Fedweek

OPM has finalized rules to carry out changes enacted last year regarding “representative payees,” who receive payments such as federal retirement or survivor benefits on behalf of another person, commonly a beneficiary under age 18 or one who is unable to handle their own financial affairs.

Rules in the October 14 Federal Register clarify that such payments may be made to an institution such as a nursing home as well as to an individual, while adding several protections against misuse of funds.

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Those protections include: giving OPM authority revoke a payee designation if it determines that a payee has embezzled or converted the annuity payments, and to instead make payments to another payee or directly to the beneficiary; making use of benefits by a payee for any purpose other than to benefit the person on whose behalf the payments were received a crime punishable by a fine, up to five years imprisonment or both; making persons who have been convicted of certain crimes ineligible to serve as a payee; and giving OPM authority to suspend payments in certain situations.

The rules were finalized as proposed earlier this year with the exception of broadening the definition of the health providers who may be cited in making certain decisions.

Meanwhile, OPM proposed rules on October 19 to expand eligibility under the FEDVIP vision-dental insurance program to certain categories of employees on temporary assignments or seasonal or intermittent schedules, who in recent years were made eligible under the FEHB health insurance program.

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