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Explanation of Benefits for New Employees

Timeframes to Enroll

60-days from entry on duty date

  • Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB)
  • Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP)
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
  • Federal Long Term Care Insurance (LTC)
  • SAMBA Employee Benevolent Fund (EBF)

Any time from entry on duty date

  • Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB)

Most Federal employees will have a variety of health plans to choose from. Federal employees, retirees, and their survivors, enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country. The Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan section on the OPM website will help you to compare the costs, benefits, and features of the different plans. You have 60 days from your entry on duty date to enroll in a plan. Plan information is available at the OPM website. Once you have decided on a plan, please complete the Health Benefits Registration Form, SF 2809. (You must complete Page 15 of the form and submit it, even if you decline enrollment.) Your enrollment is effective on the first day of the pay period after the SF-2809 is received and following a pay period during any part of which you were in pay status. Therefore, it is to your advantage to decide on a health plan sooner, rather than later, so that you will have health coverage in case of illness or accident. No retroactive payments will be made prior to your effective date.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

HSA is a savings account available to employees, who enroll in High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP), which provides coverage for high-cost medical events and a tax-advantaged way to help build savings for future medical expenses. A HDHP is a health plan with higher annual deductibles (minimum about $1,200 for Self and $2,400 for Family coverage). The annual deductible must be met before plan benefits are paid (exception of preventive care).

For further information regarding HDHP's and HSA's, visit the OPM website.

If you miss the opportunity to obtain health insurance during your first 60 days, you may enroll during the annual FEHB open season, which is mid-November through mid-December each year.

Premium Conversion

Premium Conversion allows employees who are eligible for FEHB the opportunity to pay for their share of FEHB premiums with pre-tax dollars. All employees who enroll in the FEHB Program automatically receive premium conversion tax benefits, unless they waive participation. When an employee experiences a qualifying life event (QLE), which includes marriage, child-birth, divorce, etc., changes to their FEHB coverage (including change to self only and cancellation) and premium conversion election may be permitted, so long as they are because of and consistent with the QLEs. For more information about premium conversion, please refer to the Premium Conversion Election/Waiver Form and Instructions for Completing the Premium Conversion Form.

Federal Employees Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP)

FEDVIP is a voluntary benefits program, separate and different from the FEHB program. Eligible employees and annuitants eligible for FEHB coverage (whether or not enrolled) are eligible to enroll in a dental plan and/or a vision plan. The dental plans will provide a comprehensive range of services. The vision plans will provide comprehensive eye examinations and coverage for lenses, frames and contact lenses. You will pay your premiums with pre-taxed dollars.

You have 60 days from your entry on duty date to enroll in a dental and/or vision plan. Detailed dental and vision plans' information (benefits covered, premiums, and provider directories) is available on the OPM website. Once you have decided on a plan(s), you must enroll on the Internet at the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program website. BENEFEDS is a secure enrollment website sponsored by OPM. Your enrollment is effective the first day of the pay period after received by BENEFEDS.

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)

Most employees can choose a life insurance plan for themselves and eligible family members through FEGLI. The Life Insurance Election Form, SF 2817, must be completed and returned within 60 days of your current appointment, even if you decide not to select the automatic Basic Life coverage.

For additional information, please visit the OPM website. The website also includes a calculator that will help you to determine the type of coverage that you will need, and its cost.

It is up to you to decide what option is best for you. You may choose optional coverage or you may choose to waive all coverage. However, please keep in mind that there are no regular open seasons for life insurance.

SAMBA Employee Benevolent Fund (EBF)

All newly hired permanent full-time and part-time active employees have a 60 day opportunity to enroll in the Special Agents Mutual Benefit Association (SAMBA), Employee Benevolent Fund (EBF), which provides two options: Option 1: $17,500 death benefit to designated beneficiary (ies) for $26 per year or Option 2: $35,000 death benefit for $52 per year. Proof of medical insurability is not required.

To enroll, you must go to the Employee Benevolent Fund section of the SAMBA website and then choose Customs and Border Protection on the agency page.  Follow the directions for the EBF enrollment. Employees are required to provide an e-mail address, your bank account and routing numbers or debit/credit card information. New enrollments will become effective on the first day of the month following the date the first annual contribution is confirmed. For more information, please view the SAMBA FAQs.

The SAMBA EBF sponsors an open season every two to three years for employees who did not previously enroll.

Federal Long Term Care Insurance (LTC)

The John Hancock insurance company administers the LTC program. Unlike some other insurance products, you must apply for the long term care insurance under the Federal program directly with John Hancock, as well as pass a medical screening, in order to be enrolled. Certain medical conditions will prevent some people from being approved for coverage.

To find out if you qualify, please visit the Long Term Care Partners website. The site contains extensive information on the program, applications, and a calculator that you can use to find out how much the insurance will cost, based on your age and the benefits you choose. You may also visit the OPM LTC website.

In order to be covered by LTC you must complete the application for enrollment within 60 days of your current appointment. You may request an application package by visiting the LTC website above or by calling (800) 582-3337.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)

Flexible Spending Accounts allows eligible employees 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 FSA account(s). You will not pay taxes on your allotments.

You have 60 days from your entry on duty date to sign-up for FSA accounts, or until October 1, whichever comes first. If you wish to enroll after October 1, you will need to do so during the open season, which is mid-November to mid-December, with an effective date of January 1 of the following year. For further FSA information and/or to enroll, please visit the FSAFEDS website or call 1-877-FSA-FEDS.

Retirement

You are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) if:

  • You are an employee first hired after December 31, 1983; or
  • You were rehired with a break in service of more than three days after December 31, 1986, with less than five years of creditable service, or
  • You elect to transfer to FERS.

You are covered by Civil Service Retirement Offset (CSRS-offset) if:

  • You are a CSRS employee rehired by the federal government and have a break in service of more than one year and at least five years of creditable service; or
  • You had a break in service after 12/31/86, had at least five years of creditable service as of the last break in service, and have at least one day covered by CSRS.

You are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) if:

  • You are an employee who was hired before 1984; or
  • You were previously covered by CSRS and were rehired by the Federal government with less than a one year break in service.

FERS Benefit Overview

There are three parts to the FERS program: the FERS Basic Benefit, Social Security, and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). We strongly encourage all FERS employees to contribute to TSP.

For detailed information regarding FERS, please review the FERS booklet on the OPM website.

CSRS-Offset Overview

The CSRS-offset is similar to CSRS with one exception. At age 62, if a CSRS-offset employee qualifies for Social Security, the CSRS benefit is reduced to "offset" that part of the retiree Social Security benefit that reflects years of Federal service subject to the Offset Plan. The important thing to remember is that there is no loss of retirement income when the offset is applied.

CSRS-offset employees may contribute to TSP. CSRS and CSRS-offset employees have six months from date of rehire to transfer to FERS.

For CSRS-Offset Information, please visit the OPM website.

CSRS Overview

The CSRS is derived from contributions from the employee and the government, which are deposited into the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund.

CSRS employees may contribute to TSP.

For detailed information regarding CSRS, please review the CSRS booklet on the OPM website.

Credit for Service

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
The TSP is the Federal government's version of the public sector's 401K plan. It is a retirement savings and investment plan in which you do not pay taxes on your contributions and earnings until they are withdrawn from your account. Because TSP contributions are a major portion of the total retirement package of FERS, participation is especially encouraged for employees who are covered by that retirement plan.

New employees covered by either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) may contribute up to $17,000 (in calendar year 2012) to the TSP via payroll deductions. The TSP maximum contribution level for Federal employees each calendar year is equal to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Annual Elective Deferral Limit.

Effective August 1, 2010, all newly hired or rehired employees covered by either FERS or CSRS who are eligible to participate in the TSP will have automatic enrollment in the TSP. This means the Agency will automatically withdraw 3 percent from the new/rehired employee's basic pay as a contribution to the TSP unless the employee declines to contribute or decides to contribute a different amount by completing a TSP Election Form (TSP-1) prior to the end of the first pay period. After the first pay period new employees have 90 days to opt out and receive a refund of all employee contributions and earnings from the automatic enrollment. The TSP does not refund the Agency matching contributions; those contributions are forfeited to the TSP. TSP will provide information about the refund process in the "Welcome to TSP" letter sent to all new employees.

FERS employees will immediately receive Agency contributions comprised of an Agency Automatic Contribution (1%) and Agency Matching Contributions on the first 5 percent contributed by the employee. The match is dollar for dollar for the first 3 percent and 50 cents on the dollar for the remaining 2 percent. The 3 percent automatic enrollment will be matched by the Agency meaning the employee will have 6 percent invested in the TSP while contributing only 3 percent of their own money plus the 1 percent Agency Automatic Contribution.

CSRS employees who are rehires and eligible for TSP will receive the automatic enrollment. However, CSRS employees do not receive Agency contributions. See the summary of the Thrift Saving Plan on the TSP website at.

Thrift Savings Plan Catch-up

Eligible employees age 50 (or turning age 50 during the calendar year) and over who contribute the maximum to their regular TSP account may contribute up to an additional $5,500 to their TSP account. Additional TSP Catch-up information can be found on the Catch-Up Contribtions Fact Sheet.

Transfer/Rollover option

Participants may transfer eligible retirement accounts from former employers or financial institutions into their TSP account. You will need to complete a Request for a Transfer into the TSP (TSP-60) form.

Savings Bonds

The Federal Government encourages the purchase of savings bonds, which are a safe and affordable way to save. Interest on savings bonds is exempt from State and local income tax and federal income taxation can be postponed until you cash your bond or until it stops earning interest in 30 years.

You can even buy savings bonds for a small amount of money. The minimum investment is $25 when buying through financial institutions. Savings bonds have lower risk than most other investment methods.

Please visit the U.S. Savings Bonds website for more information.

Employee Personal Page (EPP)

The National Finance Center (NFC), Employee Personal Page (EPP) is an automated self-service system that allows Federal employees to initiate the processing of certain personnel-payroll transactions electronically. Such transactions include changes to your Financial Allotments, Health Benefits, Thrift Savings Plan, Direct Deposit, Federal and State Taxes, Home Address, and more.

EPP can be accessed via the Internet anytime - 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the NFC website. You will need an EPP User Identification Number and Password to access your personal information. Once you access the website, the use of EPP and other features is self-explanatory and easy.

Benefits Open Seasons

Any Time, Employees Can Use EPP to:

  • Obtain an EPP User ID/Password
  • Civilian Service Credit for Post-1956 Military Service
    If you performed active duty in the military after December 31, 1956 and received an honorable discharge, your military service is potentially creditable toward the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), CSRS-Offset, and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). This covers service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, including the service academies. After June 30, 1960, it also covers service in the Regular Corps or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service, and, after June 30, 1961, service as a commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

You may need to make a monetary deposit plus interest. You will not be charged interest on your deposit if you make that deposit during the three-year interest-free grace period. If you do not make your deposit during this "grace period," which is three years from the date you first become employed under one of the retirement systems, you will be charged interest on the outstanding balance, compounded annually, until payment is completed. Review information on the OPM website to determine whether your Federal retirement benefits are affected by your military service.

Deposits and Redeposits for Civilian Service

  • A deposit is a payment that you could make to the retirement fund to receive full credit for civilian service that was not covered by CSRS or FERS retirement deductions. This kind of service is called deposit or nondeduction service. This could be a temporary appointment, a summer job with a Federal agency, casual employment with the U.S. Postal Service, as well as intermittent and when actually employed (WAE) service.
  • Employees must use EPP during the health insurance Open Season to enroll or change benefits.
  • Change your direct deposit
  • Create or change a financial allotment
  • Change tax withholding
  • Change address request
  • EPP User ID or Password
  • Elect to make or terminate TSP "catch-up" contributions if age 50 and older
  • Elect to make pre-tax contributions to your Health Savings Account (ONLY for employees covered by a High Deductible Health Plan with a HSA)
  • View and print personal information (leave balances, insurance information, Earnings and Leave Statements, W-2 tax withholdings, etc.)
  • NFC will automatically send new employees an EPP pinwithin 30 days of employment (after receipt of first paycheck.)
  • Returning User: On the Login screen of the EPP, click the "Forgot Your User ID" or "Forgot Your Password?" link and follow the on-screen instructions to request a new ID or Password. You may also request to have your new ID/Password emailed to your work email address. You will receive the password via email within 24 hours. For security reasons, NFC will only mail a new password to an employee's official mailing address of record. Therefore, employees must keep address information current with the agency.