Friday, December 8, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline December 8, 2017











Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen 

“While the federal government will not shut down, the federal community is not out of the woods yet. Over the course of the next two weeks, a bipartisan budget agreement will likely be worked out by lawmakers, opening up the federal community to risk. Past bipartisan budget agreements have used federal pay and benefits to offset increases to budget caps and NARFE members must make it clear to their legislators that cuts to federal pay and benefits should be off the table. Federal workers and retirees honorably served their country and their benefits were earned. Contact your legislators today and make sure that your voice is heard.”

Open Season Ends Monday! 

The deadline for the 2017 Federal Benefits Open Season is Monday, December 11. The opportunity is almost over for federal employees to enroll in or make changes within the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP) and the Flexible Spending Accounts for Federal Employees (FSAFEDS) program. Federal retirees and survivor annuitants can change their FEHB health care plans as well as enroll in or change a FEDVIP plan during Open Season. The October, November and December issues of narfe magazine included excellent coverage of the plans and what you need to know for Open Season. More information can be found on the NARFE website here. Don’t delay in making any decisions regarding your health care coverage!

Continuing Resolution Signed to Keep the Government Open

The House and Senate passed a two-week continuing resolution that keeps the government funded at fiscal year 2017 levels through December 22, earning bipartisan support in both chambers. The continuing resolution was quickly signed by the president in order to stave off a government shutdown.

Passage of this continuing resolution gives lawmakers extra time to negotiate a bipartisan budget agreement. NARFE members should remain vigilant during these negotiations and contact their legislators to tell them not to use federal benefits as an offset for raising sequestration budget caps.

Congress has used federal benefits in past bipartisan budget agreements for offsets and the federal community must take a stand. NARFE members have proven that their voices are powerful and it is time to show that commitment once again. Contacting your legislators is easy. Simply click here to send a letter urging them to reject any spending agreement that cuts the earned pay and benefits of the federal community.

2017 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government Released 

The 2017 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings came out this week and the results are telling of the federal government. The rankings are produced by the Partnership for Public Service and they take into account the viewpoints of over 498,000 federal workers from 200 organizations.

The rankings were produced in conjunction with data collected through the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), which was administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and sent to executive and independent agency workers. In particular, three workplace satisfaction questions from the survey were highlighted, with the responses weighted based on agency size and other demographics. 

At the top of the rankings for large agencies is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) took the first spot for midsize agencies and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) was rated highest for small agencies. To see the rankings and learn more, click here.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the Action Center to tell NARFE’s advocacy staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly advocacy message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 4. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Advocacy Department at leg@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline December 1, 2017












Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen 

“I hope you all enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday and time with friends and family. Once again, it’s time for the NARFE community to join together and rise up against attempts to cut our earned pay and benefits. With government funding running out, Congress will have to take action to thwart a shutdown, spelling trouble for the federal community. For starters, Congress could use our benefits to offset spending increases in a possible two-year bipartisan budget deal. They’ve done it in the past, and we can’t let that happen now. In addition, postal legislation, which sets a terrible precedent for the entire federal community, could be rammed through Congress via year-end spending legislation. Make no mistake, this legislation breaks a fundamental promise to postal retirees and sets the stage for those same promises to be broken for the rest of our community. Federal workers and retirees proudly serve their country and we need to defend what we rightfully earned.”

Take Action! Spending Agreement Could Put Feds at Risk

The government is currently operating under a continuing resolution, which expires on December 8, leaving Congress little time to keep the government funded and making federal workers and retirees vulnerable to cuts to their earned pay and benefits. NARFE members must act quickly and tell their legislators not to use federal benefits as an offset for raising sequestration budget caps.

Congress is likely to pass another short-term continuing resolution to give them more time to negotiate a larger budget agreement. This means the threats we’ve been successfully fighting could be back on the table. Those threats include ending the FERS Annuity Supplement, eliminating or reducing cost-of-living adjustments, decreasing the value of Thrift Savings Plan funds and increasing retirement contributions for current emplo

Talk of attaching the Postal Reform Act of 2017, H.R. 756, to a year-end spending agreement in Congress has put retired postal workers on red alert and should concern the entire federal community. Congress could take action on this flawed, precedent-setting bill that breaks promises to current postal retirees, creating a roadmap for the rest of the federal community.

Under the legislation, current postal retirees would be required to enroll in Medicare Part B in order to continue receiving their current health insurance coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, ultimately raising their overall health insurance premiums an additional $134 or more per month, despite the fact that they previously declined this coverage. Taking Medicare Part B is a personal decision, and this breaks a fundamental promise to those who proudly served their country.yees.

NARFE members should contact their legislators to defend their earned pay and benefits. Congress has used federal benefits in past bipartisan budget agreements for offsets, but enough is enough. NARFE members have proven that their voices are powerful and it is time to show that commitment once again. Contacting your legislators is easy. Simply click here to send a letter urging them to reject any spending agreement that cuts the earned pay and benefits of the federal community.

Postal Reform Could See Year-End Action

Rushing this bill through Congress without proper debate is irresponsible, and NARFE members should let their legislators know this. It is easy to write your legislators about your concerns with the bill and the troubling precedent it would set by going here. Want to take action another way? Write a letter to the editor and tell others what Congress could try and do to those who proudly served their local communities.

Senate Expected to Pass Tax Reform Bill

The Senate scheduled a final vote on its version of tax reform for late Friday, December 1. Earlier in the day, Senate Republican leaders announced they had the necessary votes. The bill does not cut federal retirement or health benefits, but NARFE is keeping a close watch as the House and Senate move forward in the process.

Unlike the House version of the bill, the Senate legislation does not include a repeal of the medical expense deduction. Millions of taxpayers over age 65 use this deduction to reduce large out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as nursing home care, which can potentially bankrupt consumers. NARFE has joined with its coalition partners in the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) to oppose the repeal of this deduction. 

The increased deficits – up to $1.5 trillion over 10 years – that would result from either the House or Senate bill could also lead to more substantial spending cuts down the road. Cuts could be made to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or federal retirement and health benefits. Without subsequent congressional intervention, the increased deficits created by the tax bills would trigger an automatic, $25 billion cut to Medicare spending in 2018. 

The House and Senate will have to negotiate a bill that both chambers can agree on. If an agreement is made, both chambers will vote to accept the changes. NARFE members should remain vigilant during this crucial process.

TSP Modernization Act Signed Into Law

The president signed the TSP Modernization Act of 2017, H.R. 3031, into law in mid-November, putting the finishing touches on another win for the federal community. NARFE applauds this action and thanks all of its members who contacted their legislators to get this legislation over the finish line.

The legislation allows multiple, partial post-separation withdrawals, which participants can time to their individual needs, and would provide multiple, age-based withdrawals for participants who are still working and are older than age 59-1/2. The TSP Modernization Act also provides greater flexibility by allowing the election of quarterly or annual payments and permits periodic withdrawals that can be changed at any point during the year. Payments could be stopped while leaving the account balance in the TSP. Finally, the bill eliminates the withdrawal election deadline. 

NARFE encourages the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which was given two years to implement the changes, to issue the regulations necessary to make these options available as soon as possible.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 4. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.

Friday, November 17, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline November 17, 2017












Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“There will not be a hotline next week, so I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. The federal family has faced many threats this year, and I am most thankful for the NARFE members who have taken action to protect their earned pay and benefits. Now, a new threat looms on the horizon as the federal government quickly approaches December 8, the day the latest continuing resolution expires and the government is no longer funded. If past is prologue, the federal community could be targeted as a means to offset increases in government spending. Please contact your legislators and tell them not to cut the earned pay and benefits of the federal community in any bipartisan two-year budget agreement.”

Act Now! Budget Spending Agreement Could Threaten Federal Benefits

The government is currently operating under a continuing resolution, which expires on December 8, leaving Congress with a tight window to keep the government funded, especially considering Congress is in recess next week for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Congress could go multiple routes during this process, most likely passing another short-term continuing resolution. However, at some point fiscal year 2018 will have to be fully funded, and Congress will push to do this by the end of the year. NARFE is particularly concerned about the possibility of another two-year bipartisan budget agreement, which could use federal benefits as an offset for raising sequestration budget caps.

Congress passed bipartisan agreements in 2013 and 2015, both setting government funding levels for two years. Bipartisan negotiations are underway to do the same for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. If the final agreement follows the same pattern as the last two, increases in agency budgets would require offsets in spending. In 2013, increased retirement contributions for newly hired federal employees were used as an offset. Feds were spared in the 2015 agreement.

This time around, all of the proposals we’ve been successfully fighting are back on the table. These include ending the FERS Annuity Supplement, eliminating or reducing cost-of-living adjustments, decreasing the value of Thrift Savings Plan funds and increasing retirement contributions for current employees.

NARFE members must once again mobilize and take action to protect their earned pay and benefits. Take a few minutes today to contact your legislators and tell them that the federal community has paid more than its fair share and should not be targeted again by going here. NARFE members successfully made their voices heard just recently; the time has come to do it again.

House Passes Tax Reform Bill

The House passed its version of tax reform by a party-line vote of 227 – 205, handing the next move on tax reform to the Senate. The bill did not cut federal retirement or health benefits, but NARFE is closely monitoring the process of tax reform for potential implications on the federal community.

One area of concern NARFE has with the House version of the bill is the repeal of the medical expense deduction. Millions of taxpayers over age 65 use this deduction to reduce large out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as nursing home care, which can potentially bankrupt consumers. NARFE has joined with its coalition partners in the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) to oppose the repeal of this deduction. The Senate version of the tax bill, which was approved by the Senate Finance Committee on November 16, does not currently contain a repeal of this medical expense deduction.

NARFE will continue to provide updates on the status of the tax reform as it moves through the legislative process.

Consumer Prices Decrease in October

Last month, a 2.0 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was announced for civil service annuities, Social Security benefits and military retirement annuities in 2018. Now that the 2018 COLA is set, NARFE is tracking consumer prices for the 2019 COLA.

Relevant to the 2019 COLA, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) decreased 0.15 percent in October 2017. The new CPI-W figure for October 2017 was 240.573, 0.38 percent higher than the average CPI-W for the third quarter of 2017 (239.668), which will be used to determine the 2019 COLA.

Individuals receiving insurance benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) received a 2.0 percent COLA in March 2017. Looking ahead to the 2018 COLA for FECA benefits, which is computed on a calendar-year basis, the October 2017 CPI-W figure (240.573) is 2.20 percent higher than the December 2016 CPI-W figure (235.390).

No Legislative Hotline November 24

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no Hotline next week. NARFE Headquarters will be closed November 23-24. The Hotline will return to its regular schedule on Friday, December 1.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 4. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.

Friday, November 10, 2017

NARFE Legislative Hotline November 9, 2017










Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen

“Once again, NARFE members took action when it was needed and pressed their legislators to pass meaningful legislation providing more flexible withdrawal options for Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) participants. NARFE applauds the passage of the TSP Modernization Act of 2017 by Congress and we anxiously await its implementation. This bill will provide the proud men and women who serve this nation in the civil service and in the military greater control over their own retirement savings and the ability to plan responsibly for their future. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation is a win for NARFE and the entire federal community.”

TSP Modernization Act of 2017 Passes Congress 

The Senate passed the TSP Modernization Act of 2017, H.R. 3031, by unanimous consent and sent the bill to the president for final approval. Passage of this bill grants federal workers and military personnel greater control over their retirement and is an overall win for the federal community. Thank you to all of those who took action by contacting their lawmakers in support of this bill.

The legislation allows multiple, partial post-separation withdrawals, which participants can time to their individual needs, and would provide multiple, age-based withdrawals for participants who are still working and are older than age 59-1/2. The TSP Modernization Act also provides greater flexibility by allowing the election of quarterly or annual payments and permits periodic withdrawals that can be changed at any point during the year. Payments could be stopped while leaving the account balance in the TSP. Finally, the bill eliminates the withdrawal election deadline. 

The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which oversees the TSP, has two years to issue regulations necessary to implement the expanded withdrawal options. While a window for implementation has been set, an exact timeline has yet to be announced.

Once signed by the president, NARFE encourages the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to issue the regulations necessary to make these options available as soon as possible.

Open Season Begins Monday! 

The 2017 Federal Benefits Open Season begins Monday, November 13, and will run through Monday, December 11. This is an opportunity for federal employees to enroll in or make changes within the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP) and the Flexible Spending Accounts for Federal Employees (FSAFEDS) program. Federal retirees and survivor annuitants can change their FEHB health care plans as well as enroll in or change a FEDVIP plan during Open Season. The October, November and December issues of narfe magazine include excellent coverage of the plans and what you need to know for Open Season.

Make Your Voice Heard in Congress

NARFE members are encouraged to use the NARFE Legislative Action Center to quickly and easily send letters to members of Congress on a variety of NARFE issues, sign up for action alerts and track NARFE-related bills and votes.

Have you attended a meeting, town hall or telephone town hall with your senator(s) or representative recently? Fill out a simple feedback form here in the Action Center to tell NARFE’s legislative staff the details of your legislator’s stance on NARFE issues.

Obtaining the Hotline

This weekly legislative message is emailed to NARFE members, posted on the NARFE website and available to NARFE members via telephone by calling 1-800-456-8410 and selecting option 4. Past editions are archived online for NARFE member access. If you have any questions regarding the information in this Hotline, please email NARFE’s Legislative Department at leg@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

2017 Virtual Benefits Fair














November 6, 2017



Register to attend the 2017 Virtual Benefits Fair to chat with carriers, review 2018 plan details, and get the information you need to help make the right decisions, in one convenient online location. Visit LTCFEDS.com/elearning or click the button below to sign up today.



Review 2018 plan details
Log in anytime during the Federal Benefits Open Season, from November 13 to December 11, 2017. Save 2018 plan brochures in your online briefcase, visit individual carrier booths, watch instructional videos, and register for educational webinars.
Get answers to your questions
Representatives from all participating carriers will be available to take your questions during our two live carrier chat days:
Monday, November 13, 2017
10 a.m.–5 p.m. ET
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
10 a.m.–5 p.m. ET
Explore your benefits in one convenient location
Learn valuable information, get answers from the experts, and visit carrier booths to compete in our nationwide virtual scavenger hunt.





NARFE NewsWatch November 7, 2017, Click on Photo

OPM establishes emergency leave transfer program due to California wildfires.



Open Season
November 13 - December 11