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Healthcare Enrollment

New Federal Employee Enrollment

As a new employee there are some decisions you will need to make, most within 31 or 60 days from your entry date. See the information on these decisions in the boxes at the beginning of the benefit descriptions below.

Health Insurance

You have 60 days from your entry on duty date to sign-up for a health insurance plan. If you don't make an election, you are considered to have declined coverage and you must wait until the next Open Season to enroll.

VERY IMPORTANT:

Enrollment is not retroactive, and it cannot be made effective the day you enter on duty as you must have been in a pay status during some part of the pay period which precedes the one in which your enrollment becomes effective. Once this requirement has been met your enrollment will become effective on the first day of the first pay period that begins after your employing office receives your enrollment request. Thus the earliest your health insurance can possibly become effective is the beginning of the pay period that begins after the pay period in which you are hired. You cannot be reimbursed for any medical expenses incurred prior to the effective date. You need to consider this in cancelling any other health insurance coverage you may already have, and for scheduling doctor visits or tests.

The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program is one of the most valuable benefits of Federal employment, but coverage is not automatic — you must enroll in one of the more than 100 available health plans in order to be covered.

Although you have 60 days to enroll, it is to your advantage to make this election soon in order to be covered in case of accident or illness. There is no retroactive coverage of your expenses prior to the effective date of your enrollment. The policy will begin coverage on the effective date, however, and will cover expenses that occur on or after that date, even for conditions occurring before that date (pre-existing condition coverage).

Further information on the FEHB Program

Premium Conversion is a "pre-tax" arrangement that allows the part of your salary that goes for health insurance premiums to be non-taxable. This means you save on Federal income tax and FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare taxes). In most cases, you'll also save on State income tax and local income tax. The payroll office will sign you up for Premium Conversion automatically. You don't need to fill out a form. You do have a choice, though, to waive premium conversion despite the savings.

Dental and Vision

The Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) is available to eligible Federal and Postal employees, retirees, and their eligible family members on an enrollee-pay-all basis. This Program allows dental and vision insurance to be purchased on a group basis which means competitive premiums and no pre-existing condition limitations. Premiums for enrolled Federal and Postal employees are withheld from salary on a pre-tax basis. There are seven dental plans and three vision plans to choose from.

New and newly-eligible employees can enroll during the 60 days after they become eligible.

Eligible individuals can enroll in a dental plan and/or a vision plan. They may enroll in a plan for Self Only, Self plus one, or Self and family coverage.

Employees must be eligible for the FEHB Program in order to be eligible to enroll in FEDVIP. It does not matter if you are actually enrolled in FEHB - eligibility is the key.

Further information on the FEDVIP Program

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Flexible Spending Accounts

You have 60 days from your entry on duty to sign-up for Flexible Spending Account(s), or until October 1, whichever comes first. Applications for the current calendar year are not accepted from October 1 through December 31. If you wish to enroll after October 1 you will need to do so during Open Season for the following year.

The Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFeds) allows you to pay for certain health and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars. You may choose to make a voluntary allotment from your salary to your FSAFEDS account(s). You will not pay employment or income taxes on your allotments and your employing agency also avoids paying employment taxes.

FSAs are not carried over from one Plan Year to the next, so each fall during the annual Open Season, you must make a new election for the upcoming Plan Year.

There are three types of FSAs offered by FSAFEDS. Each type has a minimum annual election of $100 and a maximum of $2,500 per participant for a health care FSA and $5,000 per household for a dependent care FSA.

  • Health Care FSA (HCFSA)- Pays for eligible health care expenses (such as copayments, deductibles, over-the-counter medications and products, vision and dental expenses, and much more) for you and your dependents that are not covered or reimbursed by FEHBP or FEDVIP coverage or any other insurance.
  • Limited Expense Health Care FSA (LEX HCFSA) - Designed for employees enrolled in or covered by a High Deductible Health Plan with a Health Savings Account. Eligible expenses are limited to dental and vision care expenses for you and your dependents, that are not covered or reimbursed, by FEHB or FEDVIP coverage or any other insurance.
  • Dependent Care FSA (DCFSA) - Pays for eligible dependent care expenses for your child(ren) under age 13 or for dependents unable to care for themselves that allow you (and your spouse if married) to work, look for work (as long as you have earned income for the year), or attend school full-time.

Further information on the FSAFEDS Program

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Life Insurance

If you're in a FEGLI-eligible position, you're automatically enrolled in Basic life insurance, it is effective on the first day you enter in a pay and duty status UNLESS you waive this coverage before the end of your first pay period. You do NOT get any Optional insurance automatically – you have to take action to elect it.

You have 31 days from your entry date to sign up for any Optional life insurance. If you do not make an election, you are considered to have waived optional insurance.

You do not need proof of insurability for the Basic insurance that you get when you are first hired, or any optional insurance for which you enroll during the first 31 days. Proof of insurability may be required for insurance changes you request after that time.

The Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance Program offers:

  • Basic Life Insurance — equal to your annual basic pay, rounded to the next higher $1,000, plus $2,000.

Plus three types of optional insurance:

  • Option A, Standard — in the amount of $10,000.
  • Option B, Additional — in an amount from one to five times your annual basic pay (after rounding up to the next $1,000).
  • Option C, Family — provides coverage for your spouse and eligible dependent children.

Further information on the FEGLI Program

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Long Term Care Insurance

You (and your spouse, if you're married) have 60 days from your entrance date to apply for Long Term Care Insurance using the abbreviated underwriting application with only a few health-related questions. If you apply AFTER the 60 day period, you will have to use the long underwriting application with numerous health-related questions, and possibly a review of medical records and/or an interview with a nurse

The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) provides long term care insurance for Federal employees and their parents, parents-in-law, stepparents, spouses, and adult children.

If you're newly employed in a position that conveys eligibility for FEHB coverage, you can apply for long term care insurance, even if you don't enroll in the FEHB Program. Check with your Human Resources Office if you are unsure about your eligibility.

Long term care insurance is NOT just for older people. Forty percent of the persons receiving long term care are working age adults between the ages of 18 and 64, with many of these people receiving benefits as they recover from an accident or crippling disease. The cost of the insurance is based on your age when you apply - the older you are when you apply, the higher the premiums. Certain medical conditions, or combination of conditions, will prevent some people from being approved for coverage. Not everyone who applies will be approved for the insurance coverage.

Further information on FLTCIP

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Leave

Most Federal employees earn both annual and sick leave...

Annual Leave is used for vacations, rest and relaxation, and personal business or emergencies. New full-time employees earn 4 hours of annual leave each 2 week pay period. When you have 3 years of service this increases to 6 hours every 2 weeks, and at 15 years it increases to 8 hours every 2 weeks. Most military service counts toward the time required to go into the next higher annual leave category. Most employees can carry over no more than 30 days of annual leave into the next leave year. See our annual leave fact sheet.

Sick Leave is used for

  • personal medical needs
  • care of a family member
  • adoption related purposes

Full-time employees earn 4 hours of sick leave every 2 weeks. You can accrue this leave without limit. See our sick leave fact sheet.

Further information on Federal leave programs

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Retirement Program

If your appointment confers eligibility for the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) your agency will automatically enroll you in this program.

Almost all new employees are automatically covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). FERS is a three-tiered retirement plan. The three tiers are:

  • Social Security Benefits
  • Basic Benefit Plan
  • Thrift Savings Plan

You pay full Social Security taxes and a small contribution to the Basic Benefit Plan. In addition, your agency will set up a Thrift Savings Plan account for you and will automatically contribute an amount equal to 1% of your basic pay each pay period. These Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions are not taken out of your salary, and your agency makes these contributions whether or not you contribute your own money to the TSP.

You are also able to make tax-deferred contributions to the TSP and a portion is matched by the Government. Your agency will invest $1.00 for every $1.00 you invest for the first 3 percent of your basic salary, and 50 cents for each $1.00 you invest for the next 2 percent of your basic salary. The agency contributions are not taken out of your salary; they are an extra benefit to you.

You can start, change, stop, and resume TSP contributions at any time. There is no waiting period.

The best way to assure that your retirement income meets your needs is to start investing in the Thrift Savings Plan at the beginning of your Federal service, and to continue to do so throughout your career. It is particularly important for higher-paid employees to save enough through the TSP since Social Security replaces a smaller percentage of the income of higher-paid workers than it does for lower-paid workers. You may contribute up to the maximum amount permitted by Internal Revenue Service regulations, currently 15 percent of your basic pay.

Further information on the FERS Program

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Designations of Beneficiary

If you die while you are a Federal employee, payments will be made in a particular order set by law for:

  • Life Insurance (FEGLI)
  • Unpaid Salary
  • Thrift Savings Plan funds
  • Retirement funds (Lump Sum payment of salary deductions when a survivor annuity is not paid)

Standard rules determine who is eligible to receive these payments. If you are satisfied with the order of payment for that program, you do not have to take any action. But if you want these funds to go to someone else, you need to file a Designation of Beneficiary for that program.

Further information on designations of beneficiary

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