This year’s Federal Benefits Open Season runs from Monday, November 10 through Monday, December 14.During this five-week period, your will be able to make several benefit choices.

If you are an employee, you can enroll in or change and existing enrollment in:

* one of the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) program plans;

* a dental plan under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance program (FEDVIP); and

* a vision plan under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance program (FEDVIP). 

You will also be able to sign up for a flexible spending account for health or dependent care under the Federal Flexible Spending Account program (FSAFEDS).

To find out more information about any of these options, go to www.opm.gov/insure.

To help employees better understand their options, OPM has developed a Guide to Federal Benefits that not only covers the programs listed above but also two others that aren’t included in the open season: the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program (FEGLI) and the Federal Long Term Care Insurance program (FLTCIP).

Every agency was given the opportunity to purchase sufficient copies of this guide through the Government Printing Office. If you haven’t received one, check with your servicing personnel office or download a copy at www.opm.gov/insure/health/planinfo/guides/70-01.pdf.

If you are a retiree or survivor, you can enroll in or change and existing enrollment in:

* one of the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) program plans;

* a dental plan under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance program (FEDVIP); and

* a vision plan under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance program (FEDVIP).

However, you cannot sign up for a flexible spending account for health or dependent care under the Federal Flexible Spending Account program (FSAFEDS). By law, that benefit is restricted to current employees.

OPM has provided several on-line opportunities for employees to learn more about their options, including twitter and facebook sites. Just go to http://twitter.com/FedEmployeeBen and/or www.facebook.com/fedbenefits.   

OPM also has provided several conveniences for retirees and survivors. For example, if you want to make any changes, you can log on to its Open Season Online at http://retirefedhb.opm.gov and complete your transaction there. You can also do the same by phone using the Open Season Express by calling 1-800-332-9798 any time between 4:00 AM and midnight Central Standard Time. The phone system will lead you through a series of prompts t complete your transactions. However, before you call, make sure you have your CSA or CSF number (because you’ll be asked to enter the first seven numbers) and your Social Security number (where you’ll need to enter the last four numbers).

Next week I’ll focus on the FEHB program.