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

TSP 1099s Are In the Mail, Vets Sick Leave Bill Advances, Abortion Restrictions and More

It’s that fun time of year. No, we’re not talking about the Super Bowl. It’s time to start assembling all your tax documents. If you received a withdrawal from your Thrift Savings Plan account or a taxable loan in 2014, your IRS Form 1099-R will be arriving soon in your mailbox. If you don’t receive it by mid-February, you can print out a copy at TSP’s My Account website.

In more uplifting news, disabled veterans newly hired by federal agencies are a bit closer to receiving paid sick leave to attend medical appointments. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed H.R. 313, the 2015 Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act this week, sending it to the full House for a vote. Also this week, Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., introduced similar legislation, S. 242, in the Senate.   

While new federal employees begin their careers with no sick leave balance—they accrue it over time—the bill would give veterans with a 30 percent disability rating or greater 13 days of sick leave to use for medical treatment related to their injuries.

The National Treasury Employees Union strongly supports the legislation. “The ...

Paid Family Leave, Double Incentive Pay for a Stressful Job and More

The president’s annual State of the Union speech often addresses the role of government, broadly, and may even give a shout out to particular federal workers. But it rarely delves into specific federal pay and benefits issues, and this year was no exception. Obama did, however, make reference Tuesday night to one hot button proposal that would affect the federal workforce: paid family leave.

“Today, we're the only advanced country on Earth that doesn't guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers,” Obama said.

He did not specifically mention civil servants, but they are among the workers who lack paid maternity leave. Last week Obama ordered agencies to change that, by advancing employees six weeks of paid sick time to care for newborn babies or ill family members. He asked lawmakers to pass a bill granting another six weeks of paid leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.

Of course, it’s unclear if Congress will cooperate. Past proposals to give feds paid parental leave haven’t gotten very far. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., has been offering bills along those lines since 2000; the House has passed the measure ...

Help for Vets, TRICARE Update, Pay Raise Prospects and More

Once again, helping veterans appears to be high on Congress’ priority list this year. (These things were tried in 2014 without success—perhaps second time around is the charm.)

On Wednesday, a bi-partisan group of House lawmakers reintroduced H.R. 313, the 2015 Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act, which would give federal employees who also are disabled veterans 104 hours of leave for medical treatment during their first year on the job.

“It is unacceptable that our Wounded Warrior federal employees who are just starting out in the federal workforce are often faced with the difficult choice of having to take unpaid leave to attend their VA appointments or miss their medical visits,” said Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass., one of the sponsors.  

New feds begin their government careers with a zero sick leave balance, which makes it difficult for disabled veterans to keep medical appointments. The benefit would apply to those with a disability rating of 30 percent or greater. Senators John Tester, D-Mont., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., plan to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.

Earlier in the week, the House again passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, named in honor of the ...

Mileage Reimbursement Hike, Retirement Savings Resolutions and More

With Republicans now in control of both chambers of Congress, federal pay and benefits will be much more vulnerable to attack. Cost-cutting proposals that previously died in the Senate will have a better chance of making it to President Obama’s desk, as one federal union leader pointed out after the election in November. Those proposals have already started pouring in, from across-the-board budget cuts to freezing congressional pay.

But putting aside that risk, 2015 is off to a solid start. Federal retirees received a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment, and civilian employees are enjoying a 1 percent pay raise for the second year in a row, following a three-year pay freeze. Those who use their cars for work will get a bump in their mileage reimbursement rate as well. The General Services Administration last week increased the rate 2.7 percent to 57.5 cents per mile, The Washington Post reported. The increase comes despite dropping gas prices, the Post noted.

Most troops (aside from general and flag officers) rang in the New Year with a 1 percent salary boost, in addition to increases in basic housing and basic subsistence allowances. Indeed, more than half (51 percent) of middle ...

Disengaged Employees, Lackluster Pay and More

It looks like 2014 will end with a whimper instead of a bang for federal employees, and that’s good news, considering what the bang might have been. Despite some 11th-hour brinksmanship, lawmakers approved and President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending plan for 2015. That means you can stop worrying about potential furloughs or a government shutdown before next fall, unless you work for Homeland Security, in which case you still have a reprieve until late February.  

The law allows for a 1 percent pay raise for federal employees and military personnel. While that’s probably not going to make anyone break out the champagne, it’s certainly better than the three-year pay freeze feds experienced prior to the 1 percent raise they got in 2014.     

The only folks who won’t see a pay increase are top political appointees and Vice President Biden. Lawmakers also froze their own salaries, so there’s some consolation in the fact that they didn’t reward themselves for an historically unproductive year.

Employee travel and conference spending also took a hit, but the biggest constraints fall on Homeland Security, a casualty of Republican furor over Obama’s executive action ...