The raise affecting most federal employees—averaging 3.1 percent but ranging by locality from about 2.9-3.5 percent—has taken effect but it will be awhile yet before employees see the actual impact.
The first pay period of the year started January 5 for most employees, which as in past years is the effective date of the raise (not January 1, contrary to what some media outlets reported). That two-week period will end on the 18th, and the pay distribution for that period in most cases is made about a week later—a few days faster in some cases, a few days slower in others.
The pay distribution that most employees will receive late this week or early next week will reflect the last pay period of 2019 and thus will not contain the raise.
When first pay distribution reflecting the raise is made, employees will want to check their pay statements for accuracy, with the first step being to double-check the exact raise paid in their locality (their official duty, not their place of residence, if the two are in different localities). Salaries in the higher steps of grade GS-15 will be limited by a pay cap, now $170,800, in some localities.
For many, the raise will trigger higher coverage under FEGLI Basic and Option B, for those who have them—both are based on salary rounded to the next $1,000—with a corresponding increase in the premium costs. Also, for those investing in the TSP based on a percentage of salary, investments automatically increase with a raise as do agency matching contributions for those under FERS.
Changes in FEHB or FEDVIP elected during last fall’s open season—and changes in premiums in a plan for those who didn’t change plans or coverage levels—also should be reflected in the pay distribution covering the first pay period of the year, as should flexible spending account elections for 2020.
In contrast, the retiree COLA – 1.6 percent for those eligible, and prorated for those on the retirement rolls for less than a year – should have been reflected in January annuity payments, which should have been received by now. Those payments further should have reflected 2020 FEHB and FEDVIP coverage and rates.
See also, Within Grade Increases and Who Gets Them