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March 2017 Benefits Newsletter

What's New?

  1. Benefits Calendar Of Events

Topics Of Interest:

  1. Did You Make a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Election For 2017? Check Your Leave And Earnings Statement To Confirm Your Deductions!
  2. Unsolicited Contacts By Financial Planning Companies
  3. If I Am Eligible For Social Security Benefits, But Still Working, When Should I Apply?
  4. Can I Continue My Federal Health Benefits (FEHB) Coverage Into Retirement?
  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

Topics Of Interest

2. Did You Make A Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Election For 2017? Check Your Leave And Earnings Statement To Confirm Your Deductions!

If you entered a TSP election or elections into myPay for 2017, you should confirm your election(s) in myPay.  Additionally, it is important that you view your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) each pay period to confirm the deductions.  You can also access your LES in myPay.  If you need to adjust your election amount, use the Elective Deferral Calculator on the TSP website  to determine the adjusted amount.  There are 26 pay days in 2017.  Please note that a regular TSP election will automatically continue from one calendar year into the next.  However, a TSP 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. The 2017 IRS annual limit for regular TSP contributions is $18,000, and the annual limit for TSP Catch-up is $6,000.  

After an election is entered into myPay, 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. 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.

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4. If I Am Eligible For Social Security Benefits, But Still Working, When Should I Apply?

If you are beyond age 62 and still working, you will likely want to delay receiving your Social Security Benefits until you stop working OR reach your full retirement age to avoid being affected by the yearly earnings limit.  The earnings limit is the maximum salary you can earn in a year without it causing a reduction in your Social Security benefits.  If you are under your full retirement age for the entire year, $1 will be deducted from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual earnings limit.  During the year in which you reach your full retirement age, $1 will be deducted from your benefit payments for every $3 you earn above the annual earnings limit, but beginning with the month you reach your full retirement age, you can get your benefits with no limit on your earnings.  Your full retirement age depends on your year of birth.

The decision of when to begin receiving your benefits is a personal decision that only you can make.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) website contains information regarding things you should consider.  For questions, please contact a SSA representative at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778), during 7:00 am – 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

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5. Can I Continue My Federal Health Benefits (FEHB) Coverage Into Retirement?

To be eligible to continue your health benefits enrollment into retirement, you must: (1) have retired on an immediate annuity (that is, an annuity which begins to accrue no later than one month after the date of your final separation); and (2) have been continuously enrolled (or covered as a family member) in any FEHB Program plan (not necessarily the same plan) for the five years of service immediately preceding retirement, or if less than five years, for all service since your first opportunity to enroll. 

To view Frequently Asked Questions on continuing health benefits coverage into retirement, refer to the OPM website.  Questions may be directed to 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.

  1. Provide the verifier with:

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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 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 . 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 .

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 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 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 .

If you encounter problems with your Login and/or Password or technical issues using myPay , 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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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, 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.

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

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