Weekly Updates

National Boss's Day, Learning Opportunities, Vaccine Exemptions, & More

October 15, 2021
National Boss's Day 2021

We thank each of you who work as leaders or mentors for your service, your commitment, and your dedication on this National Boss's Day!

Federal Benefits & Retirement - Join Our Webinars

PMA's financial advisor, Wade Guemmer, will offer complimentary presentations to members to review your federal benefits in retirement as well as the benefits of leveraging Roth IRA and Roth TSP options.

Join us on Thursday, October 21st, at 3PM Eastern, to learn more about the fundamentals of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Wade will review pension and supplement basic calculations, different retirement options, Social Security basics, FEGLI, survivor annuities, TSP funds and the TSP Modernization Act, and tax implications you or your estate may face if leaving funds in TSP versus an IRA. RSVP and learn more.

Join us on either Wednesday, October 27th, at 2PM Eastern or Thursday, October 28th, at 3PM Eastern, to learn more about Roth IRAs and Roth TSP accounts. These options can provide important, tax-free sources of income for you or your heirs and we don't want our members to miss out on this important information. You will learn about the tax benefits of Roth accounts, how to produce tax-free benefits and tax-free distributions, how to fund your Roth account strategically from a Traditional IRA through conversions without going into a higher tax bracket, and how to make the most of the new TSP withdrawal options to make systematic Roth conversions. Members can RSVP for either Wednesday or Thursday and learn more.

As a reminder, PMA members can contact Wade to set up a personal consultation to review your financial situation ahead of retirement. Many PMA members find this to be one of their most favorite benefits.

PMA Announces Consultative Agreement with the IRS

As work to deepen and formalize our relationship with the Internal Revenue Service, we are proud to announce that we signed a joint agreement with the agency as part of our PMA@40 Campaign. “PMA has been an important partner for the IRS and plays an important role providing a voice for managers,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We appreciate their input on important tax administration matters and helping us serve the nation’s taxpayers."

The agreement is a mutual partnership to improve IRS operations, personnel management, and employee effectiveness. It also helps to facilitate the exchange of information, including ideas, opinions, and proposals. It will help to establish policies that best serve the public interest in accomplishing the mission of the IRS. At its heart, the consultative agreement establishes a framework for regularly consulting and communicating with management teams to ensure the success of IRS processes. Read our full press release and the agreement.

There's never been a better time to join PMA and lend your voice to help make our agency a better place for career managers, management officials, and other NBU workers. To join, complete this form and send it to us today.

SFWT Shares Additional Guidance on Vaccine Exemptions

We are continuing to work with the IRS, the Treasury Department, and the Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce (SFWT) to be sure IRS managers have everything they need to navigate the vaccine mandate in EO 14043. The SFWT issued guidance to help agencies collect the right type of information from workers seeking medical and religious exemptions, which Treasury used to develop some standard forms and guidance for our workforce. The IRS is currently working around the clock to get that information ready for managers and their teams. You should begin to see additional information next week to help answer questions you and your staff may have.

We did want to proactively share that the reasonable accommodation process and the religious accommodation process for the vaccine mandate will be centralized. The IRS is currently putting that review process in place. This means that first- and second-level managers are not the deciding official for these requests. If an employee provides a Form 13661 seeking a vaccination exemption, all you need to do if send it off to the RA team. Religious requests will soon be standardized with a form and the EDI office will work with those who have already reached out to help them access the forthcoming form and gather the information needed to make a determination. Again, we want to stress that the requesting worker's management chain is not going to be making these determinations. This was important for PMA because we want our members to be protected from claims of discrimination. We are very confident after our discussions with HCO that the IRS has a very strong plan in place to manage this process and it will work well if managers are careful to follow all the guidance.

Retirees to See Largest COLAs Since 1982

Social Security announced Wednesday that the annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be 5.9% in 2022 – the largest increase in benefits payments since 1982 when the COLA was 8.7%.

The federal government’s Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) calculates the Social Security cost of living on the annual change in the third quarter consumer price index for workers. If CSRS sees an increase of under 2 percent, Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) retirees receive the full COLA. If the adjustment is between 2 percent and 3 percent, FERS enrollees receive a 2 percent increase. And if the CSRS COLA is 3 percent or more FERS retirees receive 1 percentage point less.

Retirees enrolled in CSRS will see the 5.9% increase to their annuity payments in 2022, while retired federal employees who are enrolled in FERS will only receive a 4.9% increase to their annuities.

On January 13, 2021, Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11) introduced HR 304 – the Equal COLA Act. The legislation is intended to achieve parity between the cost-of-living adjustment with respect to an annuity under FERS and CSRS. This bipartisan legislation that would ensure that federal retirees in FERS and CSRS both receive the same annual percentage cost of living increase each year. PMA supports this legislation and will continue to fight for our lifetime members to be sure they can enjoy a secure retirement.

FEHBP Open Season

Health Benefits Open Season will begin November 8th. Federal benefits expert Tammy Flanagan put together this helpful to-do list and some shopping tips to help you get ready for the event. One part of the FEHB which has caused confusion for some of our lifetime members are Medicare Advantage plans. PMA members enjoy exclusive, complimentary access to Consumers' Checkbook - access will go live on November 8th. To be sure you can access the tool when it is available, make sure you have created an account in our new member portal. Your account on our old website will not work with the new portal.

Most retirees enroll in Medicare Parts A and B and use an FEHB plan as secondary coverage, but some annuitants enroll in Medicare Advantage plans, which often advertise low premiums and enhanced benefits, and suspend their FEHB plans. Further confusing things, there are some plans within FEHB labeled “Medicare Advantage.” Are these plans too good to be true or the answer to your Medicare dilemma? Thanks to our friends at NARFE, you can view this recording where Tammy Flanagan explains all you need to know about these plans.

Some Managers To See Increase in FY22 Bonuses

For FY22, the IRS and NTEU bargained to fund discretionary awards from non-performance award pool funds. This means that the bonus pool for managers will be slight larger this year than it has been in recent years. For FY23, the pool will revert to the former composition where a portion of those dollars are designated for discretionary awards.

Congress Punts Debt Limit to December

On Tuesday, the Congress passed legislation to raise the debt ceiling by $480 billion which allows the government to continue to meet its obligations through approximately December 3, 2021. President Biden signed the bill into law on Thursday, averting a default on the nation's debt. The continuing resolution is also set to expire on that date so lawmakers are back to the same place they were in August - needing to pass a budget, budget reconciliation, infrastructure, and the debt ceiling. We are working with our partners on both sides of the aisle to encourage compromise and to share how congressional inaction negatively impacts the Civil Service. We will keep you updated as our conversations continue.

Free & Low-Cost Professional Development Opportunities

Understanding Bias to Unleash Potential. Did you know that employees who perceive themselves to be the target of bias are three times more likely to be disengaged, withhold ideas, and leave their job within a year? To create thriving cultures, leaders need to face bias with courage and create spaces where everyone is respected, included, valued, and truly able to contribute their best. When leaders and team members address bias, performance increases and decision-making improves. View this complimentary one-hour presentation from FranklinCovey to learn more about the impact of bias on behaviors, decisions and performance; a tightly integrated model for making progress on bias in your organization; the three bias traps that our brains are constantly facing; and how to shift from a compliance-based approach to diversity training to a more practical, action-oriented approach grounded in behaviors. Free and open to all.

Join PMA's General Counsel, Shaw Bransford & Roth, for a presentation on the groundbreaking decision in Santos v. NASA on November 3rd at 1PM Eastern. On March 11, 2021, in a landmark opinion, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, contrary to decades of MSPB rulings, the plain language of a statutory provision of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 required the agency to establish that an employee had unsatisfactory performance both before and during the PIP. Federal managers never before have had to justify a PIP and this presentation will help you understand the practical use and implications of this case for the workforce. Open to all. Tickets are $38, learn more.

Save the date: November 17th at 3PM Eastern. Join PMA's partner FEDS Protection for an overview of the professional liability risks facing IRS managers, how recent case law and mandates can leave career managers exposed to lawsuits, and how you can protect yourself. Open to all and PMA members receive discounts on FEDS products. More information to come.

Join MARCH Mediation on December 3rd at 11AM Eastern to learn more about "The Impact of Forgiveness on Your Mental Health." Dawn Kuhlman will share the results of her research into the nexus of self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others and the implications of the findings on both intra- and interpersonal relationships. She will also discuss the forgiveness process and how to move forward, explore the impact of not forgiving, and differentiate the internal processes of self-forgiveness from forgiveness of others. Free and open to all. Registration and Zoom account required.

Department of Education Overhauls PSLF to Forgive $4.5 Billion

The Department of Education announced an overhaul to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program through which over half a million borrowers would receive $4.5 billion in loan relief. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is intended to forgive the outstanding federal student loan debt for public servants who make 10 years of monthly payments.

These changes include many temporary waivers. For instance, all prior payments will count toward loan forgiveness, regardless of loan program or payment plan. Additionally, payments made under the Federal Family Loan Program (FFELP) and Federal Perkins Loan Program will count toward loan forgiveness, if the borrower consolidates the loans into a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan. Many other kinds of payments will count towards loan repayment including payments made in any repayment plan, late payments, and partial payments. To qualify for these changes, the borrower must file a PSLF form by October 31, 2022.

Education also announced several other changes to the loan forgiveness program. For example, deferments and forbearances will count toward forgiveness for members of the U.S. Armed Forces who paused payments while serving on active duty. Also, a formal appeals process will be created for borrowers who wish to appeal their forgiveness decision. Applications that were denied, will be reevaluated to be sure no errors were made in the initial review.

Support PMA's Official Charity Through the CFC

Did you know that the 60th Combined Federal Campaign is underway? Beginning on September 1st and running through January 15, 2022, the CFC is the world's largest and most successful workplace charitable giving program. Please consider supporting PMA's official charity, the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA).

FEEA is the only charity dedicated to supporting Federal workers through financial hardships, emergencies, disasters, and more. FEEA also provides generous scholarships to the Federal workforce and their families. FEEA supports PMA by administering our very own scholarship program. During the pandemic, FEEA has given additional assistance to families in need of K-12 tutoring and bereavement support and resources to families directly impacted by COVID-19.

Learn more about FEEA. FEEA is CFC #11185. You can sign up to give online. You can hear more about CFC from Vice President Harris and OPM Director Ahuja.

Weekly updates