Chapter President - Susan Ruble
Happy New Year and Welcome 2014. It seems that 2014 will be a better year for federal employees with fewer traumatic events. Federal workers are starting the year with a 1% pay raise, the first in three years. Congress has even managed to pass a budget (that is why we are having these terrible snow storms – joke.) OPM proposed a new rule that would allow agencies to deduct from an employee’s paycheck “delinquent non-tax debts” owed to the government without first obtaining a court order. The debtor can then set up a repayment agreement with the agency or request a hearing to go over the debts. The road to tenure is becoming easier. Currently, federal employees have to serve for a “substantially continuous” three-year period to attain career tenure. “Substantially continuous” is defined as no break in service of more than 30 days. The change will enable feds to earn the status for any three years of total service, “whether or not continuous.” AND, last but to many of us the most important change, the medical benefit programs are adding the status “member plus one.” That means where you might be in the higher cost status of “Family” when it only covers you and a spouse. You can choose a less costly option of “member plus one.”
The above items by no means make everything right. The federal community has repeatedly been singled out for sacrifices, contributing more than 113 billion towards deficit reductions from the three year pay freeze and the increase in retirement contributions. One legacy from 2013 could be insidious in 2014 – falling employee morale. Managing morale will be mission one for managers this year. Last year was one of the worst periods of federal workplace violence since the September 2001 terrorist attacks. Twelve people were slain at the Washington Navy Yard by a federal contractor. Four people were shot at Los Angeles International Airport and a 26-year-old letter carrier was fatally shot as he delivered mail in Prince George’s County.
NARFE is still here and standing. We will continue to oppose the switch to a “chained CPI”. It has been moved off the table until FY16. Your continued membership is vital and getting new members into our chapter and active is critical. Chapter 254 will participate in the District Meeting on February 3rd at the Olde World Restaurant in North Port. All NARFE members are welcome to participate in this meeting. And in May, the chapter will participate in the Annual Florida Convention in Orlando. You are encouraged to participate in your chapter meetings, District and the State Convention.
I look forward to seeing you at our chapter meetings.
SECRETARY, Betty Mahofski
As always, we strive to have interesting and informative speakers at every NARFE meeting.
February 10: MaryAnn Scanlon, Director of Community Relations at Calusa Harbor
March 10: Karen Miller, Criminal Defense Attorney
April 14: Hurricane Prepardness
UPCOMING NARFE ACTIVITY
Florida's District 8 meeting is 3 February 2014. This meeting helps to sets the agenda for the upcoming year and selects personnel to full jobs at the 2014 Florida Federation Convention. The meeting is held at the Old World Restaurant in North Port. A light breakfast and a lunch will be served, cost $10.00.
Florida Federation Convention, 6 - 9 May 2014. The Convention will be held in Orlando, Florida at the Rosen Center. This is a new location. Rosen Center is convenient to all major attractions. It you would like to attend the Convention, contact a chapter officer for more information.
Our chapter in the past went to a Miracle Ball Game at Hammond Field and we have ventured out on a boat ride on the Big M. If you have any suggestions for a group outing - we want to hear them. Come to a chapter meeting an be heard.
2nd VP Sharon Bowman
Article from: National President Joseph A. Beaudo
All too often, the messages coming from Capitol Hill, and even from NARFE, contain bad news for federal employees and retirees. So, it is with great pleasure that I share with you some good news.
The Hill, a widely distributed Capitol Hill newspaper and a staple in every congressional office, has today listed NARFE as having achieved one of the “Top 10 Lobbying Victories for 2013." Here is what The Hill had to say about NARFE:
American Federation of Government Employees, National Treasury Employees Union, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association
Federal workers took a hit from furloughs this year but flexed their lobbying might to win back pay after the government shutdown.
And while retirement benefits for new federal workers are cut in the budget deal, the unions won a lower cap on contractor pay and the addition of a lower-cost option for their workers’ healthcare benefits.
The budget pact also leaves the retirement benefits of the current government workforce untouched. In addition, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) secured a promise from President Obama that he wouldn’t propose new cuts to federal workers’ retirement in his budget next year.
As NARFE National President, I’m sometimes asked, “What has NARFE done for me lately?” This recognizes that NARFE is a powerful and successful lobbying organization that can be counted on to vigorously defend its members and the entire federal community from unfair legislation. I am proud to say that NARFE’s lobbyists are some of the best in the business.
But our professional and highly proficient lobbyists didn’t do this alone. Without our grass-roots advocates on the ground, we would not have enjoyed these successes in 2013. And for that I say thanks, and keep up the good work!
TREASURER'S INFO - Bill Streimer
Calculating tax-exempt portion of annuity
QUESTION: Will the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) calculate the tax-free portion of my annuity and include the information on my 1099-R? I don’t understand why this is referred to as tax-free money.
ANSWER: For most retirees, OPM provides the amount of your annuity that was tax-free on the CSA 1099-R, which you receive each year. But to use that amount in filing your returns, you need to get a copy of Publication 721, Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits. You can download this guide from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website at www.irs.gov. You also can request a copy by calling the IRS at 800-829-1040. This publication includes the formula to use to compute the amount of your annuity that would be tax-exempt. You will have to calculate this deduction and claim it on your tax return.
You paid taxes on your retirement contributions before they were placed in the retirement fund. The IRS uses your contribution to compute the tax-exempt portion of your annuity. The IRS refers to this deduction as the tax-free portion of your annuity. But it is not really “tax free” because you already paid taxes on your contributions.
FLORIDA FEDERATION CONVENTION (May 6 - 8, 2014
Here’s your BIG chance to win some BIG money. Two years ago one of our Chapter members won the Grand prize, $1,000.00 and our Chapter received $100.00 for selling the winning raffle. Lightning can strike twice. There are 3 - $100.00 Consolation Prizes.
There are two separate Raffles: one for the FLORIDA FEDERATION and one for Federal Employee Education & Assistance (FEEA.) All Raffles Tickets will be available at the next Chapter meeting or call Bill Streimer 239 694-1436.
DECEMBER ANNIVERSARY/CHRISTMAS PARTY FOR THE CHAPTER -
CELEBRATING 60 YEARS OF ACTIVITY AND SERVICE.
There was a great turn out of chapter members, guest and officials from the Florida Federation.
Region III VP Donald Stewart presented the award to our Chapter President, Susan Ruble.
OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS
IN EVERY NEWSLETTER, WE PUBLISH THE NAMES OF OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS WE SENT TO WASHINGTON. This list is to remind you that you elected them to represent us. We should let them know that we (NARFE) are strong and have a voice.
SENATOR TELEPHONE FAX EMAIL
Bill Nelson (D) 1-202-224-5274 http://billnelson.senate.gov
Marco Rubio (R) 1-202-224-3041 http://rubio.senate.gov
REPRESENTATIVE TELEPHONE FAX EMAIL
Thomas Rooney (D17) 202-225-3001
CHAPTER 0254 ELECTED OFFICERS FOR 2014
MEMBERSHIP: Sharon Bowman
Welcome to new members Judith Dickson and Marjorie Lord, and to Rose Que who transferred into our chapter. We look forward to meeting each of you at one of our meetings.
SOME INTERESTING THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
“When they (members of Congress) retire, they continue to draw their same pay until they die, except that it may be increased from time to time by cost-of-living adjustments.”
FALSE. When members of Congress retire, resign or are not reelected, they no longer receive a salary. However, if eligible by age and years of service, they may receive a retirement annuity like other federal employees.
Annuities are calculated by a formula using their highest three years of salary, years of service and an accrual rate. As for other federal retirees, the annuities of members of Congress are less than the salary they received while in office. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), a member of Congress who retired at age 50 with 20 years of service would receive 42.5 percent of salary from a Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuity. The annual salary of a member of Congress in 2008 is $169,300. At the end of FY 2006, there were 413 former members of Congress on the civil service retirement rolls: 290 retired under CSRS; 123 retired under FERS. (Some of those retiring under FERS had switched from CSRS to FERS during the 1987 open season.) The FY 2006 average annual annuity paid to those retired under CSRS was $60,768, or $22,908 under FERS. (Note: FY 2006 data are the latest data available from the Offfice of Personnel Management.)
Since 1962, CSRS annuities for all retired federal employees–including members of Congress–have been protected from inflation through periodic cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Retired members of Congress receive the same COLAs as other federal annuitants.
He or she (the named senator or representative) paid nothing in on any kind of retirement, and neither does any other senator or congressman.”
FALSE. Although members of Congress participate in the same retirement systems as all other federal civilian employees, their contribution requirements are higher than for other civil service workers, and their retirement computation formulas are more liberal than most others. That is because the average tenure of a member of Congress is significantly shorter than other federal employees. However, members of Congress under CSRS are required to contribute 1 percent more of their salaries than General Schedule employees to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF), while those covered by FERS are required to contribute 0.5 percent more. CSRS-covered members of Congress presently contribute 8 percent of total salary to CSRDF, and FERS-covered members contribute 1.3 percent. This is in addition to the 6.2 percent of the first $102,000 of salary they all pay to Social Security.
“This fine retirement comes right out of the general fund: our tax money.”
This statement omits crucial information about the financing of the federal retirement system. When federal employees and their employing agencies make contributions to the CSRDF, such money is deposited in the general fund, and a jkgovernment security of equal value is created and credited to the CSRDF. These securities are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government and have the same standing as U.S. Savings Bonds. When funds are needed to pay retirement benefits, securities credited to the CSRDF are converted to cash with money from the general fund. This assertion also attempts to make the reader forget that U.S. taxpayers are the employers of members of Congress and other federal employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 97 percent of all medium and large employers in the United States pay for their employee retirement pension benefits without worker contributions.
Finally, many of the same false claims and arguments being circulated about members of Congress also have been used against federal retirement and health benefits in general. Perpetuation of these false claims undermines NARFE’s efforts to preserve our earned compensation. NARFE members also should recognize that there are a number of lawmakers—past and present—who are fellow members of NARFE.
SERVICE OFFICER - Emma & Joe Valla
The NARFE Chapter 0254 Service Officer provides emotional support and assistance to the family on the loss of their loved ones. A booklet “Be Prepared for Life’s Events’ is available to help plan for this trying time for the survivors.
We are grateful there are no names to list.
At the January chapter meeting, I some how got into a conversation on Medicare. I am a newbee to the program. I was directed to their website: www.medicare.gov
I was unaware of the following information, so I hope this helps any of our readers in the same boat. Susan
MEDICARE INFO - ARE YOU A INPATIENT OR OUTPATIENT?
If You Have Medicare – Ask! Did you know that even if you stay in the hospital overnight, you might still be considered an “outpatient”? Your hospital status (whether the hospital considers you an “inpatient” or “outpatient”) affects how much you pay for hospital services (like X-rays, drugs, and lab tests) and may also affect whether Medicare will cover care you get in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). You’re an inpatient starting the day you’re formally admitted to the hospital with a doctor’s order. The day before you’re discharged is your last inpatient day. You’re an out patient if you’re getting emergency department services, observation services, outpatient surgery, lab tests, or X-rays, and the doctor hasn’t written an order to admit you to the hospital as an inpatient. In these cases, you’re an out patient even if you spend the night at the hospital. Note: Observation services are hospital outpatient services given to help the doctor decide if the patient needs to be admitted as an inpatient or can be discharged. Observation services may be given in the Emergency Department (ED) or another area of the hospital. If you’re in the hospital more than a few hours, always ask your doctor or the hospital staff if you are an inpatient or an outpatient. Read on to understand the differences in Original Medicare coverage for hospital inpatients and outpatients, and how these rules apply to some common situations. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), costs and common situations may be different. Check with your plan.
What do I pay as an inpatient?•
Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers inpatient hospital services. Generally, this means you pay a one-time deductible for all of your hospital services for the first 60 days you’re in the hospital. •Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers most of your doctor services when you’re an inpatient. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for doctor services after paying the Part B deductible.
What do I pay as an outpatient?
•Medicare Part B covers outpatient hospital services. Generally, this means you pay a copayment for each individual outpatient hospital service. This amount may vary by service. Note: The copayment for a single outpatient hospital service can’t be more than the inpatient hospital deductible. However, your total copayment for all outpatient services may be more than the inpatient hospital deductible. •Part B also covers most of your doctor services when you’re a hospital outpatient. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount after you pay the Part B deductible. •Generally, the prescription and over-the-counter drugs you get in an outpatient setting (like an emergency department), sometimes called “self-administered drugs,” aren’t covered by Part B. Also, for safety reasons, many hospitals have policies that don’t allow patients to bring prescription or other drugs from home. If you have Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), these drugs may be covered under certain circumstances. You likely will need to pay out-of-pocket for these drugs and submit a claim to your drug plan for a refund.
Call your plan for more information. For more detailed information on how Medicare covers hospital services, including premiums, deductibles, and copayments, visit: www.medicare.gov/publications to view the
“Medicare & You” handbook. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should
HOPE TO SEE YOU AT THE NEXT CHAPTER MEETING
Meet with your fellow Federal retirees and help us build a stronger Chapter and let our elected Senators and Representative know NARFE is watching them. After the meeting we have lunch. The Smoke'n Pit has some great food and lots of it.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q Why should I attend the monthly Chapter meeting?
A Supporting our Chapter by attending our monthly meeting is a way of keeping NARFE strong.
A strong NARFE helps to ensure that what we worked for will not be bargained away or reduced like so many other
programs Congress has looked at.
Q What happens at these meeting?
A At each meting we usually have a guest speaker. Our speaker's subject material is usually issues important to the group.
Q Can I learn anything?
A By attending the monthly meeting you will learn about future legislations that Congress is proposing.
Knowing in advance what Congress is proposing, we can lobby Congress like the big companies do, and have our
Representative and Senators support us.
Q How long are the meeting?
A Meetings start at 10:30 A.M. and run about an hour to an hour and a half. After the meeting we have lunch. The Smoken
Pit food is very good and reasonable priced.
Q How about FUN at these meeting?
A Depending on the time of year, we plan our Christmas party or a summer outing. This past summer our Chapter went on
the BIG M casino boat, The weather was perfect and so was the buffet.
Q What else takes place at the meeting?
A Chapter meetings are A VALUABLE source of important information - What next year's COLA will be, What is going on in Congress on legislations that will effect NARFE Members (Florida has 165,000 annuitants) and any events that need immediate action such as phone calls, email, or letters to Representatives.
Attending the meetings will also give you a chance to meet other Federal retirees and participate in a worth while
cause, protecting your retirement check.