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Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

Eye of the Storm

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Not enough vacation days?

The Office of Personnel Management has a solution: head to Florida.

OPM is reminding federal agencies of human resources policies they may use in the case of severe weather emergencies and natural disasters, like the one Florida felt July 10 as Hurricane Dennis made landfall.

"Federal employees are always generous and responsive in relief and recovery efforts during emergency situations," said OPM Director Linda Springer. "Agency heads should consider all the human resources flexibilities available to them during such difficult periods."

Employees who are called upon to assist in special relief and recovery efforts in affected communities are now eligible for excused absences. That can include employees with special training like emergency medical technicians or those who simply volunteer to pass out water or fill out forms.

Instead of biweekly premium pay limits, federal agencies now can apply the annual premium pay limits to employees logging overtime during times of disaster. So volunteers working around-the-clock in preparation for a hurricane hit, for example, will receive premium pay and won't max out as quickly.

Seeing Green

Thrift Savings Plan administrators said the 401(k)-style federal retirement savings plan got a bit of a boon recently when they received a single contribution check for $2 million this year.

The check was a result of TSP's rollover program, which allows participants to deposit contributions from previous employers' 401(k) plans and from individual retirement accounts into the TSP when they join the plan.

Since the program began in July 2001, about $955 million has been rolled over into the TSP, according to Penny Moran, director of benefits services. Moran said there are approximately 1,800 rollovers a month and the average dollar amount is $17,600.

Despite the program's popularity, however, Moran said there have been "a number of challenges" to participants wanting to transfer their money into a TSP account.

If you want to move money from another plan into your TSP, here's what you need to know:

  • Participants can get their IRA or 401(k) plans to make a distribution directly to them, after withholding the applicable federal income tax. Participants must deposit all or part of that distribution into the TSP within 60 days. The portion that is not deposited may be hit with additional tax penalties if the participant is younger than 59 1/2. (See IRS Publication 575 for tax rules on retirement fund rollovers.)
  • Or, the financial institution that administers your plan can transfer the funds directly into your TSP account. No taxes are withdrawn using this method.

The check should be made payable to the Thrift Savings Plan. Checks must include participants' name and Social Security number either on the check, or with it, even if it's the financial institution writing the check.

Participants must fill out Form TSP-60. This form includes a section that must be completed by the administrator of the plan the participant is transferring funds from, whether it's a transfer or rollover.

The check and completed form should be sent to:

TSP Service Office
National Finance Center
P.O. Box 61074
New Orleans, LA 70161-1074
 
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