New from the Money Scoop
* Our health insurance program is a nationally recognized model that offers you choice and flexibility along with a substantial employer contribution to premiums. And you can pay your share of premiums as well as your out-of-pocket costs with pre-tax dollars.
* Our leave policy provides ample time off to take care of your personal, your recreational and your health care needs. In addition to 10 paid holidays every year, you will accumulate 13 days of sick leave each year along with from 13 to 26 vacation days, depending on your years of employment.
* To help you manage responsibilities outside of your jobs and enhance your peace of mind while you are at work, Federal agencies offer a range of family friendly flexibilities including flexible work schedules, telework; child care and elder care resources; adoption information and incentives programs; child support programs, including subsidies and dependent care flexible spending accounts; and employee assistance programs.
In addition to these programs that we know will be of interest to you right now, the Federal Government recognizes the need for income replacement and income support benefits down the road.
* Our 3-part retirement program includes a social security benefit, a 401(k) type plan, and a defined benefit component based on years of employment and salary history.
* In addition to retiree health insurance benefits under the FEHB Program, you also will be eligible for Medicare.
* You will be able to choose among several options for life insurance coverage for both you and your family members.
* We offer the largest group long-term care insurance program in the country. As a new employee, you can apply by answering just a few simple questions. And you can tailor your benefits package to your own needs.
As a new employee, you may be eligible for some special bonuses such as a recruitment bonus or a relocation bonus. This will be at the discretion of your employing agency. Other programs you may want to ask about include: incentive awards; employee development programs; student loan repayment programs; retention allowances; and interagency transfers. All agencies support community service and encourage participation in the annual combined Federal campaign.
Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB)
The Government's health benefit program has about 180 health plan options throughout the United States, including consumer-driven health care and preferred provider network options. At least a dozen plan choices are available to each employee, which allows for a broad choice so that employees can select the plan that best meets their own individual health care needs. While specific benefits vary among FEHB plans, none can impose a waiting period or require a medical exam to enroll in their plan.
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
FSAs allow employees to increase their disposable income because the amounts they contribute are not subject to Federal income, FICA, State or local income taxes. The Federal Government offers both a Health Care FSA and a Dependent Care FSA. Employees can use the Health Care FSA for expenses that are tax-deductible, but not reimbursed by any other source, including out-of-pocket expenses and non-covered benefits under their FEHB plans. Some examples are non-covered dental services, lasik surgery, health plan deductibles, and co-payments and coinsurance. FSAs for dependent care are available for employees with dependent children or qualifying dependent adults when the care is necessary to allow the employee to work.
Leave and Holidays
Federal employees are entitled to at least 13 days of vacation leave as well as 13 days of sick leave each year. Depending on years of service, employees can earn up to 26 days of vacation leave each year. In addition, Federal employees get 10 days paid holiday each year. This allows employees time to spend with their families and to pursue their own individual interests and avocations.
Family Friendly Flexibilities
The Federal Government provides many programs for workers to support their needs for individual flexibility. For example, Flexible Work Schedules allow employees to adjust their work hours in order to take a day off each pay period. Employees can enjoy twenty-six 3-day weekends! Also, the Federal Government's Alternative Work Schedule (AWS) allows employees to select certain arrival and departure times that best suit their needs within their working day. Agencies are encouraged to allow eligible employees the opportunity to Telework either at home or at a remote location at least one day a week. Family Friendly Leave Policies provide flexibility for military leave, allow employees to care for a sick family member or flexibility in the event of a disaster or emergency. In addition, while specific programs may vary, agencies also offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP); Part-Time & Job Sharing Positions; Resources for Child & Elder Care Resources, Information and Incentives for Adoption, and other Child Support Services.
Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS):
Your retirement benefits are based on your years of service and salary history.
Thrift Savings Plan (TSP):
With the Thrift Savings Plan, you can self-direct your retirement savings program through multiple investment options. This Plan is very similar to a 401(k) plan.
You will earn Social Security credit while working with the Government. Social Security provides for your future retirement benefits, provides disability protection, and allows for survivor benefits protection.
New employees who had previous Government service may be eligible to participate in the Civil Service Retirement System. Check the website for eligibility.
Medicare - Part A:
Government employees are automatically eligible for Medicare Part A at no cost beginning at age 65.
Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI):
FEGLI is a group term life insurance program. It consists of Basic life insurance coverage and three options. In most cases, if you are a new Federal employee, you are automatically covered by Basic life insurance and your payroll office deducts premiums from your salary unless you waive the coverage. In addition to the Basic, there are three forms of Optional insurance that you can elect. (Standard, Additional, and Family). The program offers the opportunity to retain your coverage for your entire life.
Long Term Care Insurance Program:
As a new employee, you have the opportunity to enroll for long term care insurance under the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) with minimal underwriting. However, applying for long term care insurance coverage does not automatically guarantee you will be approved for that coverage and enrolled. The decision to approve your application will be based on your answers and explanations on the application. A limited number of medical conditions will prevent a new employee from being approved for coverage. Long term care helps people to perform daily activities if they have an ongoing illness or disability. This Program offers a choice of benefits that can provide a variety of services, including but not limited to: nursing home care, assisted living facility care, adult day care and at home care. Please see the link for specific information.
There are many other benefit programs that make the Federal Government a model employer and a top ranking career choice. The following is a list of additional programs offered by many of the agencies:
* Recruitment Bonus:
Lump-sum bonus to newly appointed employees for difficult-to-fill positions. Up to 25% of basic pay may be paid prior to employee entering on duty. Service agreement with repayment plan if service time not fulfilled.
* Relocation Bonus:
Lump-sum bonus for difficult-to-fill position in a different commuting area; up to 25% of basic pay. Service agreement with repayment plan if service time not fulfilled.
* Retention Allowance:
Continuing payment to retain departing employees; up to 25% of basic pay.
* Incentive Awards:
Monetary; Time off; Honorary; Non-monetary
* Employee Development:
Career Resource Centers; Training Opportunities
* Supportive of Community Service:
Annual Combined Federal Campaign
* Inter-agency Transfers:
Transfer from one Federal agency/position to another without a break in service.
* Student Loan Repayment:
Permits agencies to repay the student loans of Federal employees; used at the discretion of the agency.
The checks, worth a total of $92.2 million, can be claimed as soon as their owners update their addresses with the IRS. In some cases, a taxpayer has more than one check waiting.
The reason? A lot of the time people do not get their refunds because many taxpayers they move without notifying the IRS or Postal Service of a change of address.
How to claim your money.
According to the IRS,axpayers can use the “Where’s My Refund?” feature on the home page of the IRS.gov Web site to learn the status of their refunds. To use it, a taxpayer must enter information such as a Social Security number. When the information is submitted, the site will display the status of a refund and, in some cases, provide instructions on how to resolve potential account issues.
Taxpayers can access a telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?” by calling 1-800-829-1954.
How to Update an Address with the IRS
“Where’s My Refund?” now has an online mailing address update feature for taxpayers whose refund checks were returned to IRS. If an undeliverable check was originally issued within the past 12 months, the taxpayer will be prompted online to provide an updated mailing address.
The address update feature is only available to taxpayers using the Web version of “Where’s My Refund?” Taxpayers with undelivered refund checks who access “Where’s My Refund?” by phone will receive instructions on next steps. Individuals whose refunds were not returned to IRS as undeliverable cannot update their mailing addresses through the “Where’s My Refund?” service.
A taxpayer can also ensure the IRS has his or her correct address by filing Form 8822, Change of Address. Download the form from IRS.gov or request it by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).
Direct Deposit Can Put an End to Lost Refunds
To put an end to undelivered refunds, the IRS says that taxpayers can take advantage of Direct Deposit. Taxpayers who choose this service receive their refunds directly into a personal checking or savings account. Direct Deposit, which also guards against theft or lost refund checks, is available for filers of both paper and electronic returns.
Don’t fall for any email scams about your refund! IRS never initiates emails!
Where’s my refund?
* Addresses Immediate Economic Challenges;
* Ensures Sustained Prosperity;
* Keeps America Safe; and
* Balances The Budget By 2012.
Addresses Immediate Economic Challenges
Includes a bipartisan economic growth package that spurs investment and strengthens the Nation's economy.
* Provides approximately $100 billion in temporary relief that would allow Americans to keep more of their paychecks to spend as they see fit.
* Saves businesses approximately $50 billion in near-term taxes through a temporary change to the tax code that will allow American businesses that buy new equipment this year to deduct an additional 50 percent of the cost of their investment in 2008.
* Continues economic growth which is a crucial element in reducing the deficit and balances the budget in 2012, but this growth package, combined with a slowing economy, does contribute to the near-term budget deficit. In FY08 the deficit will represent 2.9 percent of GDP, and 2.7 percent of GDP in FY09.
Promotes and preserves the American dream of homeownership though education and assistance to combat foreclosures and maintain a stable, healthy housing market.
* Increases mortgage financing options for homebuyers and homeowners through reforms in Federal Housing Administration authority such as risk-based pricing to offer a wider variety of mortgage products and create more homeownership opportunities.
* Includes $65 million for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Housing Counseling program, and $150 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation to help educate consumers, combat foreclosures, and promote a healthier housing market.
* Provides $2 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership program, including $50 million for the American Dream Downpayment Initiative to expand affordable housing and minority homeownership.
* Facilitates public-private partnership – the HOPE NOW Alliance – that includes a group of lenders, loan servicers, mortgage counselors, and investors to identify troubled borrowers and help them refinance or modify their mortgages, so more families can stay in their homes.
Ensures Sustained Prosperity
Makes tax relief permanent for long-term economic growth and sustainability.
* The President's 2001 and 2003 tax relief fostered economic growth, but is currently set to expire in 2010. Inaction would result in 116 million taxpayers seeing a tax increase of $1,800, on average.
Improves access for more Americans to affordable health care by fostering a marketplace, encouraging competition, and improving efficiency.
* Fosters a marketplace: Levels the playing field for those Americans who do not receive health care through their employer. Replaces the existing – and unlimited – tax exclusion for employer-sponsored insurance with a standard health insurance deduction for everyone.
* Encourages competition: Establishes association health plans for small employers, civic groups, and community organizations. Creates a competitive marketplace across state lines. Reforms medical liability law to reduce frivolous legal proceedings.
* Improves efficiency: Facilitates health information technology advancements through the adoption of policies that will encourage physicians and others to adopt electronic health records and through furthering technologies for safe, secure health information exchange.
Builds on the success of No Child Left Behind through support of proposals to reauthorize and strengthen the law while also proposing policies to make college more affordable for families.
* $14.3 billion for Title I – a 63 percent increase since 2001 – to continue driving improvement through NCLB. Last year, fourth and eighth graders achieved the highest math scores on record. African-American and Hispanic students are making significant progress, posting all-time highs in a number of categories.
* $1 billion for effective, research-based literacy instruction through Reading First.
* $300 million for Pell Grants for Kids. The Federal Pell Grant program, which students can use to attend the public or private college of their choice, Pell Grants for Kids would offer scholarships to low-income children in underperforming elementary and secondary schools, including high schools with significant dropout rates, to help them with the costs of attending an out-of-district public school or nearby private or faith-based school.
* $491 million for School Improvement Grants to help turn around schools in need of improvement.
* $95 billion in financial aid to help 10.9 million students pay for college.
* A $2.6 billion increase in annual appropriations for Pell Grants. This investment, together with funding provided by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, will support a maximum Pell Grant of $4,800 in 2009, and allow the maximum grant to rise to $5,400 by 2012.
Keeps the U.S. the most innovative nation in the world by implementing the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI).
* $12.2 billion total for the National Science Foundation, DoE's Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an overall funding increase of $1.6 billion, or 15 percent, above the 2008 enacted total of $10.6 billion.
* The President's FY 2009 Budget returns ACI research to a doubling path to ensure this consensus national priority objective is realized.
Increases energy security by focusing on renewables, accelerating technological breakthroughs, and expanding traditional sources to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.
* $400 million as the first installment of a three-year, $2 billion U.S. commitment to an international clean energy technology fund that will increase and accelerate the deployment of clean technologies in developing nations to help confront climate change.
* Doubles the capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to 1.5 billion barrels.
* Nuclear power: $242 million for Nuclear Power 2010 to promote the licensing of new nuclear plants through an industry cost-shared effort with streamlined regulatory processes. $302 million for Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative research and development.
* Coal: $648 million for research, development, and demonstration of advanced coal technologies. This represents a $197 million increase from the President's FY2008 request and is the largest amount requested for DOE's coal program in more than 25 years. With private sector match, this budget represents an approximate $1 billion investment in advanced technologies that can produce power from coal with significantly lower carbon emissions.
Keeps America Safe
Supports the national defense and funding for America's troops.
* $515 billion for the Department of Defense base budget – a nearly 74 percent increase since the President took office – to support military readiness and continue the transformation of our military to meet twenty-first century threats.
* $70 billion for an emergency allowance to support activities related to the Global War on Terror that help achieve the strategic goal of creating free, democratic, and self-governed ally nations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Enhances homeland security and terrorism prevention.
* 10.7 percent Government-wide increase for improving nuclear detection, expanding cybersecurity, securing borders and removing individuals in the country illegally, and bolstering homeland security functions.
* $500 million for 2,200 new Border Patrol agents to accomplish the President's goal of more than doubling the size of the Border Patrol.
* Nearly $6 billion to enhance the security of the Nation's transportation system through increased security personnel, more screening devices, improved passenger checkpoints, and air cargo security inspectors.
Promotes peace, democracy, and economic opportunity worldwide through diplomatic, development, and reconstruction activities.
* 14.9 percent increase for international affairs to support key allies in the Global War on Terror and improve responses to international crises.
* Middle East: $400 million to support freedom in Iraq; $1.1 billion to help build a stable Afghanistan; $75 million for the Palestinian people to promote good governance; $142 million to continue support for the democratic government of Lebanon; and $830 million to help Pakistan achieve stability.
* Mexico and Central America: $550 million for the President's new initiative to address security concerns, including combating drug trafficking.
* Civilian Response Capability: $249 million to enhance the capability of civilian Government agencies to respond to crises and to create a rapidly deployable civilian reserve corps.
Balances the Budget by 2012
Maintains proven pro-growth policies – keeping taxes low and restraining government spending – to ensure that near-term deficits are overcome and we achieve a surplus in 2012.
* In making tax relief permanent, Federal revenues as a share of the economy average 18.5 percent over the next five years, above the historical average. This demonstrates that Americans are not undertaxed, rather their government needs to control spending.
* Even while increasing some high priorities, overall non-security discretionary spending goes up less then one percent in 2009 and is held flat thereafter.
Continues to address the long-term challenge of unsustainable entitlement spending.
* A balanced budget in 2012 will be short-lived without addressing our biggest budgetary challenge. Spending on entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is growing faster than we can afford, and there are painful choices ahead if America stays on this path: massive tax increases, sudden and drastic cuts in benefits, or crippling deficits.
* Proposes savings of $208 billion over five years in order to lay the foundation for sensible reform while ensuring these crucial programs continue for future generations. This step will reduce the 75-year unfunded obligation in Medicare by nearly one-third.
Improves results of government programs and instills greater transparency so that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.
* Reviews the effectiveness of government programs and Federal agencies and makes results available for public review at www.expectmore.gov and www.results.gov.
* Reduces or terminates 151 programs totaling more than $18 billion; channels funds toward more effective uses that better align with national priorities.
* Proposes that Congress cut the number and cost of earmarks in half from the FY08 levels on a bill-by-bill basis – a move backed up by a Presidential veto pledge. This builds upon an Executive Order issued by the President directing agencies to ignore earmarks concealed in report language – a step that will bring greater accountability and transparency and help reform the earmarking culture that leads to wasteful and excessive pork-barrel spending.
* Calls on Congress to approve a legislative line-item veto.