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January 2015 Benefits Newsletter

What's New?

  1. Benefits Calendar Of Events
  2. How Can I Confirm My Federal Benefits Open Season Elections?
  3. Expansion Of FEHB Coverage For Certain Full-Time Temporary Employees And Employees On Seasonal Or Intermittent Work Schedules
  4. Annual Leave:  Use It Or Donate It!
  5. Confirm Your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Election(s)

Topics Of Interest:

  1. Are Your Deductions Accurate? Review Your Leave And Earnings Statement To Find Out!
  2. What Happens To My Child’s Health Insurance Coverage When He/She Turns Age 26?
  3. Employment And Income Verification – Use TALX – The Work Number ®
  4. Why Do I Need A myPay PIN And How Can I Get One?
  5. 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. How Can I Confirm My Federal Benefits Open Season Elections?

The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Open Season elections and the 2015 FEHB rate changes (OPM) are effective on January 11, 2015.   You will see these changes reflected on your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) for the pay day of January 30, 2015.  Additionally, the Open Season elections for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and the Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) Program were effective on January 1, 2015.  The FSA change was reflected on your LES for the pay day of January 2, 2015, and the FEDVIP change will be reflected on your LES for the pay date of January 30, 2015.

You can access your LES through myPay (DFAS).  Please verify that all appropriate changes are reflected on your LES.  You will see changes in pay and deductions identified in green.  If you scroll over or click on the green entry, it will show you what the entry was on your last LES and to what it has been changed on the LES you are viewing.  Also, the information identified in blue will allow you to get additional information regarding the entry.

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3. Expansion Of FEHB Coverage For Certain Full-Time Temporary Employees And Employees On Seasonal Or Intermittent Work Schedules

OPM published a final rule on October 17, 2014 allowing agencies to offer Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) coverage to employees on temporary appointments, employees on seasonal schedules who will be working a schedule of fewer than six months per year, and intermittent employees who are expected to work 130 hours per month or more for at least 90 days.  This new rule was effective on November 17, 2014, and makes FEHB coverage available to eligible employees no later than January 2015.

These newly eligible employees will receive the same Government contribution toward the premium as full-time permanent employees.  Additionally, current temporary employees working for 12 consecutive months who are already eligible to enroll in the FEHB Program and who are expected to work for 130 hours per month for at least 90 days will now be eligible to receive the full Government contribution toward the FEHB premium. Eligible employees may enroll in the program within 60 days of being notified of their eligibility.  Letters are being mailed to eligible employees.
Additional information can be found in the Benefits Administration Letter. Questions should be directed to your Benefits Contact.

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4. Annual Leave:  Use It Or Donate It!

At this time of year, employees should review their annual leave balances with the carryover limitation in mind.  For most employees, a maximum of 240 hours may be carried over from one leave year to the next; however, employees in the Senior Executive Service have a maximum of 720 hours that may be carried over.  Annual leave in excess of the carryover limitation is considered “use or lose” leave and must be used or donated by the end of the leave year (Saturday, January 10, 2015) to avoid forfeiture.

If you have “use or lose” annual leave that you don’t plan to use, please consider donating it to the NIH Leave Bank.   Also, keep in mind that due to the closure of the Executive Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government on December 26, you will have an extra day of “use or lose” leave, if you had been scheduled to take leave on that day.  You have the option of donating it.  Your leave donation will help protect the income of your NIH colleagues who are experiencing a personal or family medical emergency and have exhausted all of their own leave.

Donating leave only takes a few minutes.  It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

How to donate:

  1. Donations are made in ITAS.
  2. After you log in, select “Donate to Leave Bank” in the tool bar.
  3. Then enter the type of leave (annual or restored annual), the amount of hours you wish to donate, and select “Ok.”

Information on the Leave Bank can be found on the NIH Leave Bank website or by contacting the NIH Leave Bank Office at 301-443-8393 or LeaveBank@od.nih.gov.

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5. Confirm Your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Election(s)

The 2015 IRS annual limit for regular TSP contributions is $18,000.  If you are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), you could lose valuable matching Agency TSP contributions by reaching the limit before the end of the calendar year.  If you have already entered your regular TSP election in myPay for 2015, you should confirm your election in myPay (DFAS).  Additionally, you should view your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) each pay period to confirm the deductions.  You can also access your LES in myPay (DFAS).  If you need to adjust your election amount, use the Elective Deferral Calculator on the TSP website  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.

In addition to regular TSP contributions, you may also make TSP Catch-up contributions (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.   If you have already entered your TSP Catch-up election in myPay for 2015, you should confirm your election in myPay (DFAS) and the deductions on your LES.  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.

After an election is entered into myPay (DFAS), it will be effective at the beginning of the next pay period, and it will take 1-2 pay periods before it is visible in myPay and on your LES.  Only one regular TSP election and one TSP Catch-up election can be entered into myPay during a pay period.

If you have questions, refer them to your Benefits Contact

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Topics Of Interest:

6. Are Your Deductions Accurate? Review Your Leave And Earnings Statement (LES) To Find Out!

It is very important and your responsibility to review your LES each payday to ensure that proper deductions are being withheld.  You can access your LES at any time in myPay (DFAS).  Should you discover a benefits withholding problem, notify your Benefits Contact immediately.  For other withholding problems, contact your timekeeper or Administrative Officer for assistance.   Your LES is available in myPay for only the past 26 pay periods.  Once your LES has been removed through normal pay period updates, it cannot be regenerated.  We recommend that you print or save the printer friendly version of your LES to a file or disk.  This is very important should an audit become necessary.

If you want the added convenience of receiving an e-mail notification each pay period when your LES is available in myPay (DFAS), you only need to follow a few simple steps.  First, you need to access your account in myPay (DFAS).  Once in myPay, select E-mail Address.  You must enter your Secure Personal E-mail Address twice and click on the primary button.  Finally, click on accept/submit.  You will be asked to confirm your information.  That’s all it takes!  Each pay period you will receive an e-mail informing you once your LES is available.

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7. What Happens To My Child’s Health Insurance Coverage When He/She Turns Age 26?

When your child reaches age 26, he or she is no longer eligible to be covered under your health benefits enrollment.  If your child is no longer eligible for coverage and was your only covered family member, you must submit an election form to your Benefits Contact to change your enrollment to “Self Only.”  The change is not automatic.

You have 60 days from the date your child turns age 26 to notify your Benefits Contact. He/she will give you information on how your child may enroll in his/her own right for Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC) (OPM).  The TCC enrollment can be for up to 36 months and the child will have to pay the full premium (no Government contribution), plus a 2% administrative charge. TCC enrollments are also available to you (coverage for up to 18 months) should you leave the Government and for a former spouse should you get divorced (coverage for up to 36 months). All TCC enrollments must be submitted within 60 days of the event allowing the enrollment.

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8. 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.

  2. 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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9. 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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10. 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?

11. 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.

 

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

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