Members Get Free Access to Federal Health Plans Guide

As an exclusive benefit to NTEU dues-paying members, members will again have access to Consumers’ Checkbook’s online Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees and Annuitants, beginning the first day of the federal open season, November 12, 2018.

The guide will be available through NTEU’s web site starting November 12, www.nteu.org, in the Benefit section throughout Open Season (November 12, 2018 – December 10, 2018)….

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The Clock is Running on Next Shutdown Threat

Unless you were on another planet, you know by now that another short-term continuing resolution (CR) was passed to keep the government open. This CR expires at midnight on February 8, 2018, which means that if a budget deal is not reached in Congress by then and signed by the President, the government will again shut down.

EPA announced before the last shutdown that it had funds to operate for about a week. Assuming that's true, and knowing that we've used one of those days of funds while the rest of the government was shut down, it is likely that EPA will be able to operate through February 14 or 15 before needing to shutter the doors.

NTEU National was on the Hill fighting for us and obtained two large victories....

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Open Season & Free Access to Consumers' Checkbook Comparison Tool

Federal benefits "open season" started today. This is the time that federal employees may change their insurance plans without a qualifying life event. Open season runs through Monday, December 11, 2017. NTEU Members get free access to the awesome Washington Consumer's Checkbook health plan comparison tool.

Employees wishing to change their health insurance company may do so....

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EPA Mistakenly Increases Parking Rates

If you park in the Reagan Building garage (as part of the HQs parking program), your parking costs are not supposed to increase for October. However, we have been contacted by members who informed us that the proposed new rates were nonetheless populated in the pay.gov system.

We notified EPA about this discrepancy and he told NTEU that EPA has been correcting the errors person-by-person for the NTEU bargaining unit (members and non-members). If you find that your bill for October has increased from last month (either as an individual parker or as part of a carpool) please let us know ASAP so we can notify management and get it corrected.
 
We have demanded to bargain the proposed increase and submitted initial proposals, but negotiations have not yet been scheduled. Until negotiations are concluded, there should be no change in the parking fees.

We will keep members informed of any progress and of course any final agreement with regard to this situation. Thanks to those of you who sent me comments, information, and suggested proposals. Feel free to continue to do that and I welcome any calls to further discuss this or any other issues.

To stay up to date, please join here.

NTEU Wins Transit Subsidy Settlement

NTEU successfully negotiated a transit-subsidy reimbursement for employees for owed back transit benefits, and the deal has now been signed.

Recall a few years back Congress increased the amount of transit subsidy for employees from $130 per month maximum to $250 per month for those with higher transit costs. Despite Congress increasing the subsidy, EPA refused to increase the benefits, costing employees thousands of dollars in lost benefits.

NTEU challenged EPA's failure and the case has now settled.  You will be able to claim your actual transit costs up to the maximum of $250 for any time after Congress increased the amount that EPA did not allow. You will have 30 days to submit your claim after EPA makes the official announcement.

We are trying to get the agency to give to employees actual amounts employees were reimbursed, but thus far have been unsuccessful. As a result, you may need to reconstruct the amounts you were paid yourself based upon your own records. We know this is difficult to do and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. But given that you could be reimbursed around $3,000, it is worth your time.

This is another benefit brought to you by NTEU. If you have not yet joined, please do so now by clicking here and filling out the SF-1187 dues withholding form. The more employees who join, the stronger we are in negotiations such as these and able to get your direct benefits.

New Electronic Transit Enrollment Form

Click to visit EPA HQ's new transit subsidy application and renewal form.

Click to visit EPA HQ's new transit subsidy application and renewal form.

EPA finally is doing away with that cumbersome PDF transit benefits enrollment/recertification form, in favor of a web-based form.

While the form has not been officially rolled out agency wide, it can nonetheless be accessed and completed by clicking here. Submitting this form is the same as submitting the old PDF-based form.

Note that you will need to sign into EPA's Intranet, however, to access the form.

Metro Fares Increase - Time to Recalculate Transit Subsidy

This week Metro raised rail and bus fares.

According to WTOP, "Rail fares would rise 10 cents at rush hour and 25 cents off-peak, including an increase for the maximum rush-hour fare to $6 and the maximum off-peak fare to $3.85. Parking fees would rise 10 cents. Bus fares will rise 25 cents, to $2. ... Express Bus fares would rise to $4.25 and airport express buses to Dulles and BWI-Marshall would rise to $7.25." It will now cost a minimum of $2.25 to ride Metrorail during peak hours and a minimum of $2 for off-peak trips.

Click the image to download the transit subsidy form.

Click the image to download the transit subsidy form.

We reached out to management on whether or not EPA will automatically include the higher fares in your transit subsidy. Unsurprisingly, it will not. The burden to ensure you're receiving the correct reimbursement under the federal transit subsidy is on you, the employee.

Download this form, fill it out reflecting the higher fares on your commute, and submit it to group_transit@epa.gov.

The cut-off date for increasing your transit subsidy benefits is the 21st of each month. Provided you submit your form before July 21, you new subsidy will take effect in August. If you miss the 21st, your subsidy will not take effect until the following month, in the case of our example, September.

Cutting Federal Pension System Would Add to Nation’s Retirement Crisis

The administration’s forthcoming budget proposal for 2018 is expected to include devastating cuts to the retirement benefits of federal employees, marking yet another unwarranted attack on middle-class civil servants that the National Treasury Employees Union will strongly oppose.
 
The proposed changes will cut the pay of federal employees by increasing their retirement contributions repeatedly for consecutive years. This would easily negate....

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Open Season Ends December 12

Don't forget that "open season" for federal employees ends at midnight on Monday, December 12, 2016. Open season is the time when you can change your health, dental, and vision plans and create a healthcare flexible spending account without a qualifying life event. OPM has a countdown clock, along with more information on open season here.

NTEU members get FREE access to the awesome Washington Consumers' Checkbook Guide to Health Plans, which lets you see how the plans compare on price and features. If you want Guide access and have not yet joined, please contact NTEU Executive Vice President Amer Al-Mudallal directly at 202-566-2789 to process your membership form. Since Guide access is provided through NTEU's national website, and membership-form processing normally takes some time, we'll need to handle your form specially to ensure you get full access to the NTEU website before the deadline.

If you've already joined but still do not have access, please contact NTEU's national membership coordinator Margaret Allen at 202-572-5500, provide her your name and full social security number, and let her know that you need access soon to the NTEU website members-only materials.

In addition to the Guide to Health Plans, members also save money through a bunch of discounts provided by NTEU. If you take full advantage of these discounts, you can effectively offset the entire cost of your yearly membership.  Click here to see a complete list of member benefits in this PDF.

 

Federal Benefits "Open Season" & Free Consumer's Checkbook Plan Comparison

How to get your free Washington Consumer's Checkbook's Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees.

How to get your free Washington Consumer's Checkbook's Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees.

Once a year the federal government lets its employees make changes to their health, dental, and vision plans and flexible spending accounts without having what's known as a qualifying life event, such as a marriage, birth, death, or other qualifying event. This once-a-year time to change is known as "open season" in fed-speak.

This year's open season runs from November 14 to December 12, 2016.

But how do you decide which health plan is right for you? As a benefit of being an NTEU member, NTEU provides free access to the Washington Consumer's Checkbook's Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees, which normally costs $10 per person. This excellent, easy-to-use guide takes you through a few simple steps to find the best health plan for you and your family. Find every plan available to you ranked by estimated out-of-pocket costs and more.

Not a member of NTEU, visit our Join page and sign up now to get your free health benefits guide starting November 14. The image, above, is NTEU's publication on this free access (click it to download a PDF document).

Long-term Care Insurance Premium Increases

Many of you know that you're eligible for long-term care insurance as a federal employee. The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) helps you pay for care when you are ill, injured, or disabled. Long term care is care that you need if you can no longer perform everyday tasks by yourself due to a chronic illness, injury, disability or the aging process.

In the past, premiums were relatively stable. However, in 2010 the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) approved premium increases. On Tuesday OPM briefed NTEU's national office regarding yet another premium increase. If you have coverage, expect significant premium increases on November 1, 2016....

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