By: Michele Bollier, Federal Benefits Specialist
Published: February 20, 2018
There are a vast number of Federal benefits resources at your fingertips. All have websites and one even has an app. This article provides some you may want to explore.
Health (FEHB): Most employees are covered by both Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program. You may change your health plan during the fall Federal Open Season or with a qualifying life event.
Types of plans available: https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/plan-types/
To compare plans: https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/plan-information/compare-plans/
Many are unfamiliar with the benefits of a Healthcare Savings (HSA) account. You need to have a health plan such as a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) to participate in an HSA account.
You may be considering FEHB & Medicare. Most health plan’s websites also have additional information on how their plan coordinates with Medicare as will Section 9 of their plan brochure.
These FAQ’s will answer some of your questions regarding how Tricare works with a Federal health benefit plan.
Life (FEGLI): Review your pay statement to learn if you have a deduction for life insurance and/or the amount you are paying. This FEGLI calculator will help determine the value of your life insurance. FEGLI open seasons are rare. You may increase your FEGLI based on a qualifying life event. You may always decrease FEGLI if you no longer need so much coverage by completing an SF 2817 and submitting it to your Benefits Office.
FSA: You may be losing money by not taking advantage of the pre-tax savings an FSA account provides. Check out the eligible health, dental, vision, etc., expenses. This is one benefit with an app! This tool allows you to make changes during the fall open season or with a qualifying life event.
Dental & Vision (FEDVIP): Federal Dental and Vision Insurance is one of the newer benefits for Federal employees and retirees. It too allows for qualifying life event changes outside of the fall open season.
LTC (FLTCIP): Long Term Care is an important consideration in financial planning. To become familiar with this type of insurance, visit their website to view videos, learn the questions asked in an underwriting application, calculate the possible premium, etc.
Many of you may not even be thinking about planning for the future (retirement) though it is good to start as it will happen for most people:
Do you know your FERS minimum age to retire?
Thrift Savings Plan (TSP): TSP is essential for most to have a comfortable retirement. TSP has several calculators to assist you:
Social Security (SSA): Become familiar with your potential future benefits from Social Security. You may create an online account here. (Those who are not able to create an account may obtain information from their local SSA office.) SSA also has a number of calculators to help estimate your future benefit, project life expectancy, and how working may affect your benefit, etc.
Earnings and Leave Statement and Summary of Benefits Statement: This is a good time of the year to review your pay statement to ensure your open season changes were effected. Most Payroll Offices provide an electronic statement summarizing your benefits. Employee Express calls it the Federal Employees Benefits Statement. DFAS has something similar in myPay. NFC may have it in myEPP.
Electronic Official Personnel Folders: Most agencies now have your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) in an electronic format. You will find a link from your agency’s webpage. Typically it requires you to view from your government computer. Review your OPF periodically to ensure it includes all your civilian and military service as well as any designation of beneficiaries.
These are only some of the vast webpages available. Most of the pages listed may be used from your home computers. You may want to share with trusted family members so they too may become familiar with your benefits.
Ms. Bollier is a retired Federal employee who was the Supervisor of the Benefits Program with the Department of the Interior. After her 30 year Federal career, she joined NITP as a Federal Benefits Specialist and seminar presenter.