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February 2016 Benefits Newsletter

What's New?

  1. Benefits Calendar Of Events
  2. Confirm Your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Election(s)!
  3. Health Benefits “Self Plus One” Limited Enrollment Opportunity Period: February 1 – 29!

Topics Of Interest:

  1. The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) – Know The Facts!
  2. Unsolicited Contacts By Financial Planning Companies
  3. What Happens To My Child’s Health Insurance Coverage When He/She Turns Age 26?
  4. What Happens To My Child’s Life Insurance Coverage When He/She Turns Age 22?
  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

2. Confirm Your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Election(s)!

The 2016 IRS annual limit for regular TSP contributions PDF Icon external link icon 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 2016, 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 access your LES in myPay external link icon (DFAS).  If you need to adjust your election amount, use the Elective Deferral Calculator external link icon on the TSP website external link icon  to determine the adjusted amount.  There are 26 pay days in 2016.   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 PDF Icon external link icon (TSP), if you meet the following criteria:  1) you are age 50 or over (or will be age 50 during 2016); 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 2016 calendar year.   The 2016 IRS limit for TSP Catch-up is $6,000.   If you have already entered your TSP Catch-up election in myPay for 2016, you should confirm your election in myPay external link icon (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 external link icon (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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3.Health Benefits “Self Plus One” Limited Enrollment Opportunity Period: February 1 – 29!

During the recent Federal Benefits Open Season, the new “Self Plus One” enrollment type became available under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program.  The Self Plus One type allows you to cover yourself and one eligible family member. 

Because the new enrollment type is a change of unprecedented proportion in the FEHB Program, OPM announced an additional limited enrollment period for 2016. The limited enrollment period runs from February 1-29, 2016, and is only to allow individuals who missed the Open Season an opportunity to decrease their enrollment from Self and Family to Self Plus One. This is the only change that will be permitted.  No change in health plans is allowed.

Enrollment changes must be made in myPay external link icon under “FEHB Limited Enrollment Period” during the period of February 1-29.  If you encounter a myPay external link icon system issue, you may submit a Health Benefits Election Form, SF 2809 PDF Icon external link icon to the Benefits and Payroll Liaison Branch (BPLB). Your election form must be received in BPLB (Bldg. 31/Rm B3C23), during the period of February 1-29. For employees located at NIEHS, the BPLB Office is located in Keystone, Room 1108. You should write “Limited Enrollment Opportunity Change” on the top of your election form. Rates external link icon for the Self Plus One type and Frequently Asked Questions external link icon can be found on the OPM website.

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Topics Of Interest

4. The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) – Know The Facts!

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) external link icon is a retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees and members of the uniformed services.  To learn about the importance of contributing to the TSP, take a few minutes to view the following short, informative videos: 

The 2016 IRS annual contribution limit for regular TSP contributions is $18,000.  In addition to regular TSP contributions, you may also make TSP Catch-up contributions external link icon, if you meet certain criteria.  The 2016 IRS annual limit for TSP Catch-up is $6,000.  You may start, stop, or change your TSP contributions at any time by using myPay external link icon

To view additional information, visit the TSP website external link icon.  If you have questions, refer them to your Benefits Contact.

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5. Unsolicited Contacts By Financial Planning Companies

The Benefits and Payroll Liaison Branch of the Office of Human Resources (OHR) has received a number of calls from NIH employees who have been contacted by financial planning company representatives.  The representatives are asking to meet to discuss benefits and are implying they represent the NIH or the Federal Government in an attempt to target employees as clients.  The Benefits and Payroll Liaison Branch administers the Federal benefits program for NIH.  It is not the practice of OHR to contact employees in any manner to sell financial planning information.  We have no connection with, or responsibility for, any "supplemental" financial planner.  Our branch does not use sales agents or telephone solicitations of any kind.   

It is also important that you watch out for e-mail solicitations.  If you receive an e-mail pertaining to your benefits, check to see if the e-mail is coming from an internal NIH source or an outside source.  E-mails from outside sources are usually easily identifiable.  The sender’s e-mail address does not end with a .gov suffix, and typically there is a brief footnote at the bottom of the e-mail in small print stating that the sender’s company is not affiliated with the Federal Government.  All Federal employees are free to pursue financial planning with outside sources.  However, employees should not be misled into believing that the caller or e-mail represents or is sponsored by NIH or the Federal Government.  Should you have any questions, please notify your Benefits Contact.

6. 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” coverage.  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) external link icon (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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7. What Happens To My Child’s Life Insurance Coverage When He/She Turns Age 22?

When your child reaches age 22 (or marries before age 22) he or she is no longer eligible to be covered under your life insurance family enrollment. This is true even if your child is still in school.  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 cancel the Option C-Family coverage.  The change is not automatic.

To determine if you have Option C-Family, review your most recent SF-50 (Notification of Personnel Action) or your Leave and Earnings Statement in myPay external link icon (DFAS). If your two-digit life insurance code ends in number 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, then you are carrying Option C.  Loss of coverage due to marriage or reaching age 22 does not afford one the opportunity to convert Option C to an individual policy.  If you have specific questions, please notify your Benefits Contact.

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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.

  1. Provide the verifier with:
    • Workforce Solutions –The Work Number® access options - www.theworknumber.com external link icon or 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 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 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.  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.    

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. 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, 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.

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

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