Why work for the BLM?
If your appointment confers eligibility for the Federal Employees Retirement System 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.
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.
Temporary employees are not eligible to be enrolled in a retirement program, but your earnings do contribute to your Social Security earnings.
Back to top
Thrift Savings Plan
The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for federal employees. It offers federal civilian employees the same type of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. The IRS limits the amount of your contribution per year to $15,000 (this amount is subject to change annually).
There are three sources of TSP contributions:
Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions
There are two types of employee contributions
Regular employee contributions
Regular Employee Contributions: These are payroll deductions eligible employees can make from basic pay before taxes are withheld. You can begin making these contributions at any time.
Catch-up Contributions: These are payroll deductions that participants who are age 50 or older may be eligible to make in addition to regular employee contributions. These deductions are also taken from before-tax basic pay. To be eligible to make catch-up contributions, you must already be contributing the maximum amount of employee contributions. Once you are eligible, you can begin making catch-up contributions at any time.
Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions
If you are a FERS employee, your agency will contribute an amount equal to one percent of the basic pay you earn each pay period to your account. These contributions are called Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions. To get these contributions, you do not need to be making employee contributions. However, new FERS employees (and rehired FERS employees who were not previously eligible for agency contributions) must serve a waiting period before becoming eligible for agency contributions. See the chart for more information on the eligibility dates for these contributions. Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions are not taken out of your pay; nor do they decrease the dollar amount of your pay for income tax or Social Security purposes.
Vesting: Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions are subject to “vesting.” You become “vested” in (that is, entitled to keep) these contributions and any earnings they accrue only after you have completed a time-in-service requirement — which is 3 years. All federal civilian service counts toward vesting — not just service while you are a TSP participant.
FERS employees receive matching contributions from their agencies on their regular employee contributions as soon as they become eligible for agency contributions. If you are a FERS participant, you receive Matching Contributions on the first five percent of pay that you contribute each pay period. The first three percent of pay that you contribute will be matched dollar-for-dollar; the next two percent will be matched at 50 cents on the dollar. Contributions above five percent will not be matched. If you stop making regular employee contributions, your Matching Contributions will also stop. Like Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions, Matching Contributions are not taken out of your pay. They also do not increase the dollar amount of your pay for income tax or Social Security purposes. Combined with the Agency Automatic (1%) Contribution, they can add as much as five percent of basic pay to your TSP account. (See the chart below.)
CSRS participants do not receive matching contributions. There are no matching contributions for catch-up contributions.
Eligibility Dates for Agency Automatic
and Matching Contributions
If your FERS employment begins: Your agency contributions will begin the 1st full pay period of:
06/1/07 - 11/30/07 June 2008
12/1/07 - 05/31/08 December 2008
06/1/08 - 11/30/08 June 2009
You have 60 days from your entry upon 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 cannot be made effective the day you enter on duty. The earliest that your health insurance can possibly become effective is the beginning of your second pay period.
The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) is one of the most valuable benefits of the Federal employment, but coverage is not automatic – you must select one of the 16 available health plans from one of 10 different companies in order to be covered.
Back to top
If you are in a position eligible for benefits, you are automatically enrolled in BASIC life insurance, which is effective on the first day you enter in a pay or 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
No proof of insurability is required for the Basic insurance you get upon being hired or any optional insurance you sign-up for during the first 31 days. Proof of insurability may be required for insurance changes after that time.
The Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Program (FEGLI) 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 children.
Flexible Spending Accounts
You have 60 days from your entry upon duty to sign-up for the 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 Accounts 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 employments taxes.
FSAs are not carried over from one year to the next, so during each annual open season, you must re-enroll.
Two FSAs are being offered to eligible employees:
A Health Care FSA (HCFSA ), through which you use pre-tax dollars to pay for certain health expenses that are not reimbursed by FEHB or any other source and are not claimed on your income tax return. The maximum amount you may set aside in any tax year is $4,000 and the minimum is $250.
A Dependant Care FSA (DCFSA), through which you use pre-tax dollars to pay for eligible dependant expenses. The maximum amount you may set aside in any tax year is $5,000 ($2,500 if you are married and filing a separate tax return) and the minimum is $250.
For more information on the FSAFEDS Program click here
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 it 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.
Changes You Can Make Outside of Open Season
If you choose to make a change to your enrollment, you must make the change within 60 days of the event
Health Insurance: Outside of open season, you can enroll in the FEHB Program, change your enrollment, change to self only or cancel coverage only in connection with certain events called qualifying life events (QLEs).
The major QLEs that permit enrollment or change in enrollment are:
A change in family status:
- birth or adoption of a child
- acquisition of a foster child
- legal separation
- death of a spouse or dependent
A change in employment status:
- you are reemployed after a break in service of more than 3 days
- you return to pay status after your coverage terminated during leave without pay status or because you were in leave without pay status for more than 365 days
- your pay increases enough for premiums to be withheld
- you are restored to a civilian position after serving in the uniformed services
- you change from a temporary appointment to an appointment that entitles you to a government contribution
- you change to or from part-time career employment
You or a family member lose FEHB or other coverage:
- under another FEHB enrollment because the covering enrollment was terminated, canceled, or changed to self only
- under another federally-sponsored health benefits program
- under Medicaid or similar state-sponsored program for the needy
- You lose coverage under CHAMPVA, TRICARE, or TRICARe-for-Life
- When you had previously suspended your FEHB coverage to participate in one of these programs
- because your membership terminates in the employee organization sponsoring the FEHB plan
- under a non-federal health plan
When one of these events occur, you may:
- change your enrollment from self only to self and family
- change your enrollment to another FEHB plan or option
- change your enrollment to self only*
- cancel your enrollment*
* A change to self only may be made only if the QLE causes the enrollee to be the last eligible family member under the FEHB enrollment. A cancellation may be made only if the enrollee can show that as a result of the QLE, he or she and all eligible family members now have other health insurance coverage.
You can cancel a waiver
of Option B and/or Option C (or increase the multiples you carry) because of one of these events:
- death of a spouse;
- acquiring an eligible child.
You must file the election with your employing office on an SF 2817 , Life Insurance Election form, along with proof of the event, no later than 60 days after the date of the event.
Back to top