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September 2014 Benefits Newsletter

What's New?

  1. Benefits Calendar Of Events
  2. Expanded Enrollment Opportunities For The Federal Dental And Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)
  3. Information On Phased Retirement

Topics Of Interest:

  1. Important Benefits Notes For Administrative Officers
  2. What Happens To My Health Benefits And Life Insurance Coverage If I Go Into Leave Without Pay (LWOP) Status?
  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. Expanded Enrollment Opportunities For The Federal Dental And Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has approved new enrollment opportunities external link icon for the Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) effective August 15, 2014.  FEDVIP enrollees can now enroll or change plans or options when they experience certain Qualifying Life Events (QLEs). Previously, enrollees had to wait until the annual Federal Benefits Open Season to make these changes. This change to the enrollment opportunities better aligns FEDVIP with the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Enrollment information can be obtained at www.benefeds.com external link icon or 1-877-888-3337.

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3. Information On Phased Retirement

On August 7, 2014, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued final regulations external link icon on Phased Retirement. The final regulations will take effect 90 days from August 8, 2014, which means that Phased Retirement applications can be sent to OPM for processing beginning November 6, 2014.  However, each agency must first develop its own internal policy and implementation plan.   Additional information on Phased Retirement will be forthcoming once the Department has developed the policy and plan for implementation.  There will also be Q&A sessions scheduled.

Phased Retirement provides experienced Federal employees with the option to partially retire while continuing to work on a part-time basis. Participation is entirely voluntary, and requires the mutual consent of both the employee and employing agency. In order to participate, an individual must have been employed on a full-time basis for the preceding three years. Under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), the individual must be eligible for immediate retirement with at least 30 years of service at age 55, or with 20 years of service at age 60. Under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the individual must be eligible for immediate retirement with at least 30 years of service at one’s MRA (Minimum Retirement Age is 55-57 depending on one’s year of birth), or with 20 years of service at age 60.

The working requirements are as follows:

  • Phased retirees must work 50% of the time.
  • The working percentage for a phased retiree may not be changed during the phased retirement period and the combined “working percentage” and “phased retirement percentage” must equal 100%.
  • Except as prescribed by OPM regulation, the retiree must spend at least 20% of his/her working hours in mentoring activities.

Questions may be directed to your Benefits Contact.

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4. Important Benefits Notes For Administrative Officers

When An Employee Enters Leave Without Pay (LWOP) Status – If an employee will be on LWOP for more than 30 consecutive days, a personnel action must be processed.  For guidance, please contact your Client Services Division HR Representative NIH-only Access. Because non-pay status can severely impact an employee’s benefits, it is also very important that you notify your Benefits Contact as soon as you are notified that the employee is going on LWOP.

When An Employee Dies In Service – In the event of the death of an employee, please notify your Benefits Contact immediately.  The Benefits Contact will counsel the employee’s surviving family member(s) on available benefits and assist in the preparation and timely submission of death benefits claim forms.

When An Employee Goes On Active Military Duty – If an employee will be going on active duty, a personnel action must be processed.  For guidance, please contact your Client Services Division HR Representative NIH-only Access.   Because an employee has decisions to make regarding benefits, it is also very important that you notify your Benefits Contact as soon as you are notified that the employee is going on active duty.

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Topics Of Interest:

5. What Happens To My Health Benefits And Life Insurance Coverage If I Go Into Leave Without Pay Status (LWOP)?

Your health benefits coverage will continue for up to 365 days of non-pay status. You have the option of terminating your coverage during the period of non-pay status or continuing the coverage. If you elect to continue your coverage, you will incur a debt or must make direct payments to DFAS while in non-pay status. You will need to sign a Notice of Intent Agreement PDF icon and submit it to your Benefits Contact.   This does not apply if you are claiming compensation from the Department of Labor because of a work-related injury or illness.For more information on LWOP and health benefits under these circumstances, please contact the NIH Workers’ Compensation Specialist on 301-496-2404.

Your life insurance coverage will continue for up to 365 days of non-pay status.  You do not have to pay for the coverage while in non-pay status.  The agency will pay for you, and you will not be required to reimburse the agency for this benefit.  If you do not return within 365 days of non-pay status, your FEGLI coverage will be terminated; however, you have the option of converting to an individual policy. If you are claiming compensation from the Department of Labor, please contact the NIH Workers’ Compensation Specialist for additional information.

For additional information on the impact of LWOP on your Federal benefits, refer to the Fact Sheet Word icon.  Prior to going on LWOP, it is very important that you notify your Benefits Contact.

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6. 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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7. 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 (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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8. 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?

9. 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.

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

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