Retirement & Financial Planning
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Federal Retirement & Financial Planning Report

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Alternative Health Plans Not Skimming Off the Healthy A recent report finds no support for the contention that alternative health insurance plan designs with "consumer-driven" or "high-deductible" features skim off relatively healthy enrollees from the general eligible population. Continue ›
Making Transitions with LTC Coverage If you pay your Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program premiums through payroll deduction and you retire or transfer to another agency, you need to take certain steps in order to keep your policy current. Continue ›
Combining Your Options Long-Term Care Insurance On average, people who buy long-term care (LTC) insurance pay more than $2,000 per year. Continue ›
Making Transitions with LTC Coverage If you pay your Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program premiums through payroll deduction and you retire or transfer to another agency, you need to take certain steps in order to keep your policy current. Continue ›
Combining Your Options Long-Term Care Insurance On average, people who buy long-term care (LTC) insurance pay more than $2,000 per year. Continue ›
Work, Marriage Patterns Affecting Retirement Security The increase of women in the workforce in the last several decades will aid the retirement security of many of them but a decline in marriage rates will have the opposite effect, especially for lower-income workers, according to a Government Accountability Office study. Continue ›
CSRS Annuities Have Their Limits Under FERS, there is no maximum annuity. Continue ›
Paying for Investment Advice Many investment advisors are paid by fees these days. Continue ›
Defined Benefit Programs Continue to Decline The decline in availability of defined benefit retirement plans is continuing but the extinction of such plans is not imminent, according to a study by the TowersWatson consulting firm. Continue ›
Standards for Taking Disability Retirement For both CSRS and FERS employees, the requirements to be granted disability retirement by OPM are the same. Continue ›
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Report: Fourteen Retirement Planning Mistakes (updated)

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When you are thinking about retiring, planning might not be everything, but it’s head and shoulders above whatever’s in second place. This is a mistake too many federal employees make: going it on their own. Or relying on water cooler conversations or other conventional wisdom. Even on the odd chance that what you’d hear there is actually correct, the lunchroom lawyer doesn’t know everything you need to understand.

You need authoritative help because federal retirement is more complicated than it looks. So get with it. A pre‐retirement counseling seminar, in person or online, is the best way to go. Most agencies, if they don’t offer them to their retirement-eligible employees already, are willing to pay the enrollment fee for ones offered by private companies - and often let employees have time off to do it. Even if your agency doesn’t provide or pay for pre-retirement counseling seminars, it’s worth it to pay out of your own pocket (for example, you might being sucker‐punched by a little‐known rule that leaves you without health insurance). Seminars are that important. Be prepared with questions – and be ready to be surprised by all the questions and answers that had never occurred to you.

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Report: Understanding the Value of Your Benefits

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Retirement and health insurance long have been considered the foundation of federal employee benefits, what attracts many people to government service and what keeps them there, especially as they get farther into a career.

But just how important are they to employees? Amid all the criticism of the programs from one side as too generous and from another side as not generous enough, what do employee think about them, in terms of their importance, their effectiveness in meeting employees’ needs, and their value?

The answers could go a long way to deciding how federal employee benefits may change in the upcoming years.

That’s especially true in light of the recent record on another big workplace motivator, salary. Year after year an official study shows that federal employees on average are underpaid – most recently, on the order of a third. Year after year Presidents and Congress have ignored those figures, largely because paying salary increases of that size is simply out of the question given the current budget environment.

In fact, no general federal employee raise was paid in 2011, 2012 or 2013, the first time in many decades that there has been a pay rate freeze lasting more than one year. During that time some employees have seen their salaries increase, due to being promoted, changing jobs, moving up the steps of a grade, or (increasingly rarely) as a reward for good performance. But others received no pay increases at all during that time.

With the budget picture improving only a little in recent times, the best employees can hope for in the short run seems to be a token raise. An increase of 1 percent is under consideration for 2014, which mainly would serve to get the government back into its previously long-standing habit of granting at least something every year.

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