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April 2015 Benefits Newsletter

What's New?

  1. Benefits Calendar Of Events
  2. Do You Have Benefits And Retirement Questions? Attend The Roundtables!

Topics Of Interest:

  1. Check Your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Election – Don’t Miss Out On Valuable Agency Matching Contributions!
  2. Can I Have Dual Enrollments In The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program?
  3. Where Can I Find Information On Debt Collections And Garnishments?
  4. Can I Name A Minor As The Beneficiary For My Life Insurance?
  5. Employment And Income Verification – Use TALX – The Work Number ®
  6. Why Do I Need A myPay PIN And How Can I Get One?
  7. Where Can I Find Information On Pay And Leave?

Where Do I Go If I Have Questions About My Benefits?

  1. How Can I Get In Touch With My Benefits Contact?
  2. Previous NIH Benefits Information – Did You Know? E-mails

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What's New?

1. Benefits Calendar of Events

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2. Do You Have Benefits And Retirement Questions? Attend The Roundtables!

In support of Financial Fitness month, the Benefits & Payroll Liaison Branch (BPLB) will host benefits and retirement roundtables on April 29, 2015, from 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. The event will be held in Building 1, Wilson Hall.

Participants will have the opportunity to rotate to tables staffed by benefits and retirement specialists. Participants will have an opportunity to experience three different topic rotations. The table topics are:

  • Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS),
  • Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS),
  • Thrift Savings Plan,
  • Social Security,
  • Deposits/Redeposits, and
  • Insurance

Each rotation will allow for a short presentation by the topic specialist, followed by a question and answer period.

Seating is limited! Please e-mail Ileana Turner at turneril@mail.nih.gov, by Friday, April 24, 2015, if you would like to attend.

As an added benefit to our menu of services, BPLB will be launching “AskBPLB.” Use this link to submit any questions pertaining to benefits, retirement or payroll related matters.

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Topics Of Interest:

3. Check Your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Election – Don’t Miss Out On Valuable Agency Matching Contributions!

If you are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), you could lose out on valuable Agency matching TSP contributions by reaching the annual contribution limit before the end of the calendar year.  The 2015 IRS annual limit for regular TSP contributions is $18,000, and you may elect to make Traditional TSP and/or Roth TSP external link icon contributions.  To avoid reaching the limit too soon, you should spread your contributions out over the entire calendar year.  You may check and, if necessary, change your TSP election in myPay external link icon (DFAS).  Additionally, you should view your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) each pay period to confirm your TSP deductions.  You can access your LES in myPay external link icon (DFAS).  If you need to adjust your election, use the Elective Deferral Calculator external link icon on the TSP website external link icon to determine the adjusted amount.  There are 27 pay days in 2015.  Please note that a regular TSP election will automatically continue from one calendar year into the next.

If you are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or CSRS-Offset, you can also contribute to the TSP.  Although you do not qualify for Agency contributions, the TSP does offer an excellent opportunity to provide you with supplemental retirement income later.

In addition to regular TSP contributions, you may also make TSP Catch-up contributions external link icon (TSP), if you meet the following criteria:  1) you are age 50 or over (or will be age 50 during 2015); 2) you are in pay status; AND 3) you are contributing an amount towards your regular TSP which will cause you to reach the $18,000 IRS limit by the end of the 2015 calendar year.   The 2015 IRS limit for TSP Catch-up is $6,000.  There are no Agency matching contributions on Catch-up contributions.  You may view and, if necessary, make changes to your election in myPay external link icon (DFAS).  Additionally, you should view your LES each pay period to confirm the deductions.  Unlike regular TSP elections, a Catch-up election is only valid for one calendar year.  Therefore, if you want to make Catch-up contributions each year, you must make a new election each year.

If you have questions, refer them to your Benefits Contact.

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4. Can I Have Dual Enrollments In The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program?

Dual enrollment in FEHB is prohibited external link icon (OPM), except under very limited circumstances.  Dual enrollment is when you or an eligible family member covered under your “self and family” enrollment is also covered under another FEHB enrollment.  For circumstances where dual enrollment is allowed, it must be authorized by the Benefits & Payroll Liaison Branch and will only be allowed when you or an eligible family member would otherwise lose coverage.  For further information, please get in touch with the Benefits Contact for your IC.

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5. Where Can I Find Information On Debt Collections And Garnishments?

The processing and termination of debt collection and wage garnishment actions are the responsibility of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). You must deal directly with DFAS at 888-332-7411. The address is Garnishment Operations-HGA, P.O. Box 998002, Cleveland OH 44199-8002. Documents related to this subject may also be faxed to 216-522-6960.

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6. Can I Name A Minor As The Beneficiary For My Life Insurance?

Yes, you can name a minor as your beneficiary.  However, the Office of Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (OFEGLI) will not make a payment to the child while he/she is a minor.  When the beneficiary is a minor, OFEGLI adheres to certain guidelines external link icon (OPM).  If you wish to designate or change your beneficiary, you may do so at any time by completing a Designation of Beneficiary Form, SF 2823 PDF Icon external link icon (OPM).  After obtaining the signatures of two witnesses, submit your form to the Benefits and Payroll Liaison Branch in Bldg 31/Rm B3C23, MSC 2215.  For employees located at NIEHS, submit your form to Donna Fisher, Keystone Bldg/Room 1108.  If you do not file a designation form, OFEGLI will make payment based on the order of precedence external link icon (OPM) as set by law.  For further information, please get in touch with your Benefits Contact.

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7. Employment And Income Verification – Use TALX – The Work Number ®

The Work Number®, is an automated system that provides proof of employment and income to verifiers. Workforce Solutions is widely known and used by over 50,000 entities including most major financial institutions, mortgage lenders, leasing companies, and private corporations to verify employment and income status of employees. The system provides a secure way for verifiers to obtain your employment information and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Before your information can be released to a verifier, you must give your authorization. NIH employees can use Workforce Solutions - The Work Number® in two easy steps:

  1. Authorize the verification by completing the verifier’s (lender, bank, etc.) authorization form. When you try to access the system as an employee, you will be asked to enter a User ID and a PIN.
    • Your user ID is your full SSN
    • Your initial PIN is the last four digits of your SSN + full birth year (Example: 12341953)

Note: You will be prompted to enroll in the Enhanced Security or Risk Based Authentication. This is mandatory and must be completed in order to use the system.

  1. Provide the verifier with:
    • Workforce Solutions –The Work Number® access options - www.theworknumber.com external link iconor 1-800-367-5690
    • HHS Employer Code: 14775

Salary Key (if needed) (A salary key is a six digit electronic signature created by the employee that is good for a one time use by a verifier)

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8. Why Do I Need A myPay PIN And How Can I Get One?

It is very important to have access to your myPay external link icon (DFAS) account so that you can view your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) each pay day to verify that the correct deductions are being withheld and that your leave balances on your LES match the balances in ITAS. You must also use myPay external link icon to make changes to your home address, TSP contributions, direct deposit of pay, allotments, Federal tax withholdings, and Open Season health benefits elections. Additionally, some state tax withholdings must be made via myPay external link icon (DFAS). If you move to or from Maryland, you must complete a state tax form for your new state and submit it to the Benefits and Payroll Liaison Branch (Bldg 31/Rm B3C23) for processing. However, for movement between other states and/or the District, you must use myPay external link icon (DFAS).

To access the system, you will need your Login and Password. If you have forgotten your Login or Password, click the “Forgot Your Login ID?” or “Forgot or Need a Password?” link on the left side of the myPay external link icon (DFAS) screen. Using this method, your Password can be e-mailed to you if you pre-registered your e-mail address, or it can be mailed to your current home address of record within 7 to 10 business days.

A second option for requesting a Password is to send a fax to 216-367-3549. You will need to include in your request your name, SSN, a daytime phone number, a copy of your NIH ID Card, and you must sign the fax. Upon receiving your fax, the Defense Finance & Accounting Service (DFAS) will reset your Password using a temporary Password. Your temporary Password will be 8 numbers, the last 4 numbers of your SSN twice. You will not receive a notice from DFAS that your Password has been reset. Simply wait at least two business days before logging into myPay external link icon (DFAS) to use your temporary Password. Upon logging in, you will be prompted to reset your Password. Information pertaining to establishing an acceptable Login and Password can be obtained at myPay FAQs external link icon (DFAS).

If you encounter problems with your Login and/or Password or technical issues using myPay external link icon (DFAS), contact the DFAS Centralized Customer Support Unit toll-free at 1-888-332-7411. This support line is available Monday through Friday, 7:00 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time. They can provide assistance on how to use the options available to you in myPay external link icon. They will also provide support for establishing and changing your Login and/or Password.

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9. Where Can I Find Information On Pay And Leave?

You can find a wealth of pay and leave information on our website. Additionally, you can find information on the most frequently asked payroll questions.

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Where Do I Go If I Have Questions About My Benefits?

10. How Can I Get In Touch With My Benefits Contact?

Your contact in the Benefits and Payroll Liaison Branch will be able to help you with a variety of issues pertaining to the health and life insurance programs, designating beneficiaries, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), calculating your retirement annuity estimate NIH-only access, working with you to pay a redeposit for prior civilian service if you previously withdrew your retirement funds, paying a deposit for prior civilian or military service for which retirement deductions were not withheld, etc. To find your benefits contact, review our list of contacts. In addition, the Benefits and Payroll Liaison Branch (BPLB) website has an abundance of information regarding your Federal benefits. Don’t forget to check out the Benefits FAQs section.

Human resource topics not related to your benefits are normally handled by your Client Services Division HR Representative NIH-only access.

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11. Previous NIH Benefits Information - Did You Know E-mails

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