Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Welcome Ken Thomas


NARFE Elects a New National President
After a runoff election, Kenneth Thomas has been elected as National President of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association for 2018-2020. He takes office on November 1.
NARFE National President Ken Thomas

Ken Thomas was elected in the second round of voting after receiving the largest number of votes but failing to achieve a majority on the first ballot.
I have been kept up to date by Ken Thomas’s “On Your Radar” Email newsletter since April of 2013; so I have known that Ken was up to date on the use of Computers.
Ken Thomas was a past president of the Florida Federation
Ken Thomas currently serves as a District 6 Vice President of NARFE Florida, known as the Florida Federation. The Florida Federation currently has over 12,000 dues paying members, although they advocate for the interests of nearly 300,000 members of the federal family in Florida.
The new NARFE President faces a number of challenges. Back in May, as he campaigned for the job, Ken Thomas outlined the issues he wanted to focus on:
As NARFE’s president, my priorities must be building the business of NARFE, creating efficiencies, making tough deals and carefully considering divergent viewpoints. The time has come for real-world solutions to the array of challenges NARFE faces.
I am . . . 
Committed to listening to your comments and suggestions. 
Committed to setting strategic direction, and initiating projects focusing on membership recruiting and retention. 
Committed to association restructuring. 
Committed to using technology to enhance association growth. 
Committed to marketing and advertising NARFE. 



NARFE Legislative Hotline October 5, 2018












Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen:

“A 2019 federal employee pay raise will not be achievable without the unrelenting work of NARFE grassroots advocates across the country. Our outreach to members of Congress amassed strong bipartisan support in favor of a pay increase, but the 1.9 percent raise is not final yet. We are approaching the most crucial stages of the process and must continue our advocacy until the pay raise is officially signed into law. Please join me in calling and writing your legislators and tell them to appropriate a 1.9 percent average pay raise for the civil service and reject the president’s proposed pay freeze.

“In other important news this week, legislation reforming the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) was introduced. The WEP unfairly reduces the Social Security benefits of federal retirees in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) just because they earned a public pension through years of hard work and also spent time in a Social Security-covered job. NARFE supports meaningful change and any form of substantial relief to federal retirees and all public servants. That is why NARFE supports the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2018, which would significantly alleviate the unfair financial strain placed on those impacted by the WEP. More information is below.”

House-Senate Republican Preliminary Agreement on Federal Pay Increase 

Media outlets are reporting House and Senate Republicans reached a preliminary agreement in favor of a federal pay increase in calendar year 2019. This tentative agreement increases the chances that the president’s proposed pay freeze is rejected by Congress. Though in favor of a federal employee pay raise, Democrats are opposed to another component of this House-Senate Republican agreement – a lift on the salary freeze as it applies to Vice President Mike Pence, senior Trump administration appointees and executive-level employees.

The negations are ongoing, and a decision is not likely to be finalized until after the mid-term elections. If Congress fails to follow through with an agreement in favor of a federal employee pay increase by 2019, the president’s proposed pay freeze will stand. It is important that NARFE members continue their unwavering advocacy by contacting their legislators to support this much-deserved federal employee pay raise. We cannot permit the pay gap between public and private-sector employees to widen further. We must not tolerate the unfair targeting of federal employees during a time of rising private-sector wages and a growing economy.

New WEP Reform Bill Introduced

Late last week, a bipartisan pair of congressmen – Reps. Kevin Brady, R-TX, and Richard Neal, D-MA – introduced legislation, H.R. 6933, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2018, to modify the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The WEP reduces the Social Security benefits of federal retirees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), and many state and local government retirees covered by similar systems, who earned Social Security benefits through other employment.

Under the bill, starting in 2020, individuals whose Social Security benefits are reduced by the WEP would receive an additional payment of $100 per month. Individuals receiving a WEP-reduced Social Security benefit based on their spouses’ employment would receive an additional $50 per month. These changes would apply to individuals who turn age 62 prior to 2025.

But individuals who turn age 62 in 2025 (those turning 55 this year) or later would be subject to a new formula designed to more accurately account for earnings based on covered employment, such as in private-sector jobs, compared to earnings from a non-Social Security covered position.This formula would affect each individual differently, but should increase Social Security benefits for a significant majority of individuals who would be subject to WEP under current law.

While the bill does not fully repeal WEP, it does represent a significant improvement over the status quo for CSRS retirees unfairly penalized for their public service – and for that reason, NARFE supports the bill. Please contact your representatives today to urge them to cosponsor the bill.

Grassroots Corner

Mark your calendars! NARFE’s Legislative Training Conference, LEGcon19, kicks off on Sunday, March 10, 2019, at the Mark Center Hilton Hotel in Alexandria, VA and culminates Wednesday, March 13, with a day of advocating on Capitol Hill followed by a closing reception. This will be the opportunity to enhance your advocacy skills, meet with your legislators on behalf of the federal community and return to your federation and chapter as an advocacy leader. Registration opens November 1, 2018!

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 advocacy@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.

Ken Thomas was Elected NARFE National President

The election results are in for NARFE National President. Ken Thomas was elected National President. This announcement was made yesterday. Let's all get behind Ken for the continued success of NARFE.

NewsWatch September 02 Click on Picture


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

NARFE Federal Benefits Institute Webinar

This message was sent to NARFE members.
NARFE Headquarters



FREE for NARFE Members
FEHB and Medicare: Understanding Your Choices 
A NARFE Federal Benefits Institute Webinar
Presented by James Marshall
Thursday, October 11 at 2 p.m. ET
With so many health plans and options available through the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) Program, it's no wonder you feel uncertain about your choices. Until now! NARFE's Federal benefits expert James Marshall helps you make the BEST CHOICE to help lower your premiums and increase your coverage.
James will cover how FEHB and Medicare can work to your benefit, how you can balance your coverage, and more.
Register today for this new one-hour webinar with a bonus Q&A chat session.
You Will Learn:
  • Do some FEHB plans work better with Medicare than others?
  • How your prescription drug needs may drive your options
  • What you can do to control the cost of health care
  • Why you should consider Medicare Part B
  • And more...

NARFE members may attend the live webinar FREE, but registration is required. Register here. The webinar will be recorded and available to view online within 24 hours of the broadcast. Registration is not required to view the recorded session.
Nonmembers may register for $39.95Registration includes a full-year of NARFE membership.
Please forward this email to your friends and colleagues who may benefit from the information in this exclusive NARFE webinar.

James Marshall
James Marshall heads the NARFE Federal Benefits Institute. A former Federal Benefits Specialist and consultant, James simplifies complex choices you need to make to manage your benefits and helps you feel confident about your health care choices. Attend this exclusive online presentation on October 11 at 2 p.m. ET. A BONUS Q&A online chat follows the presentation.Sign Up Today.
Sponsored by: 

Friday, September 28, 2018






Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen:

“FEHB premiums will increase by only 1.3 percent on average in 2019 – the lowest increase since 1996. That’s welcome news for federal employees and retirees. But even with this very modest premium increase, federal employees still face the prospect of their take-home pay decreasing due to the president’s proposed federal pay freeze. Unfortunately, House and Senate negotiations have stalled on the appropriations bill that, if passed, would provide a 1.9 percent average pay increase, and the decision on federal pay likely will be delayed until after the mid-term elections. Please continue to urge your legislators to support a federal pay raise to cover even this very modest premium increase. Federal employees who work behind the scenes to keep our country safe and operating deserve a pay raise to keep pace with rising private-sector pay amid a strengthening economy.”

Congress Postpones Decision on Federal Pay, Passes Government Funding Measure to Avert Shutdown


The fate of a federal pay raise for calendar year 2019 will be delayed until after the start of fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) and possibly until December. The House-Senate conference committee negotiating a final, bicameral agreement on H.R. 6147reached an impasse. The Senate version of the appropriations package includes the 1.9 percent pay raise for federal employees, while the House version is silent on the issue. With no agreement, the House and Senate simply passed a continuing resolution (CR) to extend funding at this year’s levels for the agencies covered by the bill until December 7, 2018, postponing the battle for a federal pay raise. As a reminder, the president’s proposed pay freeze will take effect if Congress fails to take action prior to the beginning of 2019. Please contact your representatives now and urge them to support a much-deserved federal pay raise. 



The good news is the CR will avert the looming threat of a government shutdown. With budget authority for most government agencies expiring at the end of the month, Congress needed to act. The House passed the CR along with the conference report on H.R. 6157, the full-year appropriations for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, by a vote of 361 to 61. The previous week, the Senate passed the CR and conference report by a vote of 93 to 7. Now that bill heads to the president’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law and avert a partial government shutdown.



At this point, Congress has passed five out of 12 spending bills so far, covering roughly 70 percent of discretionary spending for FY 2019. Congress now has until December 7 to finish the remaining seven appropriations bills.

Modest FEHB Premium Increases


On September 26, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced the average Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program premium will increase 1.3 percent in 2019, with the enrollee’s share rising an average of 1.5 percent. You can read NARFE President Richard G. Thissen’s response by clicking here. This is the lowest premium increase since the 1996 plan year. For comparison, premiums increased by 4 percent in 2018, 4.4 percent in 2017 and 6.4 percent in 2016.Further, OPM stated that this figure is competitive with other large private and public sector employers, whose average 2019 premium increases range from 1.16 percent to 6 percent. This modest increase in FEHB costs is proof that the program’s model of competing healthcare plans is working to keep costs down.



OPM also announced that 2019 Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) dental plans will see an overall average premium increase of 1.2 percent and vision plans will see an overall average premium decrease of 2.8 percent.



The 2019 plan year Open Season will take place between November 12 and December 10, 2018. This will be an opportunity for the federal community to assess various coverage options and select the plans that meet their healthcare and financial needs. Enrollees’ new health plans will then become effective January 1, 2019.



The Combined Federal Campaign is Underway


The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is running full steam ahead between now and January 11, 2019. The success of this program is yet another testament to the caring, charitable nature of federal employees and retirees, and their willingness to go above and beyond for the well-being of their communities, their nation and the world. Federal retirees could contribute to the CFC for the first time starting last year, but their ability to participate was delayed by months due to legal complications. This year, there is nothing standing in the way of federal retirees who want to make a contribution. We encourage NARFE members to take part in the CFC by clicking here. Through this online portal, federal employees and retirees are able to contribute to thousands of vetted, eligible nonprofits through payroll deduction, annuities, credit or debit cards, and bank accounts. In addition to monetary donations, Feds can also volunteer their time and expertise to participating nonprofits working in their community. The CFC raised more than $8.3 billion since 1961 in support of a variety of charities dedicated to disaster relief, housing and shelter, the arts and culture, youth development, animal welfare and much more. You can learn more about the eligible charities by clicking here.

Grassroots Corner

Did you recently attend a congressional town hall, community event or meeting on behalf of NARFE? Please complete the Congressional Meeting or Event Feedback Form after any interaction with legislators and staff. When you complete this form, which is located on NARFE’s advocacy page under “Surveys,” your interactions are recognized by the Advocacy Department staff and ultimately help ensure that NARFE's lobbyists echo your message on Capitol Hill. Your dedication to NARFE and advancing our legislative agenda is appreciated.


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 advocacy@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.


Save the Date - Register to attend the Virtual Benefits Fair this fall!

Register to attend the 2018 Virtual Benefits Fair to chat with carriers, review 2019 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 2019 plan details
Log in anytime during the Federal Benefits Open Season, from November 12 to December 10, 2018. Save 2019 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:
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
10 a.m.–5 p.m. ET
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
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 shop and compare different benefit plans.
Technical assistance
If you need technical assistance, please contact us at VBFHelp@ltcpartners.com.
Virtual Benefits Fair participating carriers
FLTCIP10241
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www.NARFE.org

NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association)
606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314, Phone: (703) 838-7760, Fax: (703) 838-7785.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

NARFE Legislative Hotline September 14, 2018











Message from NARFE President Richard G. Thissen:

“It is imperative that NARFE members continue contacting their legislators in support of a pay raise for federal employees, as the conference committee process is underway. This is especially true for NARFE members who are constituents of a conferee listed below. Not all NARFE members will be directly impacted by the outcome of this legislative battle, but fighting for this pay raise is in defense of the entire federal community. To single out and target federal employees during a strengthening economy while private-sector wages are rising, only shows a disdain for federal public servants and the indispensable work they do. We cannot sit idly by while the civil service is under attack.”


Committee Determining the Federal Pay Raise Convenes


hrough the conference committee process, 26 conferees will determine the fate of the calendar year 2019 federal pay raise as part of the fiscal year 2019 (FY19) Financial Services and General TGovernment appropriations bill. The Senate version of the bill includes a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal employees in 2019; meanwhile, the House was silent regarding a federal pay raise in its version of the legislation. Conferees will decide if the pay raise will be included in the final version of the bill that is reported out for a final vote in each chamber. If Congress does not take action, the president’s proposed pay freeze will take effect.


NARFE President Richard G. Thissen sent a letter to conference committee members urging them to include the 1.9 percent pay raise in the conference agreement for H.R. 6147. Further, the letter urged that if a continuing resolution precedes final votes on the conference agreement, then it should include the pay raise as well.


The legislators named to the conference committee for H.R. 6147 are listed here:


Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL


Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME


Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK


Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND


Sen. James Lankford, R-OK


Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-MS


Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT


Sen. Jack Reed, D-RI


Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM


Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR


Sen. Chris Coons, D-DE


Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-NJ


Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-AL


Rep. Mike Simpson, R-ID


Rep. Ken Calvert, R-CA


Rep. Tom Cole, R-OK


Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-FL


Rep. Tom Graves, R-GA


Rep. David Young, R-IA


Rep. John Rutherford, R-FL


Rep. Nita Lowey, D-NY


Rep. David Price, D-NC


Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-GA


Rep. Betty McCollum, D-MN


Rep. Michael Quigley, D-IL


Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-ME


NARFE members should contact their legislators and voice their support for the 1.9 percent pay raise as this legislation nears the finish line, especially NARFE members whose legislator was named as a conferee.

Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Update

This week, a joint House and Senate conference committee reported out H.R. 5895, the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water and Legislative Branch appropriations package. The conference agreement provided $44.6 billion for the Energy and Water appropriations bill, $98.1 billion for the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill and $4.8 billion for the Legislative Branch appropriations bill. H.R. 5895 was sent to the president after the conference report was adopted in the House 377-20 and in the Senate 92-5.


A joint House and Senate conference committee also issued a conference report for the Department of Defense, and the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations package, H.R. 6157. The conference agreement provides $674.4 billion for the Department of Defense appropriations bill and $178.1 billion for the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill. As the end of the fiscal year approaches, to avoid a government shutdown, this appropriations package also contains a continuing resolution (CR), which would extend current levels of funding through December 7, 2018 for agencies that haven't had FY19 funding approved by Congress. The CR will offer Congress more time into the next fiscal year to finish the rest of the appropriations bills. This legislation awaits a final vote in each chamber before it can be sent to the president.

Grassroots Corner

Did you miss Tuesday’s webinar? In the September Advocacy webinar, “115th Congress Legislative Update,” Staff Vice President for Advocacy Jessica Klement detailed the latest from Capitol Hill, and what Congress has in store for your federal retirement and health benefits for the rest of the year. This webinar provided a look back at recent congressional and executive actions affecting the federal community, updated you on where things stand now and looked forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. You can access the webinar recording by clicking here.


Hotline on As-Needed Basis Until September 28

Due to the congressional recess, the Hotline will be published on an as-needed basis until September 28.


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 advocacy@narfe.org or call 1-800-456-8410 and select option 3.



Friday, September 14, 2018

Paul Walker Speaks to NARFE

The Marshall County Chapter 1587 of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (Kentucky Federation of Chapter) held its annual picnic at Mike Miller Park in Benton, Kentucky. 15 or more chapter members were in attendance; Tom Crider gave us his blessing and Mickey Horcher led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.



Marshall County Chapter President Joe Horcher Introduced Murray State Professor Paul Walker who is a Candidate for the United States Congressional seat in the First District of Kentucky.

We were told that the Republican President and Congress had not approved  a cost of living raise for all Federal Employees.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

WEBINAR

NARFE Headquarters
FREE for NARFE Members
Retirement Forms: The Devil is in the Details 
A NARFE Federal Benefits Institute Webinar
Presented by James Marshall
Thursday, September 20 at 2 p.m. ET
All set to retire? Don't take chances with your paperwork! Get it right the first time with help from James Marshall, head of the NARFE Federal Benefits Institute. Find out what you need to do to execute a perfect transition from federal service to federal retirement.
Register today for this new one-hour webinar with a bonus Q&A chat session. No one should wait a year for their federal annuity.
You Will Learn:
  • CSRS or FERS - which documents apply to you
  • Completing Thrift Savings withdrawal forms today and in 2019
  • What to expect during interim or temporary retirement pay status
  • Changes to make in your federal insurance before you separate
  • And much more ...

NARFE members may attend the live webinar FREE, but registration is required. Register here. The webinar will be recorded and available to view online within 24 hours of the broadcast. Registration is not required to view the recorded session.
Nonmembers may register for $39.95Registration includes a full-year of NARFE membership.
Please forward this email to your friends and colleagues who may benefit from the information in this exclusive NARFE webinar.
James Marshall
James Marshall heads the NARFE Federal Benefits Institute. A former federal benefits specialist and experienced consultant, James has the insider knowledge to help Feds make informed decisions about benefits that affect their future. Attend this exclusive online presentation on September 20 at 2 p.m. ET. A BONUS Q&A online chat follows the presentation.Sign Up Today.
Sponsored by: