, with an increase to the employee share of the premium of 6.2 percent.... According to [HHS], prescription drug spending is projected to rise by an average of 7.3 percent annually from 2013 to 2018." (Government Executive)
TRICARE Lowers Mental Health Care Co-Pays, Expands Treatment Options
"TRICARE retirees, as well as non-active duty dependents and survivors, generally will pay roughly half the co-payment for outpatient mental health care and substance abuse treatment -- from $25 to $12 per visit -- effective Oct. 3. 'Co-pays and cost-shares for inpatient mental health services will also be the same as for inpatient medical/surgical care,' said a press release." (Government Executive)
The Fed Offers A Generous Retirement Plan, But Funds It Responsibly
"For 2015, the Fed used a discount rate of 4.05%. Based on this discount rate, the Fed's retirement plan had $13.27 billion in liabilities. Combined with the plan's $12.5 billion in assets, this produces a funded ratio of 94 percent. That figure would look good even compared to state and local pensions' typical stated funded ratio of about 75%. But the state and local figures are calculated using a 7 to 8% discount rate. Were the Fed to use that approach, its pension liabilities would shrink to $7.96 billion and its funded ratio rise to 157 percent." (Forbes)
Federal Employees Will Pay 6.2 Percent More Toward Health Care Premiums in 2017
"Federal Employees Health Benefits Program [FEHBP] enrollees with self-only coverage will contribute an average of $5.27 more per paycheck, while those with family coverage will pay about $12.97 more.... Federal employees and retirees' share of their health care premiums will go up by a higher percentage than the government contribution, which will rise 3.7 percent. OPM pays about 70 percent of FEHBP participants' premiums." (Government Executive)
[Opinion] Postal Service Health Benefits and the FEHBP: The Urgent Case for Getting Reform Right
"The 2016 Postal Service Reform Act proposes shifting postal retirees' primary health care coverage from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) to Medicare.... The proposal's impact on both postal retirees and taxpayers could be substantial.... This arrangement drives excessive Medicare use, and thus imposes ever higher costs on both Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers. Postal annuitants would be forced to enroll in Medicare Part B while continuing premium payments to the FEHBP if they want to maintain any FEHBP benefits or choice among FEHBP plans." (The Heritage Foundation)
Military's New Hybrid Retirement Plan a Mixed Bag
"The military, which currently has a traditional defined benefit plan, will adopt a new hybrid program next year that blends an existing defined benefit for career personnel with a matching contribution to a 401(k)-style account aimed at covering those who don't make a lifelong career of the military. It's the biggest overhaul in retirement benefits in years -- and it's a mix of good and bad news for military personnel.... Under the new blended system, the value of defined benefit retirement pay will be cut by 20% to make way for matching contributions to service members' defined contribution accounts." (Morningstar)
[Official Guidance] Text of OPM Proposed Regs: FEHB Employee Premium Contributions for Employees in Leave Without Pay or Other Nonpay Status
15 pages. "Under current regulations, a Federal agency pays the employee's share and the Government's share of FEHB premiums if an employee in [leave without pay (LWOP)] or other nonpay status elects to continue coverage while in LWOP or other nonpay status and agrees to repay the agency ... for their employee share upon return to employment for up to 365 days. In other words, the agency must allow an employee to incur a debt for the employee contribution to premium.... This proposed rule would provide an agency with the flexibility to require that all of its employees in LWOP or other nonpay status, except as a result of lapse of appropriations, pay their employee share for FEHB coverage directly to the agency and keep the payments current, if those employees elect to continue FEHB enrollment." (U.S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM])
Group Proposes $333 Billion in Cuts to Feds' Pay and Benefits
"Federal employees are overpaid because the government operates independently of market pressures, according to [The Heritage Foundation], which proposed $333 billion in savings over the next decade aimed at federal personnel costs.... [The] Foundation proposed $26 billion in cuts specifically to federal employees' pay, which researchers argued far outpaces that of the private sector. The rest of the savings came from proposed reforms to retirement benefits, paid leave and health care." (Government Executive)
Are Federal Pay and Benefits Too Generous?
"[Personnel reforms proposed by The Heritage Foundation] included: [1] Requiring new federal hires and employees with between five and 25 years of service to pay more for their retirement benefits by decreasing the government contribution.... [2] Requiring federal workers to shoulder more of their health care costs under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program [FEHBP].... [3] Eliminating the FEHBP government contribution for retiree health benefits for new hires.... Federal employee unions took issue with the proposals." (Government Executive)
Department of Defense Gives Phased Retirement Program Green Light, Ending Lengthy Delay
"[A] long-awaited phased retirement program has become a reality, under a directive-type DOD memorandum, released June 21.... Phased retirement program participants must have been full-time employees 'for at least a consecutive 3 year period ending on the effective date of entry into phased retirement status,' and they must obtain consent from a DOD official ... Employees under the phased retirement program are allowed to work 50 percent of the number of hours they were working immediately prior to entering the program[.]" (Bloomberg BNA)
Worse Than It Looks: The True Burden and Risks of Federal Employee Pension Plans in Canada (PDF)
16 pages. "Federal government employees enjoy pure defined-benefit pensions that promise relatively generous benefits to a large current and former workforce.... [M]isleading accounting understates the true burden and risks these plans create for Canadian taxpayers ... To relieve taxpayers of their current sole responsibility for risks in the federal plan, Ottawa would need to switch to a shared-risk, target-benefit model already common in much of the provincial public sector, which calculates benefits with reference not only to salary and years of service but also to the plans' funded status." (C.D. Howe Institute)
[Official Guidance] Text of OPM Final Regs: Family and Medical Leave Act for Federal Employees; Definition of Spouse
"[OPM] is revising the definition of spouse in its regulations on the [FMLA] ... The new definition replaces the existing definition, which contains language from DOMA that refers to 'a legal union between one man and one woman.' " (U.S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM])
OPM Will Give Health Insurance Companies New Rules for Reporting Cyberincidents
"The head of the Office of Personnel Management says the agency plans to issue new rules to health insurance companies that provide coverage for federal employees for reporting cybersecurity incidents.... Last year, both OPM and one of the biggest insurers in the FEHBP program -- Anthem Inc. -- were breached ... The OPM hack, disclosed last June, affected nearly 22 million federal employees, contractors, retirees and prospective employees." (Nextgov)
Cypen & Cypen Newsletter, March 31, 2016
Topics include: [1] Would raising Social Security retirement age pose hardship on millions? [2] IRS curtailment of determination letters could be final nail in DB coffin; [3] Ex-court administrator guilty of theft sues for retirement benefits; and [4] Pensions, office allowances and other federal benefits. (Cypen & Cypen)
Public Pensions in Flux: Can the Federal Government's Experiences Inform State Responses?
"Many state and local governments currently face difficulties financing future pension obligations for their workers. The federal government, however, faced similar circumstances in the 1980s and successfully implemented a substantial reform.... [The authors] present key aspects of the situation facing state governments currently and draw comparisons between them and the federal situation in the 1980s.... [S]tates experiencing distress today about the cost and funding of its pension plans could benefit from following an approach similar to the federal government's resolution of its pension problems in the 1980s." (The Brookings Institution)
Former Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefits (PDF)
29 pages. "This report provides a legislative and cultural history of the Former Presidents Act [FPA]. It details the benefits provided to former Presidents and their costs.... This report considers the potential effects of maintaining the FPA or amending the FPA in ways that might reduce or otherwise modify a former President's benefits." [Report RL34631, May 16, 2015] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
[Official Guidance] Text of FEHB Letter to Carriers: Updated Expectations for Design and Operation of Health and Wellness Programs (PDF)
"This carrier letter consolidates OPM guidance on population health and wellness. OPM expects all FEHB health plans to sponsor programs that promote healthy lifestyles and help members modify health risks.... To improve wellness performance, we ask carriers to review their programs and ensure the following: [1] ... Carriers should increase the percentage of enrollees completing HRAs each year. Most adults can benefit from completing an HRA annually ... [2] ... [T]he majority of adults must be screened at least once every three years.... [3] ... The information from HRAs and biometric screenings should be used to initiate referrals to health coaching or other plan sponsored programs. Carriers should ensure that results of any laboratory testing performed during screenings are available to appropriate clinicians ... [4] ... Programs directed at diabetes prevention, obesity management, and reduction of cardiovascular risk may satisfy both preventive services and wellness requirements. Recognized programs are listed [online]. [5] ... [T]obacco use rates are declining among FEHB members. Help us continue this trend by reinforcing communication ... [6] Effective biometric screening will identify members at risk for developing hypertension ... [A]dherence to medications will reduce heart attack and stroke rates. (U.S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM])
[Guidance Overview] Will Your Sick Leave or PTO Policy Satisfy DOL's Paid Sick Leave Regs for Federal Contractors?
"Contractors affected by the proposed rule will have to find a way to satisfy the new PSL requirements without impeding compliance with divergent obligations under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and various state and local laws. Contractors can elect to comply with the proposed rule either by adopting a new paid sick leave policy that mirrors the proposed rule or by amending an existing leave or paid time-off policy. Either way, contractors will have their work cut out for them. The proposed rule is detailed and includes many uncommon provisions[.]" (Ogletree Deakins)
The Retirement and Social Security Benefit Claiming of U.S. Military Retirees
"[A]ccess to a consistent source of income may encourage earlier retirement through a standard income effect, but the military pension may also increase a retiree's post-military job search, allowing for a greater wage and improved job satisfaction due to a better employer-employee match. Access to a steady source of pension income may also reduce short-term liquidity constraints, encouraging military retirees to delay claiming their Social Security benefit in order to benefit from delayed retirement." [Working paper no. 2016-336] (Michigan Retirement Research Center [MRRC])
TVA Retirement Board Approves Counterproposal on Plan Changes
"The original staff proposal froze the plan and moved all participants to the 401(k) plan. The retirement system board counterproposal fully moves only participants with less than 10 years of service to the existing 401(k) plan. TVA would contribute 6% of an employee's salary and then match 100% of employee contributions up to 6% of salary." (Pensions & Investments)
Pension Benefit Cuts Planned at TVA, Breaking a Federal Firewall
"[T]he board of the Tennessee Valley Authority Retirement System, the pension program for roughly 11,000 workers and 24,000 retirees at the venerable New Deal-era agency, approved a tentative plan to lower the system's funding shortfall by reducing benefits. The plan will be implemented later this year if the T.V.A.'s management and board go along with it.... [W]hat has elevated an increasingly common debate about pensions into a larger controversy about inequality is [a] decision to exempt from the cutbacks the benefits that he and other executives receive through a supplemental retirement plan." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)
[Official Guidance] Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Carrier Letter for 2017 Contracts (PDF)
"The annual call for benefit and rate proposals sets forth the policy goals and initiatives for the FEHB Program for 2017 and beyond. We encourage all carriers to thoroughly evaluate their health plan options to find ways to improve affordability, reduce costs, and improve the quality of care and the health of the enrolled population. Except where noted, benefit enhancements must be offset by proposed reductions so that premiums are not increased due to benefit changes." (U.S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM])
Health and Retirement Study Shows Declining Wealth and Work Among Male Veterans
"Among those 51 to 56 in 1992, veterans were better educated, healthier, wealthier, and more likely to be working than nonveterans. By 2010, 51- to 56-year-old veterans had lost their educational advantage, were less healthy, less wealthy, and less likely to be working than nonveterans." [Working paper no. 2015-323] (University of Michigan Retirement Research Center [MRRC])
[Official Guidance] Text of DOL Proposed Regs: Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors
"This document proposes regulations to implement Executive Order 13706 ... which requires certain parties that contract with the Federal Government to provide their employees with up to 7 days of paid sick leave annually, including paid leave allowing for family care... This proposed rule ... describes the categories of contracts and employees the Order covers and excludes from coverage, sets forth requirements and restrictions governing the accrual and use of paid sick leave, and prohibits interference with or discrimination for the exercise of rights under the Executive Order. It also ... establishes the standards and procedures for complaints, investigations, remedies, and administrative enforcement proceedings related to alleged violations of the Order." (U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])
Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program: An Overview (PDF)
25 pages. "This report provides a general overview of FEHB. It describes the structure of FEHB, including eligibility for the program and coverage options available to enrollees, as well as premiums, benefits and cost sharing, and general financing of FEHB. The report also describes the role of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in administering the program." [Report R43922, Feb. 3, 2016] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Feds Made Fewer Hardship Withdrawals From TSP in 2015
"The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board reported 111,694 hardship withdrawals in 2015, totaling $1.02 billion, compared to 121,389 such withdrawals totaling $1.12 billion by participants in 2014." (Government Executive)
House Votes to Give Former Presidents a Pension Cut
"The House has approved a measure to curb the taxpayer-funded benefits former presidents receive each year after leaving the White House in order to tamp down on benefits afforded to those who make a considerable salary in the private sector. The bill ... would limit yearly presidential pensions to $200,000 -- slightly less than they're allowed now -- but would cut that amount by a dollar for every dollar they earn over $400,000 a year in the private sector." (ABC News)
Questions and Answers About Federal Employee Health Insurance
"If I do not want to change my health insurance during the Open Season, what do I need to do? ... How much money will self-plus-one save? ... Does Blue Cross Basic have the same Medicare waiver as Blue Cross Standard for federal retirees? ... For individuals that have not made an Open Season election where can they enroll or change their enrollment? ... I am currently enrolled in a self-and-family enrollment and only have one eligible family member (either a spouse or an eligible child). Should I switch to self-plus-one?" (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)
Senate Approves Final Defense Bill with Military Retirement Reforms
"The $607 billion National Defense Authorization Act calls for a new military retirement system beginning in 2018 that requires new service members to participate in the $443.3 Thrift Savings Plan. The Department of Defense will make an automatic 1% contribution to TSP accounts, and can match up to 4% more, for up to 26 years of service. To pay for that, the current defined benefit plan, which covers service members staying 20 years or more, will reduce benefits by 20% and decrease a disability calculation." (Pensions & Investments)
New York Governor Cuomo Announces Pension Plan Credit for Military Service
"Cuomo and lawmakers will craft a measure to be included in next year's budget that would give honorably discharged veterans who work in state or local governments the chance to purchase up to three years credit on their public pensions. The announcement comes barely two weeks after Cuomo was criticized by veterans' advocates for vetoing a similar measure. Cuomo, at the time, cited its cost and the bill's failure to identify a funding source as the reasons for his veto." (New York Daily News)
[Official Guidance] Text of OPM Final Regs: Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program Eligibility Changes
"[OPM] is issuing a final rule to amend the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) regulation to expand ... the definition of 'qualified relative' to include opposite-sex domestic partners of Federal and U.S. Postal Service employees, annuitants, members of the uniformed services, and retired members of the uniformed services. In addition, this rule provides that adult children of domestic partners will be considered one of the types of individuals comprising the statutory term 'qualified relative' who may apply for FLTCIP coverage." (U.S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM])
[Official Guidance] Text of OPM Final Regs for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program: Enrollment Options Following the Termination of a Plan or Plan Option
"The final rule provides belated enrollment opportunities for annuitants who, for reasons beyond their control, were unable to make an enrollment election during the allowed time following the termination of a plan or plan option.... Section 890.301(n) has been updated in the final rule to allow OPM, at its sole discretion, to designate an alternate plan for automatic enrollments.... OPM has updated Section 890.306(l)(4)(iv) to clarify that annuitants who wish to change their enrollment following an involuntary enrollment due to a plan or plan option termination may do so prospectively, rather than retroactively, within 90-days after OPM advises the annuitant of the new enrollment." (U.S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM])
Federal Employees Would Pay More Toward Pensions Under Proposal
"Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., has introduced legislation that ... would apply the higher retirement contribution rates that federal employees hired in 2014 or later have to pay now to all federal workers under the Federal Employees Retirement System. For many federal employees who currently contribute 0.8 percent, that would be a 3.6 percentage point increase per paycheck." (Government Executive)
New FEHBP Enrollment Option Will Result in Winners and Losers
"The self-plus-one option could save those currently enrolled in FEHBP's self and family plan on average 6 percent in current premium costs in 2016 ... while self and family premiums are expected to rise by 7 percent on average.... Insurance carriers reported to OPM that currently more than 1 million self and family contracts (of the 2.1 million self and family contracts) had only one dependent listed. Of those enrollments, approximately 60 percent were retirees and 40 percent were active federal employees. Because OPM has shown that the FEHBP enrollee pool skews older, it's possible the self-plus-one option might not be cheaper for everyone who chooses it." (Government Executive)
Federal Employers Address Phased Retirement, Consider Automatic Escalation of TSP Contributions
"[T]he Environmental Protection Agency has started a program allowing most retirement-eligible, full-time employees to ease into retirement gradually ... The Housing and Urban Development Department also has notified employees ... that a partial retirement program is on the way ... [The Thrift Savings Plan is] discussing the possibility of legislation to automatically increase TSP contribution levels ... Increasing contributions annually until they reach 5 percent would allow participants to take full advantage of agency matching contributions." (Government Executive)
[Official Guidance] Text of OPM Final Regs: Federal Employees Health Benefits Program 'Self Plus One' Enrollment Type
"[OPM] is issuing a final rule to amend the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program regulations to add an additional enrollment type called 'self plus one' for premium rating and family member eligibility purposes ... OPM is aware that creation of a new enrollment tier may create additional complexity. However, this complexity is limited because the rule only introduces a new enrollment type. Benefits design will not differ from other enrollment types offered within the same plan option, which minimizes the complexity introduced by the rule. To alleviate potential concerns about complexity during the introductory year, Section 892.207(d) has been amended in this final rule to include a one-time limited enrollment period to be held in early 2016." (U.S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM])
[Official Guidance] Text of Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board Proposed Regs: TSP Default Investment Fund Errors
"This proposed regulation would update the TSP's existing error correction rules to address the correction of default investment fund errors caused by erroneous dates of birth." (Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board)
A Rude Survivor Annuity Shock for Some Widows and Widowers
"In choosing the maximum survivor annuity, the surviving spouse receives 55 percent of the [Civil Service Retirement System] benefit before the reduction for survivor benefits, before reductions for any unpaid redeposits and for the offset. There is a possible offset to the spousal survivor annuity when the surviving spouse becomes entitled to survivor benefits from Social Security. The widow of one CSRS Offset retiree recently was shocked to find out just how dramatic effect that could have on the annuity." (Government Executive)
CBO Analysis of Approaches to Reduce Federal Spending on Military Health Care
22 presentation slides. Topics include: [1] Recent proposals to restructure TRICARE; [2] Slowing the growth of health care costs: options examined by CBO; [3] Cumulative budgetary effects of policy options that would raise military retirees' cost sharing, 2015 to 2023; [4] Potential for savings in other approaches. (Congressional Budget Office [CBO])
CRS Report: Description of Health Benefits for Members of Congress and Designated Congressional Staff (PDF)
12 pages. "[B]eginning January 1, 2014, Members and designated congressional staff are no longer able to purchase FEHB plans as active employees; however, if they enroll in a health plan offered through a small business health options program (SHOP) exchange, they remain eligible for an employer contribution toward coverage ... This report summarizes the provisions of the final rule and describes how it affects current and retired Members and congressional staff. OPM has indicated that Members and congressional staff are still eligible for other health benefits related to federal employment, and these additional health benefits are outlined in this report." [Report R43194, Jun. 17, 2015] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
[Guidance Overview] SSA Issues Final Rule Clarifying Government Pension Offset Exemption for Spouse's Benefits
"The regulations explain how and when the SSA will reduce the Social Security spouse's benefit for some people who receive federal, state, or local government pensions if Social Security did not cover their government work. The final rule becomes effective on July 15, 2015.... The [government pension offset (GPO)] provision was designed to provide parity with workers who earned their own Social Security retirement benefits and who are eligible to receive a spouse's benefits under Social Security as well. These workers have their spouse's benefits offset by their retirement benefits and receive the larger of the two." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)
[Guidance Overview] Health Reimbursement Accounts and the Military Health System
"MHS differs from the private sector in that any payments received from these payment types as part of cost-sharing are not accepted. If an HRA payment is made to cover an HDHP copay and/or a deductible, then it must be returned to the payer per 32 CFR 220.2(b). However, unlike FSAs and HSAs, HRAs are not paid into by beneficiaries, but are established and funded by the employers in order to provide greater control over their health care coverage." (Altarum Institute)
New Military Retirement System Gets Pentagon OK
"The Pentagon is officially backing a 'blended' system that would shrink the size of the current pension by about 20 percent yet supplement that benefit by offering government contributions to individual retirement investment accounts. The proposed system would provide for the first time a modest retirement benefit for the vast majority of service members who leave the military before reaching 20 years of service to qualify for the traditional pension." (MilitaryTimes)
Does Mortality Differ Between Public and Private Sector Workers?
"In projecting pension costs, state and local plans assume their workers will live longer than private sector workers.... The analysis confirms that public sector workers -- particularly women -- have lower mortality rates than their private sector counterparts. The question is whether lower mortality reflects the nature of the job or the nature of the workers. The answer is the workers -- specifically their education levels. Controlling for education, the gap between public and private workers disappears." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
CRS Insight: A Comparison of House and Senate Provisions for Military Retirement Reform (PDF)
3 pages. "The House and Senate committee versions would change the existing system from a defined-benefit system that is vested at 20 years of qualifying service (YOS) to a blended system that authorizes government-matching contributions of up to 5% of basic pay to individual Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) accounts.... Currently, most non-disability retirees are eligible to receive a retired annuity equal to 50% of pay base after 20 years of service, based on a multiplier of 2.5% times the number of qualified years of service (with the exception of servicemembers in the Redux system, where it is calculated differently). Both versions of the FY2016 NDAA would reduce the multiplier for the defined benefit from 2.5% to 2.0% (a retirement annuity equal to 40% of pay base at 20 YOS)." [CRS Insight IN10286, Jun. 4, 2015] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Legislation Exempting Some Federal Employees from Retirement Plan Withdrawal Penalty Gains Ground
"After the House passed the Defending Public Safety Employees' Retirement Act (H.R. 2146) last month, the Senate passed its version of the legislation on June 4. However, an amendment was added to delay the bill's start date by a year ... [Law enforcement officers and firefighters] will be able to withdraw funds from the TSP in the amount of their choosing as long as they are 50 years of age and retired.... Before this law, LEO/FFs under the age of 55 at retirement could still get funds from the TSP penalty-free by using [a series of payments over the individual's life expectancy], but these payment amounts are prescribed by law and [the retiree is] locked-in for the longer of 5 years [or] ... age 59-1/2. After 12/31/2015, the retiree will be able to select the amount of their choosing and not be locked into a payment plan." (
[Official Guidance] Text of OPM Final Regs: Federal Employees Health Benefits Program -- Subrogation and Reimbursement Recovery
"[OPM] is issuing a final rule to amend the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program regulations to reaffirm the conditional nature of FEHB Program benefits and benefit payments under the plan's coverage as subject to a carrier's entitlement to subrogation and reimbursement recovery, and therefore, that such entitlement falls within the preemptive scope of the FEHA Act. FEHB contracts and brochures must include, and in practice already include, a provision incorporating the carrier's subrogation and reimbursement rights, and FEHB plan brochures must contain an explanation of the carrier's subrogation and reimbursement policy." (Office of Personnel Management [OPM])
House Passes Bill Exempting Some Federal Employees from Retirement Tax Penalty
"H.R. 2146 would reform the tax code so that federal law enforcement officers and firefighters, who are eligible to retire earlier than many other federal employees, aren't subject to the 10 percent tax penalty on TSP retirement funds and other 401(k)-type plans tapped before the age of 59-1/2. Civilians who access their retirement investments, such as a 401(k), prior to turning 55 if they are retired, or 59-1/2 if they are still working, incur the IRS fine." (Government Executive)

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