Social Security and Medicare are easily the two most misunderstood benefits that federal employees, postal workers and retirees have, but it's vital that you understand just what types of benefits you're accumulating, what level of benefits and when you stand to receive them, what provisions might reduce or even eliminate them, and how they interact with your other benefits-in sum, how to best position yourselves to get the most out of these two key programs.
Federal employees and retirees have a large stake in the outcome, even though they have separate retirement and health insurance programs. Those programs are intertwined with both Social Security and Medicare. Social Security functions in a very different way than does the civil service retirement program, with many traps lying in wait for the unwary.
Also, the Medicare prescription drug benefit also raises new questions for federal employees and retirees regarding whether they should keep coverage under both programs in retirement - as most have traditionally done - or whether they should instead place all their eggs in the Medicare basket, saving on the cost of maintaining FEHB coverage.
Such developments show that with Social Security and Medicare playing so important a role in their financial futures, federal employees and retirees must understand just what types of benefits they are accumulating, what level of benefits they might stand to receive and what provisions might reduce their benefits, and how those benefits interact with their other benefits--in sum, how to best position themselves to get the most out of the programs and how to protect themselves for the future. In years past, these employees didn't really need to know too much about these programs because they were under a separate retirement and disability benefits package, the Civil Service Retirement System, and didn't stand to get benefits from Social Security. Social Security and Medicare, largely were for somebody else--not them.
NOT ANYMORE. All that changed several years ago and these big changes in the benefits picture are just now hitting home for many federal employees and postal workers--greatly because the "baby-boomers" are approaching retirement now. It's vital that you understand just what types of benefits you're accumulating, what level of benefits and when you stand to receive them, what provisions might reduce or even eliminate them, and how they interact with your other benefits-in sum, how to best position yourselves to get the most out of these two key programs.
Below is a partial table of contents for this informative handbook. Overview: The Future of Social Security and Medicare Social Security: Earning Credits Credit for Military Service Calculating Benefits The Windfall Elimination Provision The Government Pension Offset The Earnings Test Social Security's Role in Federal Retirement Benefits and Decisions Family Benefits Survivor Benefits Disability Benefits Social Security and Federal Retirement Disability Benefits Supplemental Social Security Income After Benefits Begin Taxation of Social Security
Benefits Administrative Matters and Resources Medicare: Hospital Insurance (Part A) Medical Services (Part B) Medical Advantage (Part C) Managed Care Plans Private Fee-for-Service Plans Other Alternative Plans Prescription Drug Program (Part D) Medigap Policies Medicare and FEH Rights, Protections and Appeals References and Resources.
Here's just a few of the issues this one-of-a-kind "manager's survival guide" will help you with:
◦The manager's role in hiring, including practices that can be used as alternatives to the traditional methods.
◦Guiding your employees through performance evaluations, promotions, and training.
◦Understanding labor-management relations and restrictions on personnel practices, including discrimination, sexual harassment and whistleblowing.
◦What managers and supervisors need to know to keep a federal workforce running, including leave, work scheduling and telecommuting practices, and areas of common concern-and potential conflict-such as allowable uses of office equipment and dress codes.
◦The manager's role in less common situations but ones that have a large potential impact on individual employees and the workplace in general-contracting out, work-related injuries and illnesses, emergencies and other potentially disruptive or sensitive issues.
◦How to use the tools available to help your employees and improve your recruitment and retention of employees, including that allow you to put more money in your employees' pockets, help employees when they struggle for some reason and how to respond to commonly asked benefit questions.
◦How to deal with misconduct and poor performance, bearing in mind the special considerations that arise in the federal workplace because of the various legal rights and appeals mechanisms available to employees.
◦How to use tools available to advance your own career, along with information about ethics and other laws that can act as a trap for the unwary.
◦What you need to know about the performance measures that the current political leadership is imposing on government programs, along with a description of the underlying motivations, philosophies and management priorities of the administration.
What if? - it’s a question we have heard time and again from our readers who simply don't know what effect a change in status (marriage, divorce, illness, outside work, leaving government, etc.) will have on their government job and benefits.
What if I get married-or divorced? What if I leave government before I'm eligible to retire? What if I want to supplement my government salary with outside income? What if I'm sidelined by a serious medical problem? What if I come back to work after retirement? The list goes on and on. Yet there has never been a resource designed to directly address these questions as they are really asked. Until now. The Book of Answers takes a special type of perspective at federal benefits, describing what happens and what to do as a federal employee, retiree or family member when major life events occur.
The various federal benefits all have special rules that apply in certain life situations, including some with deadlines that, once missed, can't be waived. These federal programs include health insurance, life insurance, retirement, the Thrift Savings Plan, Social Security, and more. And there are even some changes that occur at certain ages without a triggering life event, such as the decrease in the supplementary life insurance under FEGLI Basic between ages 35 and 45, or a potential decrease in that coverage after age 65, for example.
The Book of Answers presents a mix of practical information plus insight gleaned from our long experience in talking with employees and retirees about their most serious and important concerns. It all came down to one big what if question: What if there were a book that answered those questions? Well, here it is!
Take a look at just some of the questions that this valuable book answers:
Section I—Life Events
What If I Hit a ‘Magic Number’?
What If My Family Members Marry or Hit Magic Numbers?
What If I Get Married as an Active Employee?
What If I Get Married After Retirement?
What If We Adopt or Have a Child?
What If I’m Divorced or Separated?
What If I Move?
What If I Die or a Family Member Dies?
Section II—Financial Issues
What If I Have a Financial Emergency?
What If I Want to Supplement My Salary?
What If I’m Offered a Gift?
What If I Accumulate Frequent Traveler Credits on Official Travel?
What If I’m Offered a Buyout?
What If I Have a Financial Claim Against My Agency?
What If I Owe Money?
Section III—Medical Issues
What If I or Family Members Have a Medical Emergency?
What If I Exhaust My Leave?
What If I Have a Life-Threatening Condition?
What If I’m Disabled?
Section IV—Benefits Issues
What If I Go on Extended Leave Without Pay?
What If I Go on Extended Leave for Military Service?
What If There’s an Emergency Situation?
What If I Want To Change or Drop My Life Insurance Coverage?
What If I Want to Change or Drop My Health Insurance Coverage?
What If I Want to Change or Drop My Dental or Vision Coverage?
What If I Want To Change or Drop My Long Term Care Coverage?
What If I Want to Name or Change Beneficiaries?
What If My Claim Was Denied?
What If I Need Help?
Section V—Retirement Issues
What If I Leave Government Before Retirement Eligibility?
What If I’m Offered Early Retirement?
What If I Retire?
What If I Don’t Get My Annuity Payment On Time?
What If I Return to Government Employment after Retiring?
I Return to Government Employment after Retiring?
I Retired With a Buyout?
I Retired on Disability?
My Reemployment Ends?
I Die While Reemployed?
As you may know, there's a lot of information available to federal employees in the form of downloads and sometimes brochures or pamphlets, but most often they can fall woefully short in many areas.
Written by our veteran team of experts, the 2014 Federal Employees Handbook contains the very latest critical information on your federal pay and benefits and workplace policies and will help you take full advantage of your opportunities and avoid costly mistakes.
Selects Topics Covered:
- Hiring authorities: both new and old
- Leave and benefits for employees called to active duty
- What happens to your benefits if you separate before retirement eligibility
- Loan options under the Thrift Savings Plan
- Performance awards
- Emergency policies and guidance
- Long-term care insurance
- Flexible spending accounts
- Social Security & Medicare
- New premium conversion tax break under FEHB
- Career intern program
- Government payments for liability insurance
- Public transit subsidies
- Student loan repayment
- Official travel policies including work hours and reimbursement
- Leave policies, including annual leave, sick and military leave
- Lump sum payments
- Correcting retirement errors
- Employment-related claims filed against the federal government
- The grievance process and the Merit Systems Protection Board
- New TSP investment options
AND COMPLETELY REVISED AND UPDATED FOR 2014:
Federal Pay Systems, Pay and Compensation Policies, Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Retirement, The Thrift Savings Plan, Social Security, Medicare, Taxation of Federal Benefits, General Employment and Workplace Rules, Employment Restrictions, Veterans\' Rights and Preference, On-the-Job Injuries and Illnesses, Downsizing Policies, Directory of Unions and Other Groups, Appealing Agency Actions Against You, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Leave and Other Forms of Time Off, Survivor Benefits Travel, Transportation, Per Diem and Relocation Allowances, And much, much more!
"This 2014 Federal Employees Handbook is an essential reference guide you can't afford to be without whether you are a federal employee, federal manager or executive or postal worker."
Don Mace - Publisher, FEDweek