Insurance, Health, and Retirement: Benefits Important to You!
Employees joining the National Park Service should explore opportunities for obtaining Health, Life, and Retirement benefits offered to the federal work force. As a new Federal employee, your eligibility varies depending on your type of appointment. To determine your eligibility or to find out additional information regarding your benefits, please contact your local Servicing Human Resources Office (SHRO) or the centralized Benefits Branch located in Colorado at 1-877-642-4743.
The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program can help you and your family meet your health care needs. Federal employees enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country. The FEHB program offers you an opportunity to join certain health plans with better rates and better protection than you might acquire individually. You cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition under the FEHB. The FEHB program offers Federal Employees more than 6 Nationwide Fee-For-Service Plans (PPO) and numerous State Specific HMO plans. Each year Federal Employees have the opportunity to change plans, cancel or enroll in the FEHB during the annual Open Season.
New employees have 60 days from their appointment date to sign up for FEHB. To find out more information on the FEHB program, research Health Insurance plans, and compare premiums, please visit Office of Personnel Management Healthcare Site.
High Deductible Health Plan & Health Savings Account
The FEHB program in addition to its traditional Health Insurance Plans, offers High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) with Health Savings Accounts (HSA). These plans provide traditional medical coverage and a tax free way to help you build savings for future medical expenses. The HDHP/HSA gives you greater flexibility and discretion over how you use your health care benefits. Learn more at High Deductible Health Plans & Health Savings Accounts.
Flexible Spending Account
The Federal Flexible Spending Account (FSAFEDS) program offers three different flexible spending accounts: A health care flexible spending account, a limited expense health care flexible spending account, and a dependent care flexible spending account. The FSAFEDS program is an employee benefit program that allows you to set aside money on a pre-tax basis for certain health care and dependent care expenses.
New employees who wish to enroll in this program must do so within 60 days after they become eligible, but before October 1 of the calendar year. Current enrollees must remember to enroll each year to continue participating in FSAFEDS as enrollment does NOT carry forward year to year. The FSAFEDS program offers the same Annual Open Season as the FEHB program. To find out more information on the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program and to enroll, visit their website www.fsafeds.com.
Dental & Vision Insurance
The Federal Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP) is a separate and supplemental plan to the Federal Health Benefits Program. It provides dental and vision coverage through a variety of insurers. Federal employees can choose among 4 nationwide and 3 regional dental plans and 3 nationwide vision plans. New employees have 60 days from their appointment date to sign up for Dental or Vision Insurance. The FEDVIP program offers the same Annual Open Season as the FEHB program. To find out more information on the Federal Dental and Vision Program and to enroll, visit their website:
The Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program offers you an opportunity to sign up for Life Insurance without having to take a physical. If you are eligible for FEGLI, unless you sign a waiver, you are automatically enrolled for the Basic Life insurance upon entrance on duty.
FEGLI offers a Basic Life Insurance coverage and three forms of Optional Life Insurance Coverage. Basic Coverage is equal to your current annual salary, rounded up to the next highest thousand plus an additional $2,000. For example, if your annual salary is $51,500 your Basic Life Insurance coverage is worth $54,000. The additional Optional FEGLI Coverage is based on multiples of your salary and can be worth as much as 5 times your annual salary. FEGLI also offers minimal optional coverage on both your spouse and dependent children. FEGLI is a group term life insurance program, and does not build cash value.
New employees have 60 days from their appointment date to sign up for FEGLI. To find out more information on the FEGLI program, please visit their website at Office of Personnel Management Life Insurance.
Long Term Care Insurance
The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) provides long term care insurance to help pay for costs of care when enrollees need help with activities they perform every day should you need long term care services at home, in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or in other settings. Most health insurance programs, including the FEHB Program, TRICARE, and TRICARE For Life, provide little or no coverage for long term care.
To find out more information on the Long Term Care Program and to enroll, visit their website at www.ltcfeds.com
Retirement benefits are among the most important benefits of Federal employment. It's never too early to start planning for your retirement. Most Federal Employees will be in one or two retirement systems. The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) is the newest retirement system generally covering employees first employed after 1987 and those who voluntarily switched from CSRS. The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) originally covered employees first employed prior to 1987.
Federal Employees Retirement System
FERS is a three-tiered retirement plan consisting of the FERS Pension, Social Security Benefits, and the Thrift Savings Plan.
The FERS pension piece to your Retirement System is a Defined Benefit Plan, which means you will be eligible for a Pension from the Federal Government that will be based on years of service, age requirements and salary history. You must work at least 5 years with the Federal Government before you are eligible for a FERS Federal Pension, and for every year you work, you will be eligible for at least 1% of your High-3 Average Salary History. Automatic deductions of .8% of your basic pay will be used to fund your FERS pension. To find out more about FERS, visit the OPM FERS page.
The Social Security piece to your Retirement System is an additional Retirement Benefit that you may apply for as early as Age 62. Your benefit amount is based on your earnings averaged over most of your working career. Higher lifetime earnings result in higher benefits. Your Social Security benefit amount also is affected by your age at the time you start receiving benefits. If you start your Social Security benefits at Age 62, your benefit will be lower than if you wait until your full retirement age. Most people need 40 credits (10 years of work) to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits.
As a Federal Employee, you pay full Social Security Taxes that is equal to 6.2% of your salary. To find out more about Social Security, please go to www.ssa.gov.
Thrift Savings Plan
Visit The TSP website for detailed information
The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a Defined Contribution Plan and a long term savings plan that allows for the employee to take control of how much and where your money is being invested. It offers federal civilian employees the same type of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. The TSP has both a Traditional Contribution option (pre-tax contributions) and Roth Contribution option (after tax contributions) for all Federal Employees.
Traditional Contributions: These contributions are before-tax contributions. Before-tax contributions, allows you to reduce the amount of income tax you pay annually. Your investment earnings will also grow tax-deferred, this allows you to delay paying taxes on your TSP account earnings until you start to withdrawal from your TSP account. Traditional (pre-tax) contributions, which lower your current taxable income, give you a tax break today. They grow in your account tax-deferred, but when you withdraw your money, you pay taxes on both the contributions and their earnings.
Roth Contributions: Roth contributions are taken out of your paycheck after your income is taxed. When you withdraw funds from your Roth balance, you will receive your Roth contributions tax free since you have already paid taxes on the contributions. You also won't pay taxes on any investment earnings, as long as you're at least age 59½ (or disabled) and your withdrawal is made at least 5 years after the beginning of the year in which you made your first Roth contribution. The TSP Roth feature will give participants flexibility in the tax treatment of their contributions now and in the future.
Both CSRS and FERS employees are eligible to participate in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and they each have the same IRS elective deferral limits, the same funds to invest in, and the same withdrawal options.
FERS employees only receive Matching Contributions on the first 5% of pay that you contribute each pay period. The first 3% of pay that you contribute will be matched dollar-for dollar; the next 2% will be matched at 50 cents per dollar. Contributions above 5% will not be matched. If you stop making regular employee contributions, your matching contributions will also stop. Matching contributions are not taken out of your pay. Matching contribution monies will be placed in your TSP account by the Agency.
The TSP offers the choice of investing by percentage of salary or by dollar amount per pay period. Once an employee is enrolled they may change contributions and reallocate funds using the tsp website. The employee has the option of investing in 5 available funds, or in a choice of "L" or Lifecycle funds. Lifecycle funds, use professionally determined investment mixes that are tailored to meet investment objectives based on various time horizons.
If you were recently hired, your agency automatically enrolled you in the TSP at a 3% contribution rate. 3% of your basic pay is deducted from your paycheck each pay period and deposited in your TSP account, unless you have made an election to change or stop your contributions. If you had a 401K from a previous employer or an eligible IRA, you may be eligible to roll money over from those accounts into your TSP account.
Regardless of your retirement system, participating in the TSP can significantly increase your retirement income, but starting early is important. Contributing early gives the money in your account more time to increase in value through the compounding of earnings. To learn more about the Thrift Savings Plan, please go to www.tsp.gov.