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2016 Pay Raises, Self-Plus-One, Military Retirement Changes and More

A roundup of the latest federal pay and benefits news.

Want to know exactly how much you will be earning in 2016? The federal pay tables are out.

It’s all here, from the Senior Executive Service to the General Schedule to the pay information for law enforcement and Foreign Service officers. (President Obama on Dec. 18 released the official executive order on the 2016 pay raise for federal workers and service members.)

For members of the SES under a certified SES performance appraisal system, the maximum annual salary will increase to $185,100 in 2016, up from the current level of $183,300. Senior executives at the maximum SES pay rate who are not under a certified SES performance appraisal system will see their annual salary grow to $170,400 from the 2015 level of $168,700.

At the lowest end of the SES pay spectrum, the salary will increase from $121,956 (with or without a performance appraisal system) to $123,175 in 2016 (with or without a performance appraisal system).

Senior executives do not receive locality pay like GS employees, but are eligible for performance-based awards.

Hourly workers on the wage grade schedule also are getting pay raises, thanks to Congress. In the recently signed omnibus spending deal, lawmakers specifically included language allowing blue-collar feds to receive the same percentage pay bump as their white-collar colleagues. The law caps the raise at the increase received by General Schedule employees.

On the health care front, federal employees interested in switching to the new self-plus-one option in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will have another opportunity to do so early next year.

The Office of Personnel Management will hold a “limited enrollment period” from Feb. 1 through Feb. 29 for those employees who missed Open Season this past fall and want to opt into self-plus-one. The February enrollment period is only for self-plus-one changes, and is not an extension of Open Season, which ended in mid-December, OPM said.

The self-plus-one coverage option, included in the 2013 budget deal, gives feds with one eligible family member, such as a spouse or a dependent up to age 26, a new FEHBP enrollment choice.  OPM processed more than 600,000 FEHBP enrollment transactions during Open Season this year – a record high, according to the agency. OPM attributed the increase to the debut of self-plus-one, available beginning in 2016.

The Army has taken more action to better accommodate soldiers who are nursing mothers, according to news reports on a November memo from acting Secretary Eric Fanning requiring a private space other than a restroom for breastfeeding needs. The guidance says the place must “include a place to sit, a flat surface (other than the floor) to place the pump on, an electrical outlet, and access to a safe water source within reasonable distance from the lactation space.”

The revised policy is more specific than September guidance on the matter, which allowed the service to provide restrooms as a lactation space rather than a private area. Mothers and other breastfeeding advocates criticized that directive as being too vague and not sufficiently supportive.

In other Defense news, the agency that administers the Thrift Savings Plan is gearing up to work with the Defense Department to implement the auto-enrollment of new troops into the TSP beginning in January 2018. The new blended retirement system will automatically enroll new troops into the TSP at 3 percent of their pay with a 1 percent government deposit into the appropriate L (lifecycle) fund – similar to how it works for federal civilian employees. After two years of service, the government would be able to match up to 5 percent of any extra contributions service members make. The main purpose of the retirement reform is to allow non-career military members to boost their retirement nest eggs.

Check out this recent Government Matters segment on WJLA with yours truly highlighting the changes and what they mean for service members.

(Image via  / Shutterstock.com)

NEXT STORY: 2016 Federal Pay Tables Are Out

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