October 2019 Update on Federal Benefits

Pinnacle Personnel Services LLC  |  Debbie Hatch

Apple picking with 3 of my g babies, in Maine


It is the 30th of October.  If I’m writing a newsletter this month, it’s time to get it done!  I’ve been traveling back-to-back-to-back-to-back.  You get the idea.  I was home for the weekend after three weeks on the road.  Prior to that, I was home for 36 hours following three weeks on the road.  Taught law enforcement and firefighters today in Manteo, NC.  It was sunny at 72 degrees.  After tomorrow’s class, I’m supposed to be flying to Denver (Reclamation) where it’s a balmy 14 degrees and snowing.  Such it the life of a road warrior in the winter. 

Anyway, what’s going on?





Many of you have contacted me and said you would like to help beta test the online class.  Thank you so much!!  To be honest, I’m not thrilled with the current videos I have.  They were shot four years ago.  A lot has changed in that time, and I am a much better instructor today.  That means I’ve decided to reshoot everything. Unfortunately, with my crazy schedule, and that of my videographer, I won’t be able to film until the first week of December.  Erin should have the videos back to me within a couple of weeks.  That means we’re looking at early 2020 for the virtual class to be available.  I will definitely keep you posted.

In the meantime, here’s a terrific opportunity if you’re in the Kansas City area or know anyone who is.

I am going to be holding my full day retirement class 8 – 4 in Kansas City (we’re working to confirm the venue right now) on 5 December.  I normally charge $85 -$ 95 per person for this class.  It will be the very same, high-quality training I always provide but at NO COST. 100% free.  I prefer the vibe of the classroom vice just standing in front of the camera so I’d like to film with other people in the room.

On 6 December from 8 – 12, I will be hosting a Planning for Retirement through TSP class.  It will be also free.  ONLY Federal employees will be allowed to attend – no financial planners or outside vendors.

As I’ll be paying out of pocket for my travel, the venue and books, seating is limited.
I’m allowing 20 in TSP and 35 in the retirement session.


The annual federal insurance open seasons will run from 11 November through 9 December.  During this time, you may may changes to your Federal Employees Health Benefits, Flexible Spending Accounts, Federal Dental and/or Vision Insurance.  You may not make changes to your Long Term Care Insurance nor Federal Life Insurance during open season. 





If you haven’t heard, health insurance premiums are increasing by an average of 4% in January.  The biweekly weighted average for Self-Only will be $327.46; Self Plus One averages $700.17 and Self Plus Family $758.98.  The government will continue to pay 72% of the weighted average of all plans, not to exceed 75% of any particular plan.  The 2020 biweekly maximum government contribution for non-Postal employees will be $235.77 for Self Only, $504.12 for Self Plus One, and $546.47 for Self and Family.

If you’re contemplating a new plan, you can compare them here.

Remember that you must be enrolled in FEHB five years prior to retirement if you plan to carry the benefit into retirement with you.


Dental plans are increasing an average of 5.6% this coming year.  Vision plans are increasing an average of 1.5%.
You can confirm eligibility here:

That is also where you will go to enroll during open season.  If you are already enrolled but would like to make changes, you’ll need to log into your Benefeds account to make those changes.

There is no requirement to be enrolled in dental or vision five years prior to retirement.


There’s been talk about FSA limits increasing $50 for 2020 but I haven’t seen anything official yet.  If this ends up being true, you will be able to contribute up to $2,750 for the Health Care or Limited Expense Health Care FSAs.  You can contribute up to $5,000 for Dependent Care if you are married and filing a joint return, or if you are a single parent. If you are married and filing separately, you may contribute up to $2,500 per year per parent.

To register for fsafeds.com, go here

FSAs do not go into retirement. You need to spend any money in your FSA prior to your retirement date or you will forfeit the money.


You can contribute to an HSA only if you’re enrolled in a high-deductible health plan. For 2020, that means a plan with a minimum annual deductible of $1,400 for individual coverage or $2,800 for family coverage.  IF you have a high-deductible plan and you want to contribute to an HAS, you will be allowed to contribute $3,550 for individual coverage, or $7,100 for family coverage.  If you’re 55 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000 (if your spouse is 55 or older, and additional $1,000 for that person too if you have family coverage).


While Long Term Care Partners is not planning an open season, FLTCIP 3.0 was just released on 21 October.  You do not need to wait for an open season, you may apply at any time

3.0 is ONLY for new enrollees.  If you are already enrolled in the long term care insurance, you remain under the plan you have.  For new enrollees, here’s what’s different. 

  • No more unlimited plan. Now you choose 2 years, 3 years, or 5 years only. 
  • No more 4% or 5% inflation options. Now your options are 0 or 3%. 
  • If you do not sign up for the 3% inflation, Long Term Care Partners will offer it to you every two years.
    After you decline 3 times, they will not offer it again.  If you want to add the inflation in the future, you
    would have to go through underwriting at that time. 
  • International care is now reimbursable at the same rate (no more lifetime cap – it used to be 10 years).
  • The insurance now has a death benefit so there is a beneficiary requirement.
  • The biggest change is the addition of a Premium Stabilization Feature (PSF). PSF is an adjustable 
    dollar amount that is calculated as a percentage of FLTCIP premiums paid.  It can never be less than
    10% and can never more than 100%.  Here’s a video explaining the PSF.



That’s enough for now.  Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have questions about any of your federal benefits.  I’m busy – it may take me a day or two to get back to you but I am here.  Take care of yourself!!




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