November 27, 2014
The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program can help you to meet your health care needs. Federal employees, retirees and their survivors enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country. You can choose from among Fee-for-Service (FFS) plans, regardless of where you live, or Plans offering a Point-of-Service (POS) Product and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) if you live (or sometimes if you work) within the area serviced by the plan. Some FFS plans are open to all enrollees, but some require that you join the organization that sponsors the plan. Some plans limit enrollment to certain employee groups. Membership requirements and/or limitations also apply to any POS product the FFS plan may be offering.
The Office of Personnel Management's website at www.opm.gov/insure allows you to compare the costs, benefits, and features of different plans. Federal employees can use pre-tax dollars to pay health insurance premiums to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program under the "Premium Conversion" program. Premium conversion uses Federal tax rules, which allows employees to deduct their share of health insurance premiums from their taxable income, thereby reducing their taxes. This plan is similar to the private sector, which has allowed employees to deduct health insurance premiums from their taxable incomes for many years.
In an effort to give employees additional healthcare choices – the government introduced a new dental and vision program - FEDVIP. Employees may elect to enroll for dental benefits, vision benefits or both using pretax dollars to pay for the premiums. However, there is no federal government contribution. You may enroll in a plan for self-only, self plus one, or self and family coverage. Eligible family members include an enrollee's spouse and unmarried dependent children under the age of 22, or if age 22 or older, incapable of self-support. The rules for family members' eligibility are the same as they are for the FEHB Program.
Employees must be eligible for the FEHB Program in order to be eligible to enroll in FEDVIP. It does not matter if they are actually enrolled in FEHB - eligibility is the key. For additional information visit the OPM website at http://www.opm.gov/insure/ to see vendor and rate information.
The Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program provides group term life insurance. As such, it does not build up any cash value or paid-up value. It consists of Basic life insurance coverage and three options. In most cases, if you are a new Federal employee, you are automatically covered by Basic life insurance and your payroll office deducts premiums from your paycheck unless you waive the coverage. In addition to the Basic, there are three forms of Optional insurance that you can elect. You must have Basic insurance in order to elect any of the options. Unlike Basic, enrollment in Optional insurance is not automatic -- you must take action to elect the options.
The cost of Basic insurance is shared between you and the Government. You pay 2/3 of the total cost and the Government pays 1/3. Your age does not affect the cost of Basic insurance. You pay the full cost of Optional insurance, and the cost depends on your age.
The Office of Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (OFEGLI), which is a private entity that has a contract with the Federal Government, processes and pays claims under the FEGLI Program. For more information on the program, you can visit the Office of Personnel Management’s website at www.opm.gov/insure/life/.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) sponsors a long-term care insurance program exclusively for members of the Federal Family. Long Term Care (LTC) insurance can help you pay for long-term care services you may need if you can’t take care of yourself because of an extended illness or injury, or an age-related disease. Long-term care is a smart way to protect your assets and remain financially independent should you need long-term care services at home, in a nursing home or at another long term care facility. LTC insurance can supplement care provided by family members, reducing the burden you place on them.
For more information on the program, you can visit the Office of Personnel Management’s website at www.opm.gov/insure/ltc.
Library staff are covered under one of two retirement plans: FERS or CSRS. The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) covers almost all new Federal civilian employees hired after 1983. It was designed in response to changing times and Federal workforce needs. Many of its features are "portable" so that employees who leave Federal employment may still qualify for the benefits. The new retirement system is flexible. Covered employees are able to choose what is best for their individual situation. The retirement system is a three tiered retirement plan. The three components are Social Security Benefits, Basic Benefit Plan, and Thrift Saving Plan Benefits. Retirement benefits under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) are financed by both the employee and Government contributions to the retirement fund, and provide benefits based on length of service and the average salary over the highest three years of pay. This retirement system covers most Federal civilian employees hired before 1983.
The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees. The purpose of the TSP is to provide retirement income. It offers Federal civilian employees the same type of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under so-called "401(k)" plans. Employees covered by the Federal Employee's Retirement System (FERS) and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) can contribute to the TSP. The rules are different for FERS and CSRS employees.
FERS Participants – you may elect to contribute any dollar amount or percentage of your basic pay. However, you annual dollar total cannot exceed the Internal Revenue Code limit, which is $17,500 for 2014. Once you are eligible, you will receive: Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions; Agency Matching Contributions; and immediate vesting in Agency Matching Contributions and vesting generally in 3 years in Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions.
CSRS Participants - you may elect to contribute any dollar amount or percentage of your basic pay. However, you annual dollar total cannot exceed the Internal Revenue Code limit, which is $17,500 for 2014. CSRS participants do not receive any agency contributions.
All Participants - The TSP offers the following features: before tax savings and tax-deferred investment earnings; low administrative and investment expenses; choice of investments in six funds: Government Securities Investment (G) Fund; Common Stock Index Investment (C) Fund; and Fixed Income Index Investment (F) Fund; Small Capitalization Stock Index (S) Fund; International Stock Index (I) Fund; and the Lifecycle (L) Funds; Interfund transfers; loans from your own contributions and earnings while you are in Federal Service; limited in-service withdrawals for financial hardship or after you reach age 59 ½; portable benefits and a choice of withdrawal options after you separate from Federal Service; spouses' rights protection for loans and withdrawals; automated telephone service (the Thriftline) for up-to-date account information and other services; and a web site www.tsp.gov with TSP information and materials, including calculators for personal account projections and on-line account transactions.
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) offer tax savings by allowing you to pay for out-of-pocket expenses with pre-tax money for health care and dependent care expenses. A Health Care FSA (HCFSA) pays for the uncovered or unreimbursed portions of qualified medical costs. A Dependent Care FSA (DCFSA) allows you to pay eligible expenses for dependent care with pre-tax dollars. All employee contributions to FSA’s are made from pre-tax earnings, thereby increasing disposable income. The funds put into an FSA are not subject to Federal income and FICA taxes, nor most state and local income taxes. The bottom line is you save 20% to 40% on covered expenses.
For additional information, go to: http://www.opm.gov/insure/flexible/index.asp
Cost-of-Living Allowances (COLA) - scheduled annual pay increases.
Special Salary Rates - for certain Information Technology positions.
Locality Pay Adjustment - for the Washington-Metropolitan area.
Within-Grade Increases (WIG) - increases in employee's rate of basic pay by advancement from one step of his/her grade to the next after meeting requirements for length of service and performance.
Quality Step Increases (QSI) - an increase in employee's rate of basic pay through an additional within-grade increase granted for sustained high quality performance.
Annual Leave - An employee may use annual leave for vacations, rest and relaxation, and personal business or emergencies. An employee has a right to take annual leave, subject to the right of the supervisor to schedule the time at which annual leave may be taken. Annual Leave Ceiling - the maximum amount of annual leave that may be carried over into the new leave year is 240 hours (30 days).
* Annual leave is prorated for part-time employees and employees on uncommon tours of duty.
- 3 years or less of service = ½ day (4 hours) for each pay period
- 3 years but less than 15 years of service = 3/4 day (6 hours) for each pay period except 1 1/4 day (10 hours) in last pay period of the leave year
- 15 or more years of service = 1 day (8 hours) for each pay period
Sick Leave - An employee may use sick leave for personal medical needs, care of a family member/bereavement purposes, and/or adoption related purposes. There are no limits on the amount of sick leave that can be accumulated. Unused sick leave accumulated by employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System will be used in the calculation of their annuities.
- Full-time employees = ½ day (4 hours) for each biweekly pay period
- Part-time employees = 1 hour for each 20 hours in pay status
Ten (10) paid holidays each year: New Years Day; Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Presidents Day; Memorial Day; Independence Day; Labor Day; Columbus Day; Veterans Day; Thanksgiving Day; and Christmas Day.
Flexible work schedules are offered in many Library offices instead of traditional fixed work schedules to allow employees to choose their arrival and departure times to help employee's balance work and family or personal responsibilities.
Flextime Schedule - A flexitime schedule permits a staff member to choose his/her own work hours on a daily basis within established constraints, but shall work eight hours each day. During the flexible time a staff member may vary starting and stopping times within established time limits.
Compflex Schedule - A staff member may work more or less than 40 hours per workweek provided that the total work hours for the two-week pay period equals 80 hours. A workday may consist of eight or nine hours and non workdays usually include Saturday and Sunday, and Monday or Friday.
Credit Hours - Credit hours are given for authorized work performed by an employee in excess of his/her regularly scheduled tour of duty on any workday in order to vary the length of a subsequent workday. Such work is compensated by an equal amount of time off.
Compensatory Time Off - employee's may request compensatory time off in lieu of payment for irregular or occasional overtime work or regularly scheduled overtime work.
Incentive awards are given to encourage staff members to participate in improving efficiency and economy of Government operations and to recognize and reward staff members, individually or in groups, for their suggestions, inventions, or special achievements which contribute to efficiency, economy, or other improvement in Government operations. Library staff can be considered for Honorary, Cash, On-the-Spot, Job Performance, and Time Off awards.
Library employees receive on-the-job training and are eligible for skill builder classes and full-length courses offered by Library Services' Instructional Design and Training Division and by the Office of Workforce Performance and Development's Center For Learning and Development. Outside training is granted based on relevancy to position and funding.
Qualified Library Staff members receive up to $130.00 per month in the form of SmartBenefits, an electronic transfer of funds to a Smart Card, available from the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority. Subsidies are distributed monthly to be used on the Metrorail system, Virginia Rail Express, MARC commuter trains, county and commuter buses and qualified commercial van pools.