“The average GS Pay increase for 2019 should be about 2.1percent… it’s probably a good idea to evaluate your retirement contribution before the increase hits your paycheck and your pocket.”

OPM published newly proposed locality pay areas, and according to the articles linked to in the post, federal employee salaries have been increasing steadily since 2014, and the average GS basic pay increase for 2019 should be about 2.1 percent.

Are you one of the 62,000 federal employee salaries will see an increase with the proposed changes in the locality pay schedules? If you are like most people, it’s much easier to save money when it comes out before you see it in your paycheck, and in your bank balance.

So, if you are slated to receive a pay increase, whether from a locality pay increase, a step increase, or changing to a higher paying job – it’s probably a good idea to evaluate your federal retirement contribution level before that money hits your paycheck and your pocket. Or, if you haven’t yet started saving for your retirement, starting by contributing all or a portion of your locality pay increase might be a great, and easier way to start.

Of course, knowing how much you are going to need to rely on TSP for retirement income, how much income will come from other sources in retirement, and what expenses to plan for in retirement are much more complex questions. Insight Benefit Counselors (IBC) provides tools and services that can help: the FedTrack federal employee benefits and retirement calculator, and one-to-one benefits reviews with an experienced and trained federal benefits counselor. Current and former federal employees are qualified to access these resources at no cost.

By using the FedTrack system and working directly with a benefits counselor now, you can be prepared ahead of your next pay increase. Being prepared ahead of time may also help take the emotion out of saving and retirement planning. This way you can focus on working towards higher compensated positions, accumulating more time in service, and get the peace of mind that comes from having a plan.

Contact us to get started with Insight Employee Benefits Counselor today.

Read the full article at: www.federaltimes.com

As with many government benefits, your payout amount could change based on certain circumstances. When it comes to your annual leave, you could end up walking away with more than you had originally planned for.

No matter which part of the government you work for, there is one goal every federal employee is working toward: retirement. Along with financial security and some relaxation, there are several benefits to look forward to when you retire, including cashing in your annual leave. Which, for many, can easily become the cherry on top of a retirement sundae.

But how much annual leave do government employees actually qualify for? Well, the answer simply depends on what type of employee you are.

Annual Leave Expectancies for Federal Employees

Postal Service Employees

  • Postal Career Executive Service (PCES): Lump-sum payment of unlimited hours
  • Executive and Administrative Scale (EAS): Lump-sum payment of a maximum of 560 hours, plus any earned and unused time you accrued during your year of retirement
  • Union-contracted: Lump-sum of a maximum of 440 hours

Non-Postal Service Employees

  • Senior Executive Service (SES): Lump-sum payment of a maximum of 720 hours (certain employees may be entitled to an unlimited amount of hours)
  • Employees working in the U.S. and its territories: Can accumulate and carry over a maximum of 240 hours year-to-year
  • Overseas employees: Can accumulate and carry over a maximum of 360 hours year-to-year

As with many government benefits, your payout amount could change based on certain circumstances. When it comes to your annual leave, you could end up walking away with more than you had originally planned for. This can happen if you had planned to take leave time but ultimately weren’t able to for personal- or work-related reasons.

Don’t Bank on Your Annual Leave

Cashing in your annual leave might be a nice ‘bonus’ that comes along with retirement  — especially if you’ve saved up ample time — but you shouldn’t rely on it to carry you over the threshold. While it’s important to calculate how much annual leave you can count on, there are several other steps federal employees need to take when it comes to planning for retirement.

Insight Benefits Counselors is extensively trained on the complexities of federal benefits, including retirement planning. Our effective, three-step process can help you get on the right track towards retirement, and it all starts with a 20-minute phone call.

 

Contact us to get started with Insight Employee Benefits Counselor today.

 

Read the full article at: www.fedweek.com

No matter where you are in your personal life, it’s important to know and understand your CSRS or FERS benefits and how they may be affected in the event of a divorce.

It’s no secret that going through a divorce is a stressful and difficult process. From splitting up assets to the emotional toll it takes, divorce is complicated and distressing. This especially rings true for government employees and retirees who are trying to navigate the complexities of their federal benefits. While no one goes into a marriage hoping for it to end in divorce, there are steps you can take now to be ready for whatever life may throw your way in the future.

Educate Yourself

No matter where you are in your personal life, it’s important to know and understand your CSRS or FERS benefits and how they may be affected in the event of a divorce. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with obtaining a court order acceptable for processing (COAP), as this is a crucial step toward ensuring your retirement benefits are paid correctly, as agreed upon in your divorce settlement.

You will also want to be prepared for changes to more than just your retirement savings. Federal benefits such as health, social security, thrift savings plan, and FEGLI could all be affected by a divorce. Educating yourself on the rules of all of your benefits will help ease confusion and stress during an already trying time.

Lean on Experts

When you're seeking a divorce lawyer, be sure to look for one who specializes in divorces for federal employees or retirees. Learn how familiar they are with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Handbook and ask questions to understand their experience in processing these types of divorces.

Finally, trust in the help of a counselor along the way. Whether you're in the process of a divorce or simply want to know and understand your federal benefits, an Insight Benefits Counselors (IBC) trusted expert can provide the answers and resources you need to feel more confident in your knowledge. Contact us to get started today.

 

Read the full original article at: www.govexec.com

The simplest, least expensive tactic for dealing with potential incapacity is to put some assets in joint ownership, with right of survivorship. For example, you might name a son or daughter as joint owner of your bank account so he/she can pay bills for you, handle deposits, etc. However, there are problems with

Incapacity planning is one of the many steps government employees should take to gain security and peace of mind if something should ever happen to them. Several questions will likely come up during the planning process, including whether to open a joint account to ensure financial security. Although FEDweek mostly outlines the cons of opening a joint bank account, there are also several benefits. All it takes is some careful thought and consideration, including the following steps:

1. Choose someone you trust.

This likely goes without saying, but it’s extremely important that you have a healthy, trusting relationship with the person you are naming as the co-owner of your account. If you’re choosing one of your children, be sure your entire family (including any siblings) are all on board and in agreeance with the plan.

2. Set rules and boundaries.

FEDweek indicates that opening a joint account opens you up to a risk of the co-owner using that money for their benefit or investing it elsewhere. Once you choose someone you trust, set an agreement between yourselves that the money should only be used in the event of a potential incapacity.

3. Plan carefully.

A joint account is just a piece of the puzzle when it comes to estate and incapacity planning. There are several other important documents and plans needed, including:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Power of Attorney
  • Final Arrangements
  • HIPAA Authorization

While there are many common-sense steps to take when it comes to opening a joint account, there are other complex questions that will arise during the planning process -- all of which can become overwhelming. That’s why the experts at Insight Benefits Counselors (IBC) are standing by to help provide the answers and resources you need. From planning for retirement to an individualized benefit analysis, IBC is focused on your future. Get started today!

Read the full article at: www.fedweek.com
Insight Benefit Counselors, LLC. is an independent organization and is not a government agency or affiliated with the federal government.The Federal Government does not favor, endorse, or recommend any commercial company, product, or the views of Insight Benefit Counselors.

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