Social Security and Medicare – Keep It Simple

By: Maureen Wilkin, Federal Benefits Specialist, NITP

Published: November, 2019


Medicare and Social Security become topics of conversation for most people as they begin to plan for retirement.  That conversation often reveals how overwhelmed people are by the amount of program information available.  The good news is that it’s really not that complicated. Each program has some key points to know and follow. Let’s go through each program to help you gain a basic understanding.

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Am I Ready For Retirement?

5 Important Questions Federal Employees Should Ask

By: Vanessa Craddock, Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  November 20, 2018


  1. Will I have enough money to live on?
    General rule of thumb is that you’ll need approximately 80% of your pre-retirement income to live comfortably in retirement.  FERS, if you work 30 years, you’ll have at least 30% of your high-three average salary, so you’re well on your way.  Save consistently in TSP, claim Social Security at full retirement age and you should be fine.  CSRS, if you work 41 years, 11 months you’ll have the entire 80% without TSP, IRA’s or any other retirement savings!  Continue reading

“Tax Cut and Jobs Act” (TCJA) Mid-Year Review

By:  Bob Leins, CPA®

Published:  July 20, 2018

Congress passed the TCJA December 27, 2017 and the law became effective five days later, January 1, 2018. Now, over six months later, how will the TCJA benefit you?  As we enter the second half of 2018, changes within the TCJA have become somewhat easier to identify but remain less clear to apply personally.   A central focus of the TCJA changes is structured to decrease personal total income tax. Let’s review some highlights and focus on their application to you:

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What You Really Should Know About Social Security Benefits

By:  Maureen Wilkin, Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  June 20, 2018

Most people working today tend to think of Social Security benefits as something to consider when they get old.  Human nature being what it is they put off thinking about those benefits.  And that’s not a good idea.  Social Security benefits are not a component of old age.  In fact, as a working individual, you might qualify for some type of benefit long before you reach old age.  Benefits are available to workers at retirement age, if they become disabled, and then to surviving family members at the time of the worker’s death.  If you are married to a worker receiving a benefit, you might qualify for a spousal benefit, even if you do not qualify for a worker’s benefit of your own. 

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Why Everyone Must Do Estate Planning Today

By:  Norman Handler, Esquire

Published:  May 21, 2018

Estate planning often falls to the bottom of our “to-do list”, because it is not a pleasant thing to think about and because none of us expect to need it anytime in the near future. And the probability is that most of us will not need it in the near future. But estate planning deals with possibilities, not probabilities, and it is possible that the need will arise. We have to plan to care of ourselves and our families, just in case the need does arrive sooner than expected.

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Can You Handle an Unexpected Expense?

By:  Raymond Kirk, Ph. D., Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  April 20, 2018


You had an unexpected car repair; a squirrel got into your attic, your water heater ruptured.  Sudden unplanned expenses can play havoc with your budget and you are not alone.  More than one-third of households (34 percent) endured a major unexpected expense over the past year, according to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index survey.

Only 39 percent said they could cover a $1,000 expense with savings.  A quarter of the households would borrow from friends or cut back on other regular monthly expenses.  One out of five would use a credit card and pay off over time, making the total cost even greater.  Your best protection is to have an emergency savings fund as a cushion.

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TSP Versus IRA: Which is Better?

By:  Karen Schaeffer, Certified Financial Planner®

Published:  March 20, 2018


So, which is better, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)? Such a deceptively simple question can fill countless, “well, it depends” paragraphs without getting to an answer.  Rather than ramble on about endless variables, lets walk through some of the strengths of each, trying to keep in mind the correct answer might:

  • Be both instead of either/or;
  • Differ based on whether we’re in the accumulation phase or the spending phase of life; and
  • Be different for you than for someone else – its personal financial planning after all.

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January 2018: Twelve Weeks to Better Health

By:  Kari Utz-Wolsky, Nutrition and Conditioning Specialist

Published:  January 19, 2018

As we head into the New Year, many of us desire to make positive health changes.  And for those who make New Years resolutions, a large majority of these goals revolve around diet and/or exercise.  We may hope to give up poor habits, or embark on a new exercise routine.  Or possibly we even hope to make a complete overhaul to our nutrition plan.  Unfortunately, the odds are not in our favor.  Eighty percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February! Continue reading

October 2017: Flexible Spending Accounts

By:  Raymond Kirk, Ph.D., Federal Benefits Specialist

Published:  October 20, 2017


Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) give employees the opportunity to save hundreds, potentially thousands, of dollars a year on health care and dependent care expenses. Yet, fewer than 20% of employees take advantage of them. There are two types of FSAs: Health Care (HCFSA) and Dependent Care (DCFSA). Both operate the same way.  Employees have money withheld from their pay and deposited in their FSA accounts. When you have eligible expenses they are paid out of the money withheld from your pay. The benefit is the money is put into your FSA account on a pre-tax basis and you never have to pay the taxes.

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