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COVER STORY

Prefunding predicament Why USPS Pays Up Front For Retiree Health Care

P.22

ENT M Y A P ANNUAL

S

P.30

rocky road to disability retirement

P.40

get ready for Grass-roots advocacy month

Volume 90 • Number 7


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WashingTon Watch

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Tax Exemption for Feds in Combat Zones Introduced

7

Senate Holds Hearing on Employee Morale

7

House Passes Rehire Legislation

8

Four Factors That Make NARFE Advocacy Work

8

Arizona NARFE Scores Legislative Win

9

Ways to be Involved in ‘Advocacy Month’

10 NARFE Bill Tracker

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Columns Cover Story Prefunding Predicament. The U.S. Postal Service, alone among federal agencies, must prefund retiree health benefits. We trace the origins of this requirement.

4 From the President 38 Managing Money 40 The Informed Citizen DEPARTMENTS

30

14 Questions & Answers 42 For the Record: TSP Rocky Road to Disability Retirement. For many feds, disability retirement is their only option. But the path to a successful claim can be bumpy.

Investments, COLA Chart

44 NARFE News 56 The Way We Worked special section

On the Web

46 National Convention

visit us online at:

Update

www.narfe.org like us on facebook:

NARFE National Headquarters follow us on twitter:

@narfehq

ON THE COVER

Illustration by Bill Pragluski, Critical Stages, LLC

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july 2014 | Volume 90 | Number 07

Editor Margaret M. Carter Assistant Editor Ken Fanelli Editorial Administrator Toni Vallario Graphic Design Charlene Gridley Editorial Board Joseph A. Beaudoin, Paul H. Carew Elaine C. Hughes, Richard G. Thissen Editorial Office: narfe magazine 606 North Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314-1914 Phone: 703-838-7760 Fax: 703-838-7781 Email: communications@narfe.org Advertising Sales: Warren Berger Media People Inc. 122 East 42nd St., Suite 725 New York, NY 10168 Phone: 212-779-7172, ext. 223 Email: wberger@mediapeople.com NARFE for the Visually Impaired On the Telephone: This publication can be heard on the telephone by persons who have trouble seeing or reading the print edition. For more information, contact the National Federation of the Blind NFB-NEWSLINE® service at 866-5047300 or go to www.nfbnewsline.org. On digital audio: Issues of narfe magazine are also available in audio format through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). For availability, call 202-727-2142 or your local NLS service provider. The Association, since July 1970, has been classified by the IRS as a tax-exempt labor organization [not a union]; however, dues and gifts or contributions to the Association are not deductible as charitable contributions for income tax purposes.

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association NATIONAL OFFICERS JOSEPH A. BEAUDOIN, President; natpres@narfe.org PAUL H. CAREW, Vice President; natvp@narfe.org ELAINE C. HUGHES, Secretary; natsec@narfe.org RICHARD G. THISSEN, Treasurer; nattreas@narfe.org

REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENTS

REGION I Arthur Pike (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) Tel: 207-764-4468 Email: artpike1937@aol.com REGION II Evelyn Kirby (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) Tel: 410-604-1141 Email: ekirby@atlanticbb.net REGION III Donald Stewart (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Virgin Islands) Tel: 305-442-6388 Email: dejs33149@aol.com REGION IV Paul E. Johnson (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin) Tel: 812-306-5137 Email: pejohnson@tds.net REGION V Carol R. Ek (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota) Tel: 620-241-1131 Email: ek617@att.net

Here’s How to Contact Us… If you want to:

Join NARFE Call (toll-free): 800-627-3394 or go to: www.narfe.org Change your address, phone number or email Call (toll-free): 800-456-8410 Email: memberrecords@narfe.org

REGION VI Jerome S. Smith (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Republic of Panama and Texas) Tel: 903-534-5849 Email: retiredjer@aol.com REGION VII Frank Impinna (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) Tel: 303-482-1747 Email: impinna@gmail.com REGION VIII Helen L. Zajac (California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada and Republic of Philippines) Tel: 707-644-7565 Email: hlz17@aol.com REGION IX Lanny G. Ross (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington) Tel: 360-692-9741 Email: lannyjean@comcast.net REGION X William F. Martin (Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia) Tel: 540-872-3345 Email: billmartin@narferx.org

For any other NARFE matter:

Call NARFE Headquarters: 703-838-7760 Email: hq@narfe.org Fax: 703-838-7785 Write: NARFE 606 N. Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314

www.narfe.org

narfe (ISSN 1948-4453) is published monthly by the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314. Periodicals postage paid at Alexandria, VA, and additional mailing offices. Members: Annual dues includes subscription. Nonmember subscription rate $45. Postmaster: Send address change to: NARFE Attn: Member Records, 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314. To ensure prompt delivery, members should also forward changes of address without delay. Because of the volume involved, NARFE cannot acknowledge nor be responsible for unsolicited pictures and manuscripts, although every reasonable precaution is taken. All submissions become the property of NARFE. Copyright © 2014, NARFE. Advertisements in the magazine are not endorsements of products and/or services by NARFE, unless officially stated in the ad. We shall accept advertising on the same basis as other reputable publications: that is, we shall not knowingly permit a dishonest advertisement to appear in narfe, but at the same time we will not undertake to guarantee the reliability of our advertisers.

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From the President

You are NARFE’s Grass roots

T

here is no better time than Congress’s summer recesses for NARFE members to talk face-to-

face with their representatives on Capitol Hill. This is particularly true this summer, before November’s critical midterm elections.

Now is when candidates for the House and Senate are on their home turf to drum up endorsements and dollars, and are the most receptive to what NARFE members have to say. Among associations and national advocacy groups, NARFE is considered a leader in effective grass-roots lobbying. This work constitutes the core of our mission and truly represents democracy in action. NARFE empowers its members by giving them the necessary information and tools to be knowledgeable, engaged participants

in meetings with legislators, candidates or their aides. With NARFE’s Bill Tracker, which runs each month in this magazine, the online NARFE Legislative Action Center (www.narfe.org.) and the Protect America’s Heartbeat Toolkits (www. protectamericasheartbeat.org), you can familiarize yourself with the issues, legislation and individual voting records before meetings with incumbents or their challengers. Legislators and candidates need to become familiar with you as well. Display pride in your Association by wearing your NARFE hats, T-shirts, buttons and pins to these meetings. Hopefully, when they see the NARFE logo they’ll associate it with the issues we care about and the fact that this constituency is serious and knows its stuff! Getting a good turnout for these meetings is important. If you are a NARFE member who is an active federal employee or a recent retiree, consider driving older members who live nearby to get-togethers with lawmakers or meet-thecandidate forums. The wisdom and stories these NARFE veterans can share en route will make your effort well worthwhile. Finally, tell NARFE Headquarters about your meetings. This information is important to us in our ongoing communication with members of Congress. Thank you for all that you do!

Joseph A. Beaudoin NARFE national President natpres@narfe.org

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Washington Watch

Tax Exemption for Feds in Combat zones introduced in House

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bill that would provide a tax exemption for federal employees serving in combat zones has been introduced in the House. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-VA, introduced the

Federal Employee Combat Zone Tax Parity Act, H.R. 4621, on May 8. Wittman was joined by cosponsors Reps. Frank R. Wolf, R-VA, and Gerald E. Connolly, D-VA. H.R. 4621 would extend the tax credit available to military personnel who serve in combat zones to the civilian federal employees working alongside them. Currently, only members of the military qualify for federal income tax exemptions on their base pay as a result of serving in combat zones. In addition, U.S. citizens, including federal contractors, working and living overseas can qualify for a foreign earned income tax exclusion of more than $97,000 annually that is not available to federal employees. While nonfederal employee citizens must pay foreign taxes, and federal employees do not, they receive a foreign tax credit against U.S. taxes for those payments. The foreign earned income tax 6

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exclusion is provided in addition to that, but it is not available to federal employees serving abroad, even in a combat zone. NARFE President Joseph A. Beaudoin praised the legislation. “Many of our dedicated civil servants answer a ‘call to duty’ that takes them away from their families and exposes them to imminent danger to life and limb,” Beaudoin said. “They may not wear uniforms, but they often stand shoulder to shoulder amidst hostile fire with those who do.” The tax credit would compensate for the hardship federal employees and their families face from the separation and stress that accompany service in a combat zone. It also would provide a valuable incentive for civil ser-

In the left photo, Tony M. Hall, a Department of the Army civilian, receives the Defense of Freedom medal after being wounded in Iraq. In the right photo, Lynn Badie, a Department of the Army civilian, distributes absentee ballot materials in Kuwait.

vants to apply for overseas duty. U.S. missions require individuals with expertise often not found in the military to fill critical positions in such areas as transportation reconstruction projects and health care. Federal agencies often have difficulty staffing these posts. Providing an additional financial incentive to serve in combat zones should help alleviate that shortage. The act would not exempt income above the highest level eligible for exemption by military members. This year, the maximum monthly combat exclusion for enlisted personnel is $7,816.20. Thus, this legislation is specifically targeted to help those in lower pay grades. The bill was last introduced in 2007, during the 110th Congress, by Rep. Wolf and Sen. John Warner, R-VA. Although it received bipartisan support, it was not enacted. In an attempt to resurrect the effort, NARFE sought reintroduction this year. The Association is pleased that Wittman has stepped


SENATE HOLDS HEARING ON EMPLOYEE MORALE up to take the reins from the soonto-be retiring Wolf, along with the strong support of Connolly. NARFE will continue to work with Wittman and other willing members of Congress to move the bill forward. —By John Hatton, Deputy Legislative Director

House passes rehire bill A measure that would extend, for another five years, the authority of federal agency heads to rehire federal annuitants on a limited and part-time basis without salary offset has been passed by the House. The extension was added May 21 as an amendment to H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, which passed the House May 22. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-VA, offered the amendment. NARFE is working to include the same amendment in the Senate version of the bill. “Prior to enactment of this authority in 2009, an agency rehiring an annuitant had to request a waiver from the Office of Personnel Management to ensure the employee’s pay was not offset by his or her annuity,” said NARFE President Joseph A. Beaudoin. The waivers often were reserved for emergency or unusual circumstances, he said.

C

uts to the federal budget, employee furloughs and congressional attacks are to blame for a decrease in federal employee morale, witnesses told a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Overall federal employee job satisfaction scores fell for the second year in a row, slipping below 60 percent, according to the 2013 Federal Employees Viewpoint Survey conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The main reason for the decline was a sharp drop in employees’ satisfaction with their pay, which is not surprising given the three-year freeze on federal employee pay. In addition, fewer than half of the respondents said they believe they have sufficient resources – including material, staff and funding – to do their jobs effectively. The Senate hearing, held on May 6 during Public Service Recognition Week, was led by Sen. Jon Tester, D-MT, chairman of the Subcommittee on Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce. Representatives from government agencies, including OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, testified. NARFE President Joseph A. Beaudoin thanked Tester for holding the hearing and acknowledged the factors that have led to the morale problem among federal employees. “Over the last four years, they have endured a three-year pay freeze, furloughs due to sequestration, a government shutdown and in-

creased retirement contributions for new employees,” Beaudoin said. “These policies have cost federal employees more than $120 billion. It is no surprise that federal employee morale has been declining as a result. The gradual but steady deterioration inevitably will diminish the effectiveness of our workforce. We must not let that happen.” With the hearing drawing attention to the issue, NARFE hopes Congress will realize that it must stop targeting federal employees and treat them fairly if the federal government is to recruit and retain the best and brightest employees. —By Jason Freeman, legislative staff assistant

Legislative Resources • Legislative Hotline: A weekly update of legislative news, compiled by the NARFE Legislative Department staff, distributed via email and available by phone (toll-free) at 877-217-8234 and online at www.narfe.org. • Legislative Action Center: A one-stop site to send a letter to Congress, and more, at www.narfe.org.

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Washington Watch

four factors that Make NARFE advocacy work Editor’s note: To provide examples of “best practices,” the NARFE Legislative Department asked some of its grass-roots leaders to write about their advocacy activities. This month, we highlight the work of Don Binder, Tri-Cities Chapter 1192 president, Washington Federation NARFE-PAC coordinator and Region IX NARFE-PAC coordinator, who has developed an excellent relationship with Rep. Denny Heck, D-WA, through his roles in NARFE leadership.

K

nowledge of NARFE’s legislative agenda and NARFE-PAC procedures, accessibility, follow-through and flexibility are four key factors that I believe are necessary when working with a member of Congress or his or her staff. While such “top-down” communication may not be the norm, in 2010 now-Rep. Denny Heck, D-WA, personally contacted me as the state’s NARFE-PAC chairman. He was running for an open congressional seat. We spoke several times, and he received NARFEPAC funds. Despite losing that election, he called me the next day to thank NARFE for its support and promised to stay in touch. Fast forward two years. Denny Heck was back in touch. He said he intended to run for Congress in Washington’s new 10th congressional district. I explained there could be no NARFE-PAC funds until the new congressional district maps and his candidacy were official. Once both were official, he invited me and about 20 others to a campaign event that featured House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-MD. That was my first face-to-face meeting with Mr. Heck. In fact, we had one-on-one time afterward to further discuss NARFE, its legislative agenda and NARFE-PAC procedures.

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We have spoken numerous times since his 2012 win and met in his House office during the 2013 NARFE Legislative Conference. His chief of staff also calls. To date, Congressman Heck has a 100 percent NARFE voting record. But, what do you do when you don’t get that personal call or meeting with the candidate or legislator? Think local. Develop and nurture relationships with the official’s local staff, district director, etc. Can this work? Yes! I used this approach with Rep. “Doc” Hastings, R-WA, and his staff. Results? Meetings with Rep. Hastings both in his district and Washington, DC, offices. Am I the only reason for this? No, it is a team effort; but at the grass-roots level, I firmly believe conveying NARFE’s issues and explaining NARFE-PAC procedures, being accessible and following through with timely, accurate, NARFE-focused nonpartisan

MYTH vs. REALITY Myth: In the end, federal employees furloughed in 2013 did not face any financial hardships as they all received back pay. Reality: Federal employees furloughed as a result of sequestration budget cuts did not receive any back pay. Government data show that roughly three-quarters of a million federal employees were affected, resulting in more than $1 billion in lost salary. Those who were furloughed as a result of the 16-day government shutdown in October 2013 eventually did receive back pay. Still, during the shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal employees did not receive their full paychecks, including many employees who were legally required to work during the lapse, causing significant anxiety and uncertainty.

information helps provide our elected officials and their staffs with the tools they need when it’s time to vote on issues that are on NARFE’s legislative agenda. —By Don Binder

arizona narfe scores win WORKING WITH SEVERAL PARTNERS, NARFE recently gained a major victory for Arizona taxpayers, especially those on fixed incomes. A new law will index the state’s income tax rates each year according to the inflation rate in the Phoenix area. “We have an active legislative program at the state level,” says Rodney Adelman, Arizona Federation president. NARFE has ramped up its partnership with public-sector and aging groups, he says.


Variety of ways to be involved in ‘grass-roots advocacy month’

N

ARFE’s advocacy efforts time in their districts at commuare successful in large part nity events in August and October. because of the relationWhile face-to-face meetings ships NARFE members have with candidates and incumbents with members of Congress and are the best way to spread the their staffs at the local level. Use NARFE message, here are other, “NARFE Grass-Roots Advocacy less formal ways to get involved: Month” in August to strengthen • Attend a town hall meeting and ask a question about these relationships and establish a NARFE issue, such as the new ones. Chained CPI. You can access town Because Congress is in recess hall schedules at www.narfe. for the month of August through org (under “NARFE LegislaLabor Day and it’s an election tive Activists” on the Legislation year, members of Congress and Home Page) or by contacting your congressional candidates are offices. expected to spend a greatCoupon deal of 4/1/14legislators’ 2013-14_PAC_Coupon_2013 9:47 AM Page 1

• Attend community events and parades, wear NARFE gear and share a short message of support for federal employees and retirees. Offer to follow up with more information. These informal discussions amplify NARFE’s message and show that the community cares about NARFE’s issues. For more ideas, see the “Legislative Activities at the Individual Level Toolkit,” www.protect americasheartbeat.org. The NARFE Legislative staff is happy to help with your advocacy plans. —By Jason Freeman, Legislative Staff Assistant

NARFE-PAC CONTRIBUTION FORM Name: _____________________________________ NARFE Member Number: ______________________ I would like to make a one-time contribution of: q $100 Gold (qualifies for Gold 2013-14 NARFE-PAC lapel pin and a blue NARFE-PAC LEADER hat)

q $50 Silver (qualifies for Silver 2013-2014 NARFE-PAC lapel pin) q $20 Basic (qualifies for Basic 2013-2014 NARFE-PAC lapel pin) q Other: ______ -orI would like to be a Sustainer and make a monthly credit card contribution to NARFE-PAC of: q $25/month q $10/month

q Please find my check or money order enclosed payable to NARFE-PAC q Please charge to my credit card (required for monthly contribution) Credit Card Information Type: q MasterCard q VISA q Discover q AMEX Card #: ________________________________ Expiration Date: ____ / ____ Name on Card:__________________________ Signature: ______________________________ Date: __________________________________

q Other: ______/month (minimum of $10) Monthly contributions qualify you to receive a NARFE-PAC Sustainer lapel pin along with a blue NARFE-PAC LEADER hat.

q I do not want to receive any gifts for my contribution marked above.

Mail to: National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association Attn: NARFE-PAC 606 North Washington St. | Alexandria, VA 22314

Only members of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association may contribute to NARFE-PAC. NARFE will neither favor nor disadvantage anyone based on the amount of a contribution or the failure to make a voluntary contribution to this political action fund. NARFE-PAC contributions are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

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Washington Watch

narfe bill tracker The NARFE bill TRACKER is your monthly guide to the congressional legislation that NARFE is following. Check back each issue for updates. ISSUE

Bill Number / Name / Sponsor H.R. 26: Deferred Benefits Adjustment Act of 2013 / Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, D-NY Cosponsors: 1 (D)

DEFERRED ANNUITIES

supporting federal employees

Federal Compensation

Paid Parental Leave

Pension scam protection

H.Res. 388: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives supporting federal employees / Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-OH

What Bill Would Do

Latest Action(s)

Provides for the indexation of deferred annuities, including survivor annuities, and for individuals becoming subject to the Federal Employees Retirement System by election. Terminates the entitlement of a survivor who remarries before age 55 to an annuity based on the service of a deferred annuitant who dies before establishing a valid claim for a Civil Service Retirement System annuity.

Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Recognizes that the work that federal employees perform should be honored and respected. Outlines several ways Congress should not target federal employees.

Referred to House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, and Ways and Means

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narfe, January 2014, p. 10

Cosponsors: 42 (D)

H.R. 4306: FAIR (Federal Provides federal employees with a 3.3 percent pay raise Adjustment of Income Rates) Act / Rep. Gerald in 2015. E. Connolly Cosponsors: 20 (D) H.R. 517: Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2013 / Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-NY Cosponsors: 21 (D)

H.R. 3310: Annuity Safety and Security Under Reasonable Enforcement Act of 2013 / Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-PA Cosponsors: 52 (D)

Allows federal employees to substitute, for four weeks, any available paid leave for any leave without pay available for either the birth of a child or placement of a child for either adoption or foster care.

Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform narfe, June 2014, p. 9

Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Requires appropriate disReferred to four House closures regarding “pension committees advance” schemes and caps the interest rates on these narfe, January 2014, p. 11 advances. Also creates a private right of action to allow individuals to enforce these laws in court.

NARFE’s Position: 10

narfe, April 2013, p. 9

Support

Oppose

No position


 ISSUE

Bill Number / Name / Sponsor H.R. 1367: FEHBP Prescription Drug Integrity, Transparency, and Cost Savings Act / Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-MA Cosponsors: 3 (D)

Health Care

H.R. 1780: To provide that the only health plans that the federal government may make available to the president, vice president, members of Congress and federal employees are those created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or offered through a health insurance exchange / Rep. Dave Camp, R-MI

What Bill Would Do

Latest Action(s)

Provides the Office of Personnel Management greater oversight authority over the prescription drug contracting and pricing methods of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Removes federal employees from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and places them in the health exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act.

Referred to the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, Energy and Commerce, and Administration

narfe, June 2013, p. 9

narfe, July 2013, p. 15

Cosponsors: 30 (R) H.R. 3319: Equal Healthcare Access Act / Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA Cosponsors: 1 (D), 8 (R)

Requires the Office of Personnel Management to administer a health insurance plan for nonfederal employees under the existing Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Referred to House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means narfe, January 2014, p. 9

H.R. 1795: Social Security Fairness Act of 2013 / Rep. Rodney Davis, R-IL GPO/WEP

Cosponsors: 86 (D), 34 (R) S. 896: Social Security Fairness Act of 2013 / Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK

Repeals both the Government Referred to the Pension Offset (GPO) and the House Committee on Windfall Elimination Provision Ways and Means (WEP). Referred to the Senate Finance Committee narfe, July 2013, p. 16

Cosponsors: 14 (D), 3 (R), 1 (I)

combat zone tax parity

FEDERAL PENSIONS

H.R. 4621: Federal Employee Combat Zone Tax Parity Act / Rep. Rob Wittman, R-VA Cosponsors: 1 (D), 1 (R) S. 1678: Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act / Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC Cosponsors: 2 (R)

Extends the tax credit availReferred to the able to military personnel who House Committee on serve in combat zones to civil- Ways and Means ian employees. See story, p. 6 Eliminates the defined-benefit portion of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), leaving only Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan for FERS employees in retirement.

Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs narfe, February 2014, p. 8

(Continued on p. 12) w w w. n a r f e . o r g

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Washington Watch

narfe bill tracker (Continued from p. 11) ISSUE

Bill Number / Name / Sponsor H.R. 630: The Postal Service Protection Act / Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR Cosponsors: 175 (D), 8 (R)

What Bill Would Do Eliminates the future retiree health benefit prefunding requirement, protects six-day mail delivery and prevents the closure of rural post offices.

S. 316: The Postal Service Protection Act / Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT

Cosponsors: 2 (R)

S. 1486: Postal Reform Act / Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-DE Cosponsors: 1 (R)

Thrift Savings Plan

Federal Employee Back Pay

H.R. 4193: Smart Savings Act / Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA Cosponsors: 4 (D), 2 (R)

H.R. 3744: Federal Employee Pay Restoration Act / Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-WA

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Moves the U.S. Postal Service to five-day mail delivery, removes protections for injured workers and eliminates tothe-door delivery in favor of cluster boxes.

Approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on 7/24/13

Threatens integrity of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program by removing postal workers and retirees, cuts workers’ compensation benefits and eliminates Federal Employees Retirement System pension for new hires.

Amended and approved by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on 2/6/14

New federal employees automatically enrolled in the Thrift Savings Plan would have their funds deposited in the L (Lifecycle) Fund instead of the G Fund.

Approved by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee on 3/12/14

Provides back pay to federal employees who were furloughed as a result of sequestration.

Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services

narfe, April 2014, p. 6

narfe, May 2014, p. 8

Cosponsors: 2 (D), 1 (R)

H.R. 4202: CPI-E Act of 2014 / Rep. Mike Honda, D-CA ANNUITY COLA

Referred to House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Cosponsors: 27 (D) H.R. 2748: Postal Reform Act / Rep. Darrell Issa, postal reform R-CA

Latest action(s)

Requires the use of the Referred to three Consumer Price Index for the House committees Elderly (CPI-E) instead of the current CPI-W to determine narfe, May 2014, p. 8 cost-of-living adjustments for federal civilian annuities, military retirement and certain veterans’ benefits.


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Questions & Answers

The following Questions & Answers were compiled by NARFE’s Federal Benefits Service Department staff. NARFE does not provide legal, financial planning, or tax advice or assistance.

employees Stipulations for continuing FEHBP

Q

Will I still be able to continue my health insurance coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) into retirement if I drop it for a year during my last five years before retiring? I’ve been enrolled for a total of 15 years, which should count for something.

A

Probably not. The law is clear on the requirement that you must be enrolled (or covered as a dependent under another’s FEHBP enrollment) continuously for the five years immediately prior to retirement or at every opportunity. That being said, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has the authority to waive the five-year continuous cover requirement in cases where it would be against good conscience and equity to deny the continuation of coverage to an individual. You will need to contact in writing OPM’s Retirement Benefits Branch a month or two before you plan to retire to

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request a waiver and provide OPM the reason why you think you should be granted the waiver.

Roll over interest on contributions to IRA

Q

I am under the Civil Service Retirement System and have been making voluntary contributions to my retirement. I was informed that I can roll over the interest on these funds to an IRA and defer taxation on the interest. Is that true?

A

Yes. Interest on voluntary contributions is subject to a mandatory 20 percent

tax withholding upon withdrawal. However, if the interest on the voluntary contributions account is at least $200, an employee can elect to have the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) roll over all or part of the interest to an IRA or other qualified retirement plan to defer income tax. A direct payment to the employee will not defer the tax, even if the employee deposits it in an eligible IRA after receiving it. To roll over the interest, complete a voluntary contributions election form, RI 38-124, and send it to OPM at the address on the form. Contact your agency personnel office to obtain this form and the explanation form RI 38-125, “Voluntary Contributions Notice.” Because interest accrual generally stops at separation, if you are retiring, you should submit your refund request to OPM at least 60 days before retirement.


Survivor Election for FERS Employees?

Q

Is there a survivor election form that active federal employees under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) need to complete to ensure a spouse receives a monthly benefit as a survivor?

A

No, there is no election form for active employees, under FERS or the older Civil Service Retirement System, to provide a survivor benefit if the employee dies in service. The following information about FERS benefits is on OPM’s website under Retirement. If an employee dies with at least 18 months of creditable civilian service under FERS, a survivor annuity may be payable if: • The surviving spouse was married to the deceased for at least nine months; or • The employee’s death was accidental; or • There was a child born of the marriage to the employee. The spouse may be eligible for the Basic Employee Death Benefit, which is equal to 50 percent of the employee’s final salary (average salary, if higher), plus $30,792.98 for deaths on/after December 1, 2011. If a FERS employee dies, recurring monthly payments may be made to the surviving spouse if the deceased employee completed at least 10 years of creditable service (18 months of which must be civilian service). To qualify for the monthly benefit, the surviving spouse must have been married

to the employee for at least nine months. If the death occurred before nine months, a survivor annuity may still be payable if: • The employee’s death was accidental; or • There was a child born of the marriage. There are monthly benefits payable for eligible children in the event the employee dies in service. Unmarried children who are dependent upon the employee may receive monthly benefits until they reach age 18, marry or die. Monthly survivor annuity payments for a child can continue after age 18 if the child is a full-time student attending a recognized school. Benefits can continue until age 22. Unmarried disabled dependent children may receive recurring monthly benefits if the disability occurred before age 18. However, the combined benefit of all the children is reduced by the total amount of the insurance benefits that are payable (or would, upon proper application, be payable) under Title II of the Social Security Act for the same month to all children of the deceased (including those of a former marriage who may not be living with the current spouse) based on the total earnings of the deceased. In many cases, the FERS children’s benefit is reduced to $0. If no survivor annuity is payable upon the employee/former employee’s death, a lump sum may be payable of the unpaid balance of retirement contributions made by the employee.

medicare and FEHBP

Q

My spouse is an active federal employee, and I’m currently covered under his Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) family plan. Must I still take Medicare Part B as soon as I’m eligible at age 65?

A

No. The general rule is that if you do not take Medicare Part B when you are first eligible and later decide to enroll, your premium will increase by 10 percent for every 12 months that you are not covered and should have been. However, one exception to this rule is if you are covered under your own or a family member’s large group health insurance. Therefore, if you do not take Medicare Part B at age 65 because you are covered under the FEHBP as an active federal employee or spouse of an active federal employee, you may sign up for Part B, generally without the 10 percent late-enrollment penalty, within eight months from the time your spouse stops working or you are no longer covered by the group plan.

retirees SURVIVOR BENEFITS FOR EX-SPOUSE

Q A

I recently got divorced. Is my former wife eligible for a survivor benefit based on my annuity?

A monthly survivor benefit would be payable to your former spouse after your w w w. n a r f e . o r g

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15


Questions & Answers

death if it is awarded by a state court order as part of the property settlement agreement in your final divorce. If the divorce does not award a survivor benefit, you may voluntarily elect a survivor benefit for your former spouse by putting this request in writing to the Office of Personnel Management within two years after your marriage terminates. The following conditions must exist, however, for your former spouse to receive a benefit: • You were married to your former spouse for at least nine months; • You performed at least 18 months of creditable federal civilian service;

• Your former spouse to whom you were married less than 30 years has not remarried before age 55.

SICK LEAVE AND DEFERRED ANNUITIES

Q

I recently retired under a deferred annuity and would like clarification about how my unused sick leave is used in the computation of my deferred benefit.

A

Your accrued and unused sick leave balance at the time of your separation is not creditable for eligibility or computation purposes

in a deferred retirement. Your deferred annuity is based on the length of your federal service and the high-three average salary in effect when you separated from federal employment. In the years between the date of separation and age 62, the average salary is not adjusted by any intervening cost-of-living adjustments.

BENEFITS coordination

Q

I had prior employment with a nongovernment company, and upon retiring from that company I had “vested rights,” including medical coverage with Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield. I also have cover-

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NARFE at Your Service

To obtain an answer to a federal benefits question, NARFE members should call 703-838-7760 and ask for the Federal Benefits Service Department; send your question by postal mail to NARFE Headquarters, ATTN: Federal Benefits; or submit it by email to fedbenefits@narfe.org.

NARFE service officers are available to answer questions and to assist in helping with a variety of benefit matters. Check your chapter newsletter for the name and phone number of your service officer. For the nearest service officer, call NARFE (toll-free) at:

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If you have Medicare and other health coverage, each type of coverage is called a “payer.” When there’s more than one payer, “coordination of benefits” rules decide who pays first, second and, in some cases, third. Generally Medicare is the primary, or first payer, for an annuitant with Medicare and FEHBP coverage. However, whether Medicare pays first depends on a number of things, including the

situation. Be sure to tell your doctor and other health care providers if you have health coverage in addition to Medicare. This will help them send your bills to the correct payer to avoid delays. Paying “first” means paying the bill up to the limits of the payer’s coverage. It doesn’t always mean the primary payer pays first in time.

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age as a retiree under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). If I also have Medicare coverage, who pays first when I incur a medical bill?

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Cover Story

The Postal Service’s

Prefunding

A Creature of Its Own Success By Susan Milligan

Editor’s Note: Over the past few years, postal reform legislation has come up repeatedly in Congress. In the 112th Congress (2011-2012), the Senate passed a bill, and negotiations with the House nearly resulted in an agreement – but time ran out without final action. In the current 113th Congress (2013-2014), the committees with jurisdiction over postal issues in both the House and the Senate have approved comprehensive postal reform bills, but neither chamber has taken up the bills. NARFE opposes the bills drafted by the committees and is particularly concerned with provisions of the Senate bill that would make substantial changes to federal workers’ compensation benefits, postal retiree health benefits and future postal workers’ retirement benefits. Though there has not been consensus on the details of a bill, there is broad agreement within Congress that reform is needed. But why? The simple answer is that the U.S. Postal Service has been incurring significant financial losses. But what exactly is driving those losses is a matter of debate. While declines in first-class mail attributable to the recession and competing electronic technologies are certainly contributing factors, many argue that burdensome requirements imposed by Congress, notably to “prefund” retiree health benefits, are the primary cause of the red ink. Where someone stands in this debate goes a long way toward determining what reforms he or she thinks the Postal Service needs. Given how central the prefunding requirement issue is to the postal reform debate, which could have broader implications for federal and postal employee and retiree benefits, we asked writer Susan Milligan to take a look back at the origins of the prefunding requirement.

Perhaps you’ve heard the rhetoric about the U.S. Postal Service. It’s bleeding money. It’s anachronistic. Everyone’s sending emails now instead of sending letters, and they’re paying their bills online. Unless it’s privatized or drastically reformed, the Postal Service is just going to go further into the red, eventually costing taxpayers 22

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predicament

Illustration by Bill Pragluski, Critical Stages, LLC w w w. n a r f e . o r g

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billions of dollars to bail out what is supposed to be a self-sustaining agency. That’s certainly the argument made by those who want to remake postal delivery in this country, and, at first blush, they seem to have a point about the finances. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) indeed is suffering financial troubles; it reported a $5 billion net loss for the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2013 (though it was a vast improvement from the record loss of $15.9 billion the previous fiscal year). But what is often overlooked is that the USPS, alone among federal agencies, must live with an onerous requirement to prefund retiree health benefits completely − 75 years in advance and over the course of 10 years. If that sounds odd, it is. Other than the Postal Service, federal agencies do not prefund their civilian retiree health benefits at all. The military prefunds at 29 percent, for which it receives a congressional appropriation. And, according to a 2011 report from the Postal Service Inspector General, “the average level that Fortune 1000 companies prefund retiree health care (many do not prefund) is 28 percent.” So how did the U.S. Postal Service get singled out with such a burdensome requirement?

USPS, alone among federal agencies, must live with an onerous requirement to prefund health benefits completely. The answer includes the usual Washington elements – politics, worries about budget deficits and a concern that escalating health care costs would end up bankrupting the laborintensive agency. But strangely, the Postal Service was largely targeted not because of its failures, but because of its unexpected success in building up a large pension contribution to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund for its retirees. 24

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It Begins With Independence

The story of the prefunding requirement goes back to the early 1970s, when the former Post Office Department was turned into the U.S. Postal Service, an independent agency. Prior to that, the cost of providing mail service, and taking care of postal employees and retirees, was funded by a mix of postage stamps and taxpayer funds, with the federal government paying about a fourth of the cost. In 1971, the USPS was established as an independent agency, putting the burden of both operating expenses and employee costs on the agency itself. The taxpayer subsidies were phased out in the 1970s and disappeared entirely in the early 1980s. Yet the Postal Service wasn’t truly separate from the federal government, either. It was meant to be self-sustaining, but it was also tied to the federal budget for two reasons: first, the Postal Service remains part of the government’s “unified budget”; second, postal retiree benefits are a statutory entitlement, similar to federal retirees. That gave the Postal Service a safety net. If, for example, there weren’t enough money in its own funds to provide pensions or retiree health care, the taxpayers would be on the hook for the bill. Being part of the unified budget meant that the Postal Service’s revenues were part of the calculations in the federal budget. So if the Postal Service had a deficit or surplus, it showed up in the overall numbers in the federal budget, even if those amounts could not be transferred to another government program. “Reagan-Bush era deficit-reduction efforts targeted the Postal Service as a cash cow, resulting in a series of fiscal burdens being imposed on the agency,” recalls Bob Levi, director of government relations for the National Association of Postmasters of the United States (NAPUS). The political rationale provided by the Office of Management and Budget was the worry that the federal government would end up having to “pony up” for postal retiree costs. In 1989, Congress passed a law requiring the agency to pay cost-of-living adjustments for retiree annuities retroactive to 1986. The following year, Congress made the requirement retroactive to 1977. And in 1993,


the postal SERVICE's

Prefunding predicament the Postal Service had to pay $693 million to cover the interest accrued from the unfunded liability for both the cost-of-living adjustments and retiree health care.

The Surplus Surprise

Then, in 2001, U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker delivered a blistering report to Congress on the fiscal future of the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service, Walker testified before the House Committee on Government Reform, was facing daunting financial challenges due to competition from private companies and a drop in revenues, which Walker attributed, in part, to a shift to Internet communication. Still, the cost of operating the Postal Service was increasing, Walker noted. Three-fourths of the outlays were labor related; and while people might not be sending as many letters, the number of addresses was growing. As Walker told the House panel: “We believe that the Service’s deteriorating financial situation calls for prompt, aggressive action, particularly in the areas of cutting costs and improving productivity. Accordingly, we are adding the Postal Service’s transformational efforts and longterm outlook to our High-Risk List, effective immediately, so that we and others can focus on its financial, operational, and human capital challenges before the situation escalates into a crisis where the options for action may be more limited.” Walker’s agency, then named the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), asked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to take a look at what the dismal fiscal outlook meant for pension liabilities. The presumption was that things were going to look pretty bad and that the pension costs were going to turn a worrisome financial situation into an out-and-out crisis. Instead, OPM found the opposite. Its November 2002 report showed that because past contributions to the pension fund were earning a higher-than-anticipated interest rate, the deferred liability for pension obligations was just $5 billion, instead of the $32 billion everyone had been assuming. If the U.S. Postal Service continued to make payments based on the latter, $32 billion

number, the pension fund eventually was going to be overfunded by $71 billion, OPM concluded. The Postmaster General said that if Congress passed legislation to reduce the annual payment, the Postal Service could reduce its debt by $3 billion and avoid a postal rate increase from 2004 through 2006. The news got even better for the Postal Service a few months later, when an analysis of the OPM report by the GAO put the pension overfunding at $103 billion. That number was based on another presumption – that the then-existing law that gave the U.S. Treasury the responsibility to pay for the military pensions of former service members who went to work for the Postal Service would continue unchanged. The military pension obligation went back and forth, and the battle was rooted in the following situation: The Postal Service had a lot of veterans working for it (in part because the agency gave preference to hiring vets), and the years those people spent in the military count toward their total years for pension eligibility. The Postal Service said the U.S. Treasury should pay for the part of the pensions attributable to the service in the military, since those individuals weren’t even working at the Postal Service then. The administration of President George W. Bush said the money should come entirely from the Postal Service’s pension fund, since the credits were worthwhile only when attached to the years spent working at the Postal Service. It would take years before the Postal Service won that fight; but the GAO estimate – that the pension fund was going to be overfunded by $103 billion – radically changed the narrative of the Postal Service as a money-losing operation headed toward insolvency. Under normal circumstances, that would be seen as a good thing: a federal agency sitting on a lot more money than anyone thought it had! But because of the peculiar relationship the Postal Service has with the federal government (and its budget), the good news created a problem for the U.S. Treasury. w w w. n a r f e . o r g

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If the Postal Service reduced or temporarily stopped making its annual payments into the pension fund, it would actually make it appear as though the federal deficit was that much bigger than it was. The Postal Service’s scheduled pension payments are counted as revenue to the federal government; so, if the payments were reduced, federal revenue would be less, resulting in an increase in the deficit. Congress wanted legislation related to the USPS issue to be “budget neutral,” so lawmakers weren’t about to let the Postal Service get away with diminishing its pension contributions if it made the deficit look bigger. “It would have increased the federal budget deficit, even though there’s no tax money involved,” says Jim Sauber, chief of staff of the National Association of Letter Carriers. So what could Congress do to keep the balance sheet balanced?

In 2006, payments to fully fund retiree health benefits were put on a 10-year deadline. In 2003, the answer came in the form of the Postal Civil Service Retirement System Funding Reform Act. The new law shifted the cost of postal employees’ military pensions from the Treasury to the Postal Service. It also allowed the Postal Service to reduce its payments into the pension fund to $1.8 billion from $4.7 billion, but it didn’t let USPS off the hook for the remaining, approximately $3 billion a year. The Postal Service had to use the first two years of the savings to pay down debt to the U.S. Treasury, and after that the money would go into an escrow account until Congress figured out what to do with it. “The creation of the escrow account enabled the bill to reduce its budget ‘score’ because no-longer-required pension funds continued to be tabulated as federal revenue, rather than be remitted to the Postal Service,” says Levi of NAPUS. “It’s important to note that 26

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the authors of the legislation, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, R-VA, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, promised a prompt, favorable resolution of the escrow account.”

The Prefunding Requirement Becomes Law

A few years later, Congress was again ready for postal reform and set to work on the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. The 2006 legislation was the most sweeping postal reform act since 1970 when the Post Office Department was replaced with the self-sustaining U.S. Postal Service. The act replaced the Postal Rate Commission with the stronger Postal Regulatory Commission and stipulated that prices for “market-dominated” products (such as first-class letter postage) not be permitted to increase beyond the consumer price index. It also addressed the issue of the military pension liability. And it dealt with the large amount of random cash in the escrow account. “Shifting the responsibility for military retirement back to the Treasury and liquidating the escrow account would result in an increased deficit,” Levi says. “Consequently, the authors of the 2006 bill, the same authors as the 2003 legislation, needed to devise a plan to ensure that the measure would be cost-neutral. In addition, President George W. Bush’s budget team indicated that the president would oppose a postal bill that cost money.” Hence, the House Government Reform Committee came up with an idea for using that escrow cash: abolish the escrow account and put the money from that account, along with future savings the Postal Service would accrue because of its reduced contributions to the pension fund, into a special “kitty” named the Retiree Health Benefits Fund, to pay for retiree health benefits. Health care costs were going up, people were living longer and fiscal conservatives wanted to make sure the federal government wasn’t looking at a huge, unexpected health bill down the road. The U.S. Treasury would take back the obligation to pay the military pensions, but since that money would also go to the retiree health fund, it wouldn’t upset the federal balance sheet.


the postal SERVICE's

Prefunding predicament The sense was, “we have a big retiree health care program. There are a lot of people who are going to start retiring, and we don’t want the taxpayer to get stuck,” says Jim Campbell, a former Hill staffer and policy consultant on retainer with FedEx. “It’s Congress that’s liable” if there’s not enough money for retiree health care, he notes. Comptroller General Walker, Sauber recalls, thought it was such a fine idea that he urged all federal agencies to prefund their health care coverage for retirees. “There was a revolt all over the city,” with other agencies lobbying hard to avoid the prefunding requirement, Sauber says. In the 2006 postal reform legislation, the Postal Service was stuck with the requirement, the only concession being that the agency was allowed a one-time rate increase to bring in more revenue, he says. For some, it was about addressing a worry (founded or unfounded) that the Postal Service was in worsening financial trouble, says Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute. Others saw it as a way to weaken the Postal Service’s bottom line so they could make a stronger case for privatizing it – eliminating public union jobs in the process, says Eisenbrey, a former senior Hill staffer who spent six years working for the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service. “You had this combination of fiscal do-gooders and people who wanted to privatize, and they were all ganging up.”

Sped-Up Payment Schedule

Then there was the pre-payment schedule, which analysts describe as largely arbitrary. Under the act, the payments to fund the retiree health benefits by 100 percent were put on a 10-year deadline. The plan was that the Postal Service would contribute $5.4 billion in 2007; $5.6 billion in 2008; $5.5 billion in 2010 and in 2011; $5.6 billion in 2012 and in 2013; $5.7 billion in 2014 and in 2015; and $5.8 billion in 2016. Why such an accelerated schedule? Again, it comes down to budget scoring. If the Postal Service was going to be saving money by paying less in pension contributions, Congress wanted that money showing up somewhere,

somehow, in the federal budget. “Some people testified before Congress, saying, ‘let them pay it off over 40 years.’ But they needed to balance out the reduction in the pension contributions, so it would come out as a wash in the budget scoring,” says Steve Hutkins, a New York University professor who monitors Postal Service funding issues. The Bush administration was also adamant about the decade-long paydown, says Sen. Thomas R. Carper, a Delaware Democrat who was one of the cosponsors of the 2006 law. “The White House said, ‘we’re not signing the bill’ ” unless the accelerated payment schedule was included, says Carper, who added that he preferred a much longer period to pay the health care fund. Finally, then-Postmaster General Jack Potter indicated that the funding schedule was “challenging,” but doable. The postal unions argue that the true root of the accelerated funding schedule is ideological, with anti-labor union forces looking for a reason to declare the Postal Service a failure as a public entity. The Republican majority on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, however, argues that it really is about cautious budgeting, explaining on its website that “these catch-up payments will ensure USPS has saved enough money now to meet these obligations later. Within the next few years, the annual costs of paying current benefits will dwarf current costs. Saving now is the only way to make this affordable later and prevent a taxpayer-funded bailout. Though the Postal Service was created to be a self-sustaining entity, taxpayers stand behind this large and growing liability.”

Enter the Great Recession

Even with the unusual prefunding requirement, the Postal Service might have been able to handle the front-loaded contribution burden. But in 2007, the housing market began to implode; and then the recession hit, delivering a particularly hard blow to the USPS. So much of mail is business-related, a downturn in the economy means fewer letters being sent. But w w w. n a r f e . o r g

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the postal SERVICE’s

Prefunding predicament because of the nature of the service, the USPS didn’t save any money from having less work, Campbell notes. “If you double the number of letters, it doesn’t cost you twice as much. And the same thing is true the other way” − a drop in volume has little or no effect on the cost of running the business. That left the Postal Service in an untenable situation, forcing it to operate like a private business, but having some of its financial decisions ruled by the government, Sauber says. “The Postal Service couldn’t raise rates in the middle of a recession, and these costs skyrocketed at the exact same time as the economy tanked,” he says. In 2008, “volumes just plummeted,” Hutkins added. “If that hadn’t happened, they probably could have just made the payments.” As it was, the Postal Service was unable to make its full scheduled payment due in September 2009. So Congress approved – and

President Obama signed – a law allowing the Postal Service to reduce its obligation that year from $5.4 billion to $1.4 billion, with the balance amortized after 2016. The $1.4 billion, notably, is what postal specialists say is about what the Postal Service should be contributing to the health care fund to keep it sound. To bring the prefunding story up to date, the Postal Service failed to make scheduled prefunding payments totaling $16.7 billion from fiscal years 2011-2013. The health care fund is about half funded now, with $48.3 billion still unfunded, according to the Government Accountability Office, which testified in March on actions needed to address the Postal Service’s unfunded benefit liabilities before the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census. — Susan Milligan, a Washington, DC, freelance writer, has been covering the capital since 1984.

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a mixed blessing

Disability

fers

csr

ssa

ssdi By David Tobenkin

“It was like running a marathon and then going to work,” says Cheryl Howle of the medical condition that ended her 28-year federal career as a medical technician at the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010. “I’d wake up in the morning and feel 95 years old just taking a shower. It was like the worst day of a flu every day.” Howle was a medical professional, so she assumed there were laboratory tests that 30

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retirement

OPM rs

for many who qualify, disability retirement is the only realistic option to avert financial ruin or aggravation of their condition. would either prove or disprove the existence of her medical condition, fibromyalgia, a medical disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue. “I thought maybe I’m imagining this since I worked at a lab and couldn’t find a lab test that could identify it as, ‘yeah, that’s your problem.’ ” After years of no improvement, she realized she could not go on and, more importantly, her impaired performance could jeopardize the care of the patients she served. She w w w. n a r f e . o r g

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a mixed blessing

Disability retirement was not yet at minimum retirement age to qualify for standard federal retirement, so she filed with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for federal disability retirement, which she eventually secured in 2011 at age 53.

A Not-Infrequently Needed Benefit

A 20-year-old worker has a roughly 30 percent chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age, according to a 2014 Social Security Administration actuarial study. The decision to seek disability retirement, which allows qualifying federal employees to receive a version of federal retirement benefits until they reach minimum retirement age if they cannot perform the essential elements of their jobs, is not one to be taken lightly. Many can expect raised eyebrows from dubious colleagues and supervisors, difficulties proving the existence of a debilitating medical condition, or arguments that their condition does not preclude them from adequately performing the essential elements of their job. These challenges can cause considerable delays in obtaining the benefits, even when OPM does not contest their claim, due to a general backlog in the processing of cases. Even for those who do qualify for disability retirement, the disability retirement benefits they receive may be less than adequate to support them, may be reduced by interaction with other federal benefits, and may come at the expense of losing a job that, for many, gave their life meaning. But for many federal employees who qualify, it is the only realistic option to avert financial ruin or aggravation of their condition, risks to their health, or risks to services provided to others. It is also one that allows them to supplement their annuity benefit with income from jobs they are able to perform, subject to a revenue cap. 32

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“This benefit can help you to have a decent life by allowing you approximately 40 percent of your previous income until you reach your full regular pension,” says Brad Harris of the Lexington, KY-based Harris Federal Law Firm, who leads a practice specializing in the disability retirement cases of federal employees and who assisted Howle in winning her case at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) after taking over from another firm. “It’s like a bridge to retirement. In the meantime, you have the right to go outside of federal employment and earn up to 80 percent of your previous wage rate.”

What is the Disability Retirement Benefit, and Who is Eligible?

Disability retirement, administered by OPM, is a benefit available to all federal civilian and U.S. Postal Service employees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) plans. Benefits under disability retirement are similar to those for regular retirement for CSRS plan participants and, for the FERS plan, are similar to the annuity component of that plan. For CSRS employees, a disability retiree is entitled to an “earned” annuity computed under the general formula for CSRS benefits, unless that amount is less than a guaranteed minimum, in which case the minimum becomes the basic annuity. The guaranteed minimum is not a fixed amount but varies from one employee to another, depending on age, service and average salary. It is the lesser of 40 percent of the employee’s “high-three” average salary, or the amount obtained under the general formula after increasing the actual creditable service by the time remaining from the commencing


date of the annuity to the date of the employee’s 60th birthday. For FERS employees, disability retirement is calculated for the first 12 months at 60 percent of the employees’ high-three average salary minus 100 percent of any Social Security disability benefit (a separate benefit that is explained in greater detail below) for any month in which they are entitled to those benefits. Thereafter, they will receive 40 percent of their high-three average salary minus 60 percent of any Social Security disability benefit for any month in which they receive the latter benefit until they are eligible for standard retirement. Significantly, disability retirement annuity payments, which, like standard retirement annuity payments, are taxable, likely will be less than the annual salary that most employees would otherwise earn if they were able to continue working in their federal job in their position, though the difference may be less than expected because retirement benefits have fewer deductions than salary. Howle, a GS-9 employee under the FERS plan when she retired, says that interim disability retirement payments began in June 2011, amounting to about two-thirds of the final benefit that began arriving in May 2012. She now receives $1,046 per month in disability retirement benefits and $1,100 per month from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). That is about half of the $4,260 per month salary she would be earning at the same GS-9 position were she working at the job today. Those awarded disability retirement benefits are allowed to augment those benefits with outside or self-employment earnings of up to 80 percent of the current salary rate of their former federal job, so long as their post-federal employment does not involve the same essential skills of that job. The eligibility requirements for disability retirement include: 1. An employee must have completed at least five years of creditable federal civilian service under CSRS; at least 18 months under FERS; 2. An employee must, in a position subject to

Beneficiaries can supplement their annuity with income from jobs they are able to perform, subject to a revenue cap. CSRS or FERS, have become disabled because of disease or injury for useful and efficient service in their current position; 3. The disability must be expected to last at least one year from the date the application is filed; 4. The employing agency must certify it is unable to accommodate the disabling medical condition in the employee’s present position and that it has considered the employee for any vacant position in the same commuting area for which the employee is qualified for reassignment; 5. The employee, his or her guardian, or other interested person must apply before an employee is separated from service or within one year thereafter. The application must be received by OPM or the employee’s former agency within one year of the date of their separation; and 6. The employee must apply for Social Security disability benefits if under the FERS plan, though they need not qualify for them. Under current law and regulations, a disability annuity continues until a recipient is found to have recovered (OPM may require periodic reevaluations of the annuitant’s medical condition to determine if he or she has recovered from a disability), been restored to earning capacity (if earnings in any calendar year equal or exceed 80 percent of the current salary rate of the position from which he or she retired, earning capacity will be considered restored), been reemployed in federal service, or died.

How to Apply

The employee should first determine if his or her employer is unable to provide him or her with a nonmodified qualifying replacement job in the same grade and pay level. If that is not possible, the employee, if he or she has not been w w w. n a r f e . o r g

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a mixed blessing

Disability retirement

Struggling to Keep Up

separated more than 31 days, must route the disability application through the agency human resources department. Many agencies will provide an estimate of disability retirement benefits, review the application for completeness, and assist in forwarding it to OPM. Federal employees are entitled to two chances to obtain disability retirement: If the first OPM decision is negative, they have 30 days after receipt of notice of a denial to request reconsideration. If granted, this allows for 30 additional days to supplement their case record based on what was explained in the denial letter regarding what aspects of the

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claim are missing or inadequate. The key to supporting a disability retirement claim is the employee’s medical records and the testimony of the federal employer that the employee can no longer perform in their assigned job or an equivalent. Retirement disability claimants also frequently hire attorneys, often at a four-figure cost, to help ensure paperwork includes essential documents and excludes extraneous ones, to locate medical experts who can accurately diagnose unusual conditions and state the conditions that preclude effective work performance, and to represent them effectively before OPM and MSPB, includ-

The Office of Personnel ManagemenT (OPM) has struggled to keep up with disability retirement claims. OPM’s Strategic Plan for Retirement Services, a landmark document released in January 2012 that spelled out the agency’s commitment to reducing delays in retirement claims processing, described the even greater challenges posed by disability retirement claims processing. The Strategic Plan noted that as of the time of the report, average nondisability retirement processing time was 133 days, while average disability processing time was 297 days. “This has been the most difficult case type for [OPM’s Retirement Services Group or RS],” said the Strategic Plan. “Although disability eligibility development requirements will always result in longer average processing times for disability cases, Retirement Services has taken a number of steps to reduce both the backlog of disability cases and case processing times, an effort that has borne fruit in recent months,” says Ken Zawodny, OPM associate director, retirement services. He explains that disability retirement cases involve multiple OPM determinations and sometimes require information from other agencies, which can introduce delay. “There are additional efforts currently under way to improve disability retirement processing,” Zawodny says. “Within the last year alone, the Disability Branch within Retirement Services has hired and on-boarded eight additional legal administrative specialists who also will be reviewing applications for disability and rendering decisions on a full-time basis.” There were 6,513 cases still pending as of March 2014, says Zawodny, down slightly from 6,652 cases pending at the end of June 2013. Zawodny says that OPM is no longer measuring disability claims process-


ing challenging adverse findings and supplementing the record. For appeals from adverse OPM disability retirement decisions to MSPB, unlike many other appeals claims before MSPB, there are no settlements. “The stakes are high because it’s all or nothing, you can’t negotiate some compromise – you either get the benefit or you don’t,” Harris says. Howle’s case, on the difficult end of the spectrum, took nearly two years, two denials by OPM, and $9,000 in legal bills from two attorneys before she finally won on appeal before MSPB. On the other hand, many federal employees with less difficult cases responding to a narfe magazine reader survey said it took only a few months or less for OPM to process their claims, and they said that they pre-

pared the claim and answered OPM’s questions themselves without any attorney involvement.

Interaction with Other Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) also offers a disability benefit, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which federal employees can sometimes qualify to receive in addition to the federal employee disability retirement benefit. However, as noted previously, for individuals receiving both, the benefits are offset and reduced. SSDI has a more stringent disability standard, generally requiring a finding that the employee cannot engage in any gainful employment, rather than the federal employee disability retirement standard that he or she cannot perform the essential elements of a

ing by the same methodology used in the Strategic Plan, which measured processing time from when the individual applied for disability retirement through final retirement adjudication. Essentially, he says, the agency now measures disability retirement claims processing in three different steps. In the first step, the disability review and determination of disability retirement claims processing, in fiscal year 2012, OPM processed 8,991 disability retirement cases with an average processing time of 59 days. In fiscal 2013, the agency processed 11,122 cases with an average processing time of 66 days. From the start of fiscal 2014 through March 2014, OPM processed 5,289 cases with an average processing time of 39 days. Once that disability retirement determination is made, the annuitant’s agency must complete the claim by providing additional information, such as the annuitant’s last day of pay or leave balance. No statistics were available for this interval, Zawodny says. In the third step, once the application is completed, the claim is processed as a standard retirement claim, and its processing does not differ in manner or timing from any other retirement claim, says Zawodny. In this step, OPM determines the amount of the annuity. The average processing time for the annuity determination component of all retirement claims, including disability retirement claims, averaged 96 days in fiscal 2013 and averaged 56 days in fiscal 2014 up through the month of March, Zawodny says. This step includes time from submission to OPM to a final determination of the annuity amount, he says. Brad Harris, an attorney representing federal employees seeking disability retirement benefits, says that recent changes by OPM seem to be positive with regard to the quality of review and processing of the claims. —By David Tobenkin

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a mixed blessing

Disability retirement Proving difficult conditions is just one of many challenges that can crop up.

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particular job, says Dorothy Clark, an SSA spokesperson.

Obstacles to Gaining Disability Retirement

In addition to proving difficult conditions such as fibromyalgia and their impact upon work performance, other challenges can crop up. “It was just a lot of paperwork to fill out, and I did miss one form and had to go back and send it in separately,” says Joyce Butler, a former environmental permit employee for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who prepared her own claim and obtained disability retirement in June 2006. “It was a lot of effort to get it together and have those forms filled out by doctors and by different levels of supervisors. Everything has to be exactly right. Every ‘i’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed.” Sometimes an employee’s agency will misinterpret what is an acceptable replacement job, says Robert McGill, a Walkersville, MD-based attorney specializing in representing employees in retirement disability claims. “If a secretary has a bad back and the agency provides a high-tech chair or another job so that her back is no longer taxed and the secretary is able perform her job, they have provided an appropriate accommodation. But some agencies argue that the ability to take leave without pay is an accommodation. It is not, since it doesn’t allow for the employee to perform all of the essential elements of the job.” Sometimes claimants must first overcome unhelpful medical and legal practitioners. Howle, for example, says her original doctor just told her to get more rest, and a later doctor took a year to diagnose her. She also had to overcome an initial lawyer who did little with her claim, she says. By contrast, she praises Harris’ work of sending her to a rheumatologist

who was able to diagnose her illness. Butler thought she would easily meet the requirements for disability retirement because she had a congenital heart condition that resulted in progressive physical deterioration, which made her unable to do her assigned duties, and she had the sympathy of her agency colleagues. But, as she found out, it can take just one wrong person at the employee’s home agency or at OPM to slow the processing of a claim. Others face hurdles at their agencies with supervisors who are not sympathetic or cooperative in preparing their claims.

Worth the Effort?

Some survey respondents who ultimately obtained disability retirement benefits say in retrospect it was a mistake, stating the amount of compensation, particularly when offset against SSDI, was too low. “My advice is do not file for a disability retirement,” says a former U.S. Customs Service special agent granted disability retirement status in 1990. “The pittance that you will be paid will bankrupt you and your family. Instead, try to be reassigned to a different position or even change agencies if necessary.” That may be an option for some. McGill says a switch to light duty, for example, may allow the employee to continue performing the job or, in some cases, an accommodating agency will simply overlook an employee’s inability to perform certain functions. But McGill warns that that is not the same as an accommodation because it is discretionary and may be withdrawn at any time. Too, in some cases, time may work against the employee, as increased impairments can make the process of obtaining relief through disability retirement more demanding upon the disabled employee or can increase the odds of termination by the agency. —David Tobenkin is a freelance writer based in the greater Washington, DC, area.


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11 days from $1399* Enjoy the first 5-days in Los Angeles and the Rose Parade as described above. The following day, depart for Las Vegas, followed by the Grand Canyon for your overnight stay in the park with included breakfast. Then depart to the astonishing Red Rocks of Sedona. You will also visit Montezuma’s Castle enroute to Scottsdale and Phoenix with an included city tour. PPDO. Plus $159 tax/service/government fees. Add-on airfare is available.

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Managing Money

the impact of wep and gpo on social security

F

or the April and May issues, I wrote a two-part series on Social Security rules and options. Since the articles were published, I have received

numerous email messages and calls with questions on the topic. The questions overwhelmingly had to do with the coordination of Social Security benefits when individuals receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security – for example, Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuitants.

Although I had no intention of writing on the subject again anytime soon, I feel it would be a disservice to NARFE members not to provide information on the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) – two provisions that reduce, and in some cases eliminate entirely, potential Social Security benefits. Let’s start with the WEP, which applies when a worker is eligible for his or her own Social Security benefit and a pension based on work not covered by Social Security. In such cases, the WEP applies a modified formula to calculate Social Security benefits, resulting in a lower benefit than you would otherwise receive. Although the WEP may reduce your Social Security benefits, it will not eliminate them entirely. The exact amount of reduction depends 38

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on how many years of “substantial” earnings (an amount defined by the Social Security Administration) you have. As a worker earns more years of substantial earnings, the less the WEP reduction will be until a worker has accumulated 30 or more years of substantial earnings, at which point the WEP no longer applies. Furthermore, as a safeguard for those who may receive a small government pension, the reduction is limited to 50 percent of the government pension. The WEP applies only when the government pension received is based on the recipient’s own work. It does not apply when the pension is being paid as a survivor annuity. For example, let’s assume Jack − a CSRS annuitant − receives $3,000 per month from his CSRS pension, and his wife, Jane, receives $2,000 per month from her Social Security

By Mark A. Keen,

CFP®

retirement benefits. If Jack predeceases Jane and leaves a survivor annuity to Jane, her own Social Security benefit will not be affected. The formula for the WEP is quite complicated. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration’s website has a wealth of information on the WEP, including charts illustrating substantial earnings, maximum reduction and even a WEP calculator. The calculator can be useful if you are close to earning enough credits to receive Social Security benefits and want to determine if the benefit will be worth the extra effort. While the WEP reduces an individual’s own Social Security benefit, the GPO will reduce Social Security “dependent’s benefits,” such as spouse’s, widow’s and widower’s benefits, including those benefits payable as a divorced spouse. The GPO will reduce the dependent’s benefits by two-thirds of the government pension; and, unlike the WEP, the GPO may eliminate the Social Security benefit altogether. For example, let’s take a look at Jack and Jane again; but this time, we’ll assume Jane predeceases Jack. As we learned in May, if Jane dies, Jack is eligible for a widower’s benefit of $2,000 based on Jane’s Social Security benefits. However,


FINANCIAL TOOLS NARFE offers an online retirement calculator and other financial planning tools. Find out more at www.narfe.org/ federalbenefits.

because Jack is receiving a government pension of $3,000 based on work where he did not pay Social Security taxes, the GPO will reduce his widower’s benefit by two-thirds of his pension, or $2,000, and completely eliminate his survivor’s benefit. If Jack’s government pension were smaller − say $2,000 per month − the widower’s benefit would be reduced by approximately $1,333, and he would receive a widower’s benefit of $667.

ROC3137NARFEhalfAds.indd 2

Note that the GPO only applies when the government pension is based on your own work and does not apply when it’s received as a survivor’s annuity. So, if Jane did not earn enough credits to receive her own Social Security benefit, any dependent’s benefits she were entitled to receive based on Jack’s record, or from another marriage, would not be reduced. The GPO and WEP provisions can be quite confusing, and there are a number of circumstances when they do and do not apply. I encourage you to visit the area of the Social Security Administration’s website dedicated to government employees (www.socialsecurity.gov/gpo-wep) to learn more. Mark A. Keen, CFP®, is partner, Keen & Pocock, 10300 Eaton place, Fairfax, VA, and an investment adviser representative and registered principal of The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Securities and advisory services are offered through SFA. Email: mkeen@keenpocock.com.

4/15/14 1:27 PM w w w. n a r f e . o r g 39

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The Informed Citizen

Prepping for august’s advocacy blitz

S

ummer officially begins June 21, just about when this issue of narfe magazine arrives in your mailbox. During the first week of summer, both chambers of Congress will be on Capitol Hill, then the House of Representatives and Senate will recess for the Independence Day Work Period, June 30 through July 6. During the rest of July, both chambers will work on appropriations bills and other minor and major legislation during the week, dial for dollars (campaign fundraising) whenever possible and return home on (most) weekends. Juggling Responsibilities Most representatives and nearly a third of senators are candidates for re-election or higher office. Even before the 113th Congress began, party leaders promised their rank and file they would have all of August through September 7 free from the need to be in Washington. Hopefully, NARFE chapter, district and federation officers and activists already have been slotted space on their legislators’ dance card for multichapter forums or even NARFE-sponsored candidate debates. Flexibility Is Key It is not too late to organize an advocacy activity. Working in coordination with other NARFE leaders, it should still be possible to get a summer appointment with candidates. Be as flexible as possible in order to have the best chance of getting some of the candidates’ scarce time. Allow the invitee to select the time

40

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and place, but insist on enough advance notice to organize the NARFE participants. Promise the largest NARFE audience summertime schedules will allow you to gather. Harness the Rivalry Leverage challengers, who usually have more time and less money, to obtain a commitment from an incumbent. Open seats, where there is no incumbent running for re-election, are a special opportunity to educate all candidates and demonstrate NARFE’s footprint in the district. Remember, July 15 is a deadline for House candidates to file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission. NARFE’s Legislative staff will distribute this information to federation presidents and NARFE-PAC coordinators. Summer Primaries Several states will hold primary elections in August: Kansas,

By Christopher Farrell, Legislative Representative

Michigan, Missouri and Washington on August 5; Tennessee on August 7; Hawaii on August 9; Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin on August 12; Alaska on August 19; and Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma and Vermont on August 26, during NARFE’s National Convention. Appointment Best, Showing Up a Close Second Citizen advocacy is all about building relationships. Even while campaigns are at full throttle, the district offices of representatives and state offices of senators are staffed by federal employees and open for constituents with or without an appointment. Your NARFE Legislative Department staff is eager to make this seemingly daunting task doable. Maps of district office locations are one of the best features of the website www.CongressMerge. com. The NARFE website has been updated with complete staff lists for representatives and senators from the just-published 2014 House and Senate Telephone Directories. If you’d prefer a copy be sent in the mail, send your request to NARFE, ATTN: Congressional Staff List, 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria VA 22314-1914. Then use the Protect America’s Heartbeat Toolkits, www.narfe.org/heartbeat/ resources.cfm, to prepare for your drop-in visit.


Breakthrough technology converts phone calls to captions.

New amplified phone lets you hear AND see the conversation. The Captioning Telephone converts phone conversations to easy-to-read captions for individuals with hearing loss.

A simple idea… made possible with sophisticated technology. If you have trouble understanding a call, the Captioning Telephone can change your life. During a phone call the words spoken to you appear on the phone’s screen – similar to closed captioning on TV. So when you make or receive a call, the words spoken to you are not only amplified by the phone, but scroll across the phone so you can listen while reading everything that’s said to you. Each call is routed through a call center, where computer technology – aided by a live representative – generates immediate voice-to-text translations. The captioning is real-time, accurate and readable. Your conversation is private and the captioning service doesn’t cost you a penny. Captioned Telephone Service (CTS) is regulated and funded by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and is designed exclusively for individuals with hearing loss. In order to use CTS in your home, you must have standard telephone service and high-speed Internet

connectivity where the phone will be used. Callers do not need special equipment or a captioning phone in order to speak with you.

Hello grandm a this is kaitlynn ho w are you today I wan ted to tell you than k you for the birthd ay card

Finally… a phone you can use again. The Captioning Telephone is also packed with features to help make phone calls easier. The keypad has large, easy to use buttons.

“For years I avoided phone calls because I couldn’t understand the caller… now I don’t miss a thing!”

SEE what you’ve been missing! You get adjustable volume amplification along with the ability to save captions for review later. It even has an answering machine that provides you with the captions of each message. See for yourself with our exclusive home trial. Try the Captioning Telephone in your own home and if you are not completely amazed, simply return it

within 60-days for a refund of the product purchase price. It even comes with a 5-year warranty.

Captioning Telephone Call now for our special introductory price! Call now Toll-Free

1-888-749-4791

Please mention promotion code 48067.

The Captioning Telephone is intended for use by people with hearing loss. In purchasing a Captioning Telephone, you acknowledge that it will be used by someone who cannot hear well over a traditional phone.

81108

Do you get discouraged when you hear your telephone ring? Do you avoid using your phone because hearing difficulties make it hard to understand the person on the other end of the line? For many Americans the telephone conversation – once an important part of everyday life – has become a thing of the past. Because they can’t understand what is said to them on the phone, they’re often cut off from friends, family, doctors and caregivers. Now, thanks to innovative technology there is finally a better way.


2014

2013

For the Record

Thrift Savings Plan Monthly Returns G FUND

F FUND

C FUND

S FUND

I FUND

June

0.14%

(1.53%)

(1.34%)

(0.99%)

(2.77%)

JULY

0.18%

0.13%

5.10%

6.88%

5.29%

AUGUST

0.18%

(0.48%)

(2.89%)

(2.76%)

(1.31%)

SEPTEMBER

0.19%

0.99%

3.14%

5.89%

7.41%

OCTOBER

0.19%

0.89%

4.60%

2.94%

3.38%

NOVEMBER

0.18%

(0.35%)

3.05%

2.49%

0.75%

DECEMBER

0.19%

(0.56%)

2.54%

2.94%

1.51%

JANUARY

0.21%

1.58%

(3.45%)

(1.91%)

(4.03%)

FEBRUARY

0.18%

0.62%

4.58%

5.43%

5.58%

March

0.19%

(0.15%)

0.85%

(0.69%)

(0.57%)

APRIL

0.20%

0.90%

0.75%

(2.47%)

1.51%

MAY

0.20%

1.21%

2.35%

1.52%

1.72%

YTD

0.98%

4.22%

5.00%

1.69%

4.03%

LAST 12 MO

2.26%

3.26%

20.54%

20.33%

19.35%

10 yr

3.61%

5.25%

7.12%

10.79%

8.39%

L INCOME

L 2020

L 2030

L 2040

L 2050

JUNE

(0.30%)

(0.94%)

(1.20%)

(1.40%)

(1.59%)

JULY

1.21%

2.95%

3.72%

4.29%

4.83%

(0.39%)

(1.22%)

(1.60%)

(1.87%)

(2.11%)

SEPTEMBER

1.12%

2.71%

3.40%

3.90%

4.42%

OCTOBER

1.01%

2.23%

2.75%

3.11%

3.47%

NOVEMBER

0.58%

1.24%

1.54%

1.74%

1.93%

2013

AUGUST

2014

DECEMBER

0.58%

1.25%

1.56%

1.77%

1.98%

JANUARY

(0.42%)

(1.57%)

(2.04%)

(2.35%)

(2.71%)

FEBRUARY

1.15%

2.73%

3.44%

3.94%

4.44%

MARCH

0.19%

0.17%

0.14%

0.12%

0.09%

APRIL

0.31%

0.39%

0.37%

0.32%

0.32%

MAY

0.64%

1.20%

1.46%

1.63%

1.78%

YTD

1.87%

2.91%

3.34%

3.60%

3.85%

LAST 12 MO

5.81%

11.59%

14.16%

15.97%

17.78%

THIS CHART is provided as a service to NARFE members who enrolled in the Thrift Savings Plan while employed by the federal government. Retirees are not eligible for enrollment. These returns are net of the effect of accrued administrative expenses and investment expenses/costs. Percentages in () are negative. Source: TSP G Fund: Government securities (specially issued to the TSP) F Fund: Government, corporate and mortgage-backed bonds C Fund: Stocks of large- and medium-size U.S. companies S Fund: Stocks of small- to medium-size U.S. companies (not included in the C Fund) I Fund: International stocks of 21 developed countries L Fund: Invested in the G, F, C, S and I Funds (The proportion of L Fund balance invested in each of the individual TSP funds depends on the L Fund chosen.) 42

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In May, all funds in positive territory The global markets generated positive returns across the board in May despite lingering concerns over Ukraine, the strength of China’s economy and the prospects of U.S. growth following a stormy winter. The S&P 500 hit an alltime high during the month in spite of declining trading volumes. Small cap stocks generated positive returns, while investors continued to struggle with valuation issues and stock rotation. The fixed income markets defied traders as positive investor inflows continued and bond yields trended lower. —BY Benjamin Gong, Financial analyst, Thrift Savings Plan

Countdown to COLA

T

he Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 0.38 percent in April. To calculate the 2015 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), the indices of July, August and September 2014 will be averaged and compared with the 2013 third-quarter average of 230.327. The percentage increase, if any, determines the COLA. April’s index, 233.443, is up 1.35 percent from the base. Benefits awarded under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) to individuals suffering work-related injuries or illnesses are adjusted according to each calendar year’s percentage change in the CPI-W. April’s index is 1.86 percent higher than the December 2013 base index of 229.174. The CPI represents purchases of food and beverages, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, recreation, education and communication, and other goods and services. Included are various government fees, such as water charges, auto registration fees, and sales and excise taxes. Month

CPI-W

October 2013

229.735

November December

Monthly % Change

% Change from 230.327

-0.3

-0.26

229.133

-0.26

-0.52

229.174

+0.02

-0.50

January 2014

230.040

+0.38

-0.12

February

230.871

+0.36

+0.24

March

232.560

+0.73

+0.97

April

233.443

+0.38

+1.35

May June July August September


Donate to NARFE Programs Support Alzheimer’s Research Write your chapter number on check; make it payable to: NARFE-Alzheimer’s Research and mail to: Alzheimer’s Association 225 N. Michigan Ave., 17th Floor Chicago, IL 60601-7633

NARFE members contributed for Alzheimer’s research: $11 Million Fund

$10,828,158*

*Total as of April 30, 2014 100% of all contributed funds go to Alzheimer’s research.

Your charitable contribution is tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Enclosed is my NARFE-Alzheimer’s contribution: $ Every cent that is contributed is used for research. Please circle: Mr. Mrs. Miss Ms. Name: Address: City: State: ZIP: Chapter Number: Credit Card Information: MasterCard VISA If you have any questions, write to: Discover AMEX National Committee Chair Card Number: Jane Rodgers, P.O. Box 234 Expiration Date: (mm)/ (yy) Wadesville, IN 47638-0234 3-Digit Security Code: Name: (please print) Email: ajrodgers@tds.net Signature

Join the Silver CIrcle Clip this contribution form and mail to: NARFE Silver Circle, 606 N. Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314

•For a contribution of $25 or more, you will receive a Silver Circle pin, and your name will be listed in narfe magazine with other contributors. •For a contribution of $1,000 or more, your name will be placed on the “Wall of Fame” at NARFE Headquarters.

YOUR CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTION IS TAX-DEDUCTIBLE TO THE FULLEST EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW.

/

Enclosed is my Silver Circle contribution: $ ID # (ID # may be found on your narfe magazine label or your NARFE membership card)

Name: Address: City: Silver Circle contributions are NOT deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Installment Plan Wall of Fame 12-month installment plan

Give to the Scholarship and Disaster Funds

Please mail coupon and check to: FEEA 3333 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Suite 300 Lakewood, CO 80227

/

All donations go to the NARFE General Fund to support NARFE programs and operations.

State:

ZIP:

My check is enclosed

(Please make check payable to NARFE Silver Circle.)

Please charge my credit card Card type MasterCard VISA Discover AMEX Card Number: Expiration Date: (mm)/ (yy) Name: (please print)

Signature

Make check payable to: NARFE-FEEA Disaster Fund or NARFE-FEEA Scholarship Fund.

Date

YES!

Date

/

/

I would like to help with my contribution.

Please check appropriate box(es). To make credit card contributions, call 800-338-0755. Scholarships are available to children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of federal civilian retirees and current federal employees who are NARFE members. NARFE-FEEA Disaster Fund

Amount: $

NARFE-FEEA Scholarship Fund

Amount: $

Name: Address: City:

State:

ZIP:


NARFE News

Board proposals

Register Now for orlando!

O

nline and mail preregistratheir chapter or federation pretion for NARFE’s 33rd Bien- registered them and paid their $75 nial National Convention, registration fee. If they did, convenAugust 24-28 in Orlando, FL, closes tion material will be waiting for on August 1. After that, registration the delegates when they arrive. If must be done on site. they didn’t, and the delegates didn’t On-site registration will open at preregister themselves, they will 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 23, and have to go to on-site registration, close at 4 p.m. on Monday, August wait for their convention material to 25. be prepared and pay $90, instead of Life Membership Designwhether 3/26/13 3:49 PM 1 Delegates Apl_New should know thePage $75 preregistration fee.

In this issue, narfe magazine continues a series on the general resolution and bylaw amendments that the National Executive Board will propose, based on recommendations made by the Future of NARFE Committee. The proposals will be considered at the NARFE National Convention, August 24-28 in Orlando, FL. See p. 45.

The preregistration form is available on p. 50 of this issue. Online registration also is available .To preregister online, go to www. narfe.org and click on the National Convention banner on the left side of the home page. Above, at the 2012 NARFE National Convention in Reno, NV, delegates approach the voting booths.

NARFE NATIONAL LIFE MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION Life Membership Fee Schedule Ages

Contact Information n Mr. n Mrs. n Miss n Ms. Full Name _____________________________________________ Street Address _________________________________________ Apt./Unit______________________________________________ City _______________________ State _____ ZIP _____________ Phone (__________) ____________________________________ Email_________________________________________________ Date of Birth _________ /_________ /___________________ dd

mm

yyyy

Recruiter ID # (if applicable) _________________________________ Chapter Number _______________________________________ (call 800-456-8410 for chapter information) Membership Information Member Number: ______________________________________ (New members) Membership is open to civilians in any agency of the federal or D.C. (before Oct. 1, 1987) governments eligible for a federal annuity.

Thank you for becoming a National Member for Life. You will receive a membership card, certificate and special lapel pin. Please allow six weeks for processing. Dues payments & gift contributions to NARFE are not deductible as charitable contributions for income tax purposes. 44

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Single or Quarterly Payment Installments 30-39 $1,796 $450.25 40-50 1,408 353.25 51-55 1,127 283.00 56-60 960 241.25 61-65 801 201.50 66-70 653 164.50 71-75 514 129.75 76-80 392 99.25 81-90 251 64.00 91-100+ 127 33.00

I am a (check all that apply) n Active Federal Employee n Active Federal Employee Spouse n Annuitant n Annuitant Spouse n Survivor Annuitant

PAYMENT INFORMATION n Single Payment or n Quarterly Installments (4 payments) Life Membership fee amount: $ ______________________ PAYMENT OPTIONS n Check or Money Order (Payable to NARFE) n Charge my: n MasterCard n VISA n Discover n American Express Card No. __________________________________________ Expiration Date _________ /_________ mm

yyyy

Name on Card ______________________________________ Signature ____________________________ Date ________ MAIL THIS APPLICATION TO NARFE Member Records 606 N. Washington St. / Alexandria, VA 22314-1914


National Executive Board Resolution, Bylaw Amendments

A

t the NARFE National Convention, August 24-28 in Orlando, FL, the National Executive Board will offer two bylaw amendments and one general resolution. The general resolution was discussed in the June issue. This month, we turn to one of the two bylaw amendments. This amendment would reduce the number of National Officers from four to two, National President and National Treasurer. Current NARFE National Bylaws specify four officers: president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Any change would require amending the bylaws. (See relevant change, right.)

Should the amendment pass, the National Executive Board has authorized the recovered funds to be used to hire additional, professional marketing and legislative staff and to conduct a search for a professional Executive Director to manage NARFE Headquarters. In the interim, the duties of the two former National Officers would be absorbed by the National President, the National Treasurer and the Headquarters staff. Both the National President and the Na-

tional Treasurer would remain “resident” until a successful Executive Director search is complete and adequate transition time has transpired. “Resident” refers to the fact that current National Officers work at NARFE Headquarters in Alexandria, VA. This series continues in the august issue.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Q A

Why are resident National Officers being eliminated?

Filling National Officer positions from within the ranks of membership causes a number of dilemmas: • Although there are most certainly skilled candidates, with exemplary managerial and supervisory résumés as federal employees, within our ranks, few among us have the background and expertise necessary to run a national not-forprofit, 250,000-member organization. Where our federal employment and general skill set may make for many ideal policy setters on a NARFE Board, the daily running of the not-for-profit business can be best conducted by a well-vetted association professional Executive Director – reporting directly to a policy-setting Board. • Biennial elections of National Officers create a revolving door of As-

sociation leadership, with each new officer arriving with a new agenda and facing a substantial learning curve. Long-term strategic planning becomes difficult, if not impossible. Critical continuity of business management is lost. • There is a substantial cost to the current resident officer model. A nonresident, policy-setting Board ensures the important voice of our membership, while allowing its policies to be implemented by an experienced professional. This is a successful model for many associations.

Q A

Why does NARFE need an executive director, and what will be his/her main roles/ responsibilities?

The Association needs to run efficiently and effectively, with continuity, a business plan, ongoing assessment, and timely and constructive

changes as the “business” requires. The Executive Director will be the key person in the Association to help guarantee continuity and success. • He/she will serve as the Chief Operating Officer of the organization and will have general supervision of all NARFE Headquarters staff. • The Executive Director will develop and implement an ongoing strategic planning process with guidance by the Board. • The Executive Director will develop and manage the annual budget. • The Executive Director will have full hiring authority for all NARFE Headquarters staff. • The Executive Director will be hired by the Board and will be accountable to the Board, serving at its direction, and implementing the policies established by the Board. w w w. n a r f e . o r g

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45


NARFE National Convention August 24-28

rlando Convention Deadlines

preregistration: August 1 (on-site registration ends August 25) Proxy Forms: August 9 Find more information at www.narfe.org/convention2014.

NARFE-PAC Breakfast Planned to Thank Contributors

T

he National Convention will include a breakfast on Wednesday, August 27, from 7-8:30 a.m. to thank top NARFEPAC supporters and encourage additional giving to the Association’s political action committee. “NARFE-PAC represents the only way NARFE, as an organization, can support the campaigns of those members of Congress who support the NARFE mission,” says NARFE Legislative Director Jessica Klement. “Simply put, it’s a way to ensure our friends in Congress stay in Congress.” NARFE members may attend the breakfast if they meet one of the following criteria: • Provide monthly credit card NARFE-PAC contributions of $10 or more (NARFE-PAC “sustainer” program); • Contribute more than $100 over the course of the 2013-14 election cycle; • Provide a new or additional contribution of $50 or more in connection with the breakfast. “To be a player in the political arena, NARFE-PAC relies solely on member contributions; by law, dues money cannot be used for political purposes,” Klement says. “If you

46

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are not a NARFE-PAC sustainer or haven’t given to NARFE-PAC yet this election cycle, please consider joining us for this breakfast to learn more about this crucial tool in the NARFE advocacy toolbox.”

Space is limited. Attendees who meet the criteria and want to attend should reserve spots prior to the convention by emailing Jason Freeman at leg@narfe.org with the subject line “NARFE-PAC Breakfast.”

Travel Arrangements Hotel Registration Rosen Centre Hotel 9840 International Dr. Orlando, FL 32819 800-204-7234 www.RosenCentre.com NARFE Rate: $95 + 13.63% tax = $107.94 single/double occupancy per night. Additional person: $20. For NARFE group rate, please use Group Code 50485. Reservation Cutoff Date: Monday, July 21

Airline Discounts Delta Airlines, www.delta.com. When booking online, select Meeting Events Code and enter the meeting ID: NMGND in the box provided on the Search Flight page. A direct ticket charge of $25 will apply if booking by phone (800-328-1111). United Airlines, www.united.com. When booking online, enter the Z Code: ZSAV, then the Agreement Code: 444067. A $25 service fee will be collected per ticket for all tickets issued by phone through United Meetings reservations, 800-426-1122.

special needs www.NARFEfl.US. Click on “Orlando Area Information” for companies supplying scooters, oxygen and other medical equipment.


Convention CommitteesC To comply with Standing Rule V, members appointed to convention committees are published here by region: Ballot & Teller III: Linda Harmon, FL; Arthur Joseph, FL; Jimmy Coleman, GA, Chair; Bonnie Herndon, GA; Johnny Thompson, GA; Lynda White, GA; Paul Russo, SC. IV: Diane Diller, OH. VI: Marilyn Componation, OK; Alyce Cordray-Green, OK; Patricia Greenshields, TX; Geneva Howe, TX; Ralph Nelson, TX; Linda Richards, TX. VII: Dee Price, AZ; Paulette Nolan, CO. VIII: V. Ann McCraw, CA. IX: Kathleen Freund, OR; Johanna Caylor, WA, Vice Chair; Sigrid Preston, WA. X: Michael Cornelison, KY; Betty Warren, VA. Bylaws I: Augie Stratoti, NH. II: Stuart Sklamm, MD. III: Willa Dean Morgan, AL. IV: Bernard Eugene Niewoehner, IL. V: Linda Kurz, MO. VII: Rodney Adelman, AZ, Vice Chair. VIII: Lawrence Enomoto, HI. X: Robert Allen, NC; Alfred Dansker, VA; William Shackelford, VA, Chair. Credentials IV: Joyous Bowen, WI.

VI: Joseph Landry, LA, Vice Chair. VIII: Vivian Nathanson, CA, Chair; IX: Richard Wilson, WA. X: Raphael Wong, VA. Legislation II: Thomas Sutor, DE. III: Larry Harper, GA. IV: Edward Konys, OH. V: Louis Bornman, KS, Vice Chair; Scott Halstead, MN. VI: Marshall Richards, TX. VII: Sharon Reese, NM. IX: Arnold Hartigan, ID; Don Binder, WA; George Eads, WA. X: Pierce Johnson, VA, Chair. Membership III: Huelyn Harper, GA, Vice Chair. IV: Jean Parke, OH. VI: John Creswell, TX, Chair; Stanley Sartain, TX. VIII: Yoggi Riley, CA. X: Jeanne Garrison, VA. Resolutions III: Marc Harris, FL; Michael Hoyman, FL. VI: Dorothy Creswell, TX, Vice Chair. VIII: Warren Savage, CA. IX: David Epstein, AK. X: Samuel Crain, NC; Richard Giangerelli, VA, Chair. Rules I: Anna Pike, ME. III: Arlette Thomas, FL. IV: Timothy Gartner, OH, Vice Chair. VIII: Eileen Way, NV. X:

Kathy Arpa, VA, Chair. Secretary III: Melinda Atwater, FL, Chair. VIII: Clifford McCraw, CA, Vice Chair. Sergeant at Arms II: John Wheeler, DC; Randell Self, MD; Lorraine Kearney, NJ; Joseph Murone, NJ. III: Barbara Boomershine, AL; Shirley Coleman, GA; Donald Pierson, MS; James Sawyer, MS. IV: Donald Wiese, OH, Chair. V: Ronald Larson, IA, Vice Chair. VI: Dorothy Samuels, OK. VII: Victor Peterson, AZ; Marcele Skelton, NM; Eldon John Light, UT; E. Karen Dockter, WY. VIII: James Crandall, CA; Daniel Mahoney, CA; Joseph Padua, CA; Dianne Wiest, CA; Robert Arthurs, HI. IX: Janice Erfle, MT; Malcolm Freund, OR; Katherine Brooks, WA. X: Kenneth Overhults, KY; Larry Minniear, TN; Ralph Hensley, VA. Timekeeper II: Louis Katz, NJ. III: Carolyn Reeves, FL, Vice Chair; Evelyn Seabrook, FL; Bertha Clark, GA. VI: Daniel Jenner, OK, Chair. X: John Sheely, WV.

schedule in brief SATURDAY, AUGUST 23

8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Registration; Credentials; Banquet Tickets 2-3:30 p.m. Delegate Orientation; Electronic Voting Practice 4:30-6:30 p.m. Opening Ceremonies (Alzheimer’s Cmte.)

Noon-2 p.m. Recess for Lunch 12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch and Learn (Membership 2) 12:30-2 p.m. Electronic Voting Practice 2-5 p.m. Regional Caucuses 5 p.m. Recess for the Day 7 p.m. “Florida Night”

Monday, AUGUST 25

WEDnesday, AUGUST 27

7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast and Learn (Membership 1) 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Registration; Credentials; Banquet Tickets 9 a.m. General Session (Keynote: OPM Dir. Archuleta; Credentials and Rules Committees; State of the Assn. Reports) Noon-1:30 p.m. Recess for Lunch 12:15-1:15 p.m. Lunch and Learn (Future of NARFE Concept) 12:30-6 p.m. Electronic Voting Practice 1:30 p.m. General Session (Resolutions – Future of NARFE Concept – and Bylaws Committees) 5 p.m. Recess for the Day 6-7 p.m. Repeat Breakfast-and-Learn session (Membership 1) 7-9 p.m. Service Officer Meeting/Training

7-8:30 a.m. NARFE-PAC Breakfast (tickets required) 7-9:30 a.m. Voting (Election of National Officers) 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Banquet Tickets 9 a.m. General Session (Regional Caucus Reports; Regional VP Acceptance Speeches; Legislation, Membership and Ballot & Teller Committees) 12:30-2 p.m. Recess for Lunch 12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch and Learn (Legislation) 2 p.m. General Session (Resolutions Committee; FEEA) 5 p.m. Recess for the Day

1-4 p.m. Registration; Credentials; Banquet Tickets

SUNDAY, AUGUST 24

TUESDAY, AUGUST 26 7-9 a.m. Voting (Bylaw Amendment to reduce number of National Officers) 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Banquet Tickets 7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast and Learn (Membership 2) 9 a.m. General Session (Legislation Presentation; Ballot & Teller Committee; Nominations and Acceptance Speeches; Convention Site Selection Committee – 2018)

thursDAY, AUGUST 28 7-9:30 a.m. Voting (in case of run-off election) 9 a.m. General Session (FLTCIP, National Officers Acceptance Speeches; Service Officer, Recruiting/Retention Awards; Officers Installation) Noon Adjourn Noon-1 p.m. Lunch and Learn (Online Activities Module) 6-7 p.m. Banquet Social Hour / 7-11 p.m. Banquet Exhibit hall : Sunday, noon-4:30 p.m.; Monday, 8-9 a.m., Noon-2 p.m., 5-6 p.m.; Tuesday, 8-9 a.m., noon-2 p.m. w w w. n a r f e . o r g

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Take Advantage of Orlando Attractions, at a Discount!

N

ARFE has arranged for attendees and their families to get discounts on Orlando’s world famous attractions, as well as a discount on shuttle transportation from Orlando International Airport to the convention hotel and back. The Convention Host Committee has arranged discounted tickets for: • Walt Disney World Theme Parks, • Universal Orlando Resort (including Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal CityWalk), • SeaWorld Parks (including SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, SeaWorld’s

Waterpark, and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay) and • Other popular Orlando attractions, water parks and dinner shows. To obtain the discounts, go to the NARFE website, www.narfe.org, and click on the National Convention graphic on the left of the Home Page. The Convention site will have links to these discounts. Links also are provided to obtain Orlando visitor guides and “Magicard Deals,” a card with discounts on restaurants, hotels, attractions and other places of interest, as well as other local discounts.

Airport Shuttle Discount. NARFE has negotiated a discounted rate for the Mears Motor Shuttle between Orlando International Airport and the Rosen Centre Hotel, the convention hotel. To get the $28 adult round-trip rate, clip the coupon below and follow instructions for use. Mears accepts credit cards. Other Information. Convention attendees with special medical needs should go to www.narfefl.us and click on “Orlando Area Information” for a list of companies supplying scooters, oxygen and other medical equipment.

A convenient and affordable transfer between Orlando International Airport and your hotel. (Does not apply to the Orlando Sanford International Airport) Instructions: • Upon your arrival at Orlando International Airport, proceed to one of the Mears Motor Shuttle ticket counters and present this coupon to the Mears Counter Attendant. • After redeeming your coupon below for a round trip ticket, please present your ticket to the Mears "Starter" located on level one at the curb. • The starter will then direct you to a designated shuttle servicing the hotel. Our shuttles run 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, departing the curb approximately every 30 minutes providing shuttle service between the airport and your hotel. • One day prior to your departure, please make a return reservation by calling our reservation number listed below. • Plan to allow three hours prior to your flight time for your transfer to the airport. • You can now book online! To receive your online discount, please go to www.mearstransportation.com, Click on the “Book Orlando Shuttle Now” box then enter your the priority code: 476210050 in the “Priority Code” box provided on the lower right corner. • For questions / reservations, please call our toll free number at 1-800-759-5219 (if calling from central Florida, please dial (407) 423-5566). • You must present this coupon for discount.

Mears Motor Shuttle...a great way to start your meeting!

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association Conference Dates: August 22-28, 2014 Valid Coupon Dates: August 18, 2014 - September 1, 2014 RATES SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE

$4.00 Discount Off - Regular Round Trip Price Of: $32.00 per adult $24.00

child (4-11 yrs)

Present this coupon to MEARS MOTOR SHUTTLE COUNTER for round trip transportation to and from the

ORDER # 476210

Rosen Centre

SALES # 050

COUNTER COLLECTS PAYMENT Tickets Must be Purchased Online or at Airport Location for Discount. Gratuity not included.

A

C

(for office use only)

This coupon is valid for shared ride shuttle service via Mears Motor Shuttle. Wait time may be incurred at the airport prior to departure. Each vehicle may make additional hotel stops prior to your destination. MEARS COUNTERS LOCATION:

After you claim your luggage, proceed to LEVEL 1. Our service counters are located inside the building behind the bottom of the escalators or directly across from the LEVEL 1 elevators. • THANK YOU FOR USING MEARS TRANSPORTATION GROUP •

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NARFE 2014 National Convention Orlando, Florida August 24-28

PREREGISTRATION FORM NARFE ID #:_ _________________________________ Name:______________________________________ Address:_____________________________________ ___________________________________________ Name for badge:_______________________________ Chapter #:___________________________________ Location:_ ___________________________________

Please check: o (Guest) Member o (Guest) Nonmember

o Delegate* o Delegate-at-Large* o Alternate*

*NOTE: This is NOT a voter registration form. Voter registration is confirmed by your chapter on Form C/14-2. n n n n

A nonrefundable fee of $75 (payable to NARFE) must accompany this form. Onsite registration fee will be $90. Each attendee must complete a separate registration form. Form must be postmarked by August 1, 2014.

Notify in case of emergency: Name:______________________________________ Phone Number:_ ______________________________ Form C/14-4

o Charge to my credit card: o MasterCard o VISA o Discover o AMEX Card#:_ ____________________________________ Expiration Date:_________ /_ ______

Make check payable to NARFE and send to: NARFE, Treasurer’s Office 606 N. Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314-1914

BANQUET REGISTRATION FORM

August 28, 2014 NARFE ID #:_ _________________________________ Name:______________________________________ Address:_____________________________________ ___________________________________________ Chapter #:___________________________________ Nonmember Guest:_____________________________

(mm)

(yy)

Name on card (print):___________________________ Signature:_ _________________________________

NARFE 2014 National Convention Orlando, Florida August 24-28

n n n n n n

Tables will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Tables seat 10 people. RESERVATIONS LIMITED TO 2,000 PEOPLE. Groups wishing to sit together should submit only one request specifying number of seats desired. Please attach name list. A receipt will be mailed to you by August 1 acknowledging payment and showing your table assignment. All banquet tickets will be held for pickup at the convention registration area at Junior Ballroom F, 1st Floor. BANQUET REFUNDS AVAILABLE ONLY IF RESERVATIONS ARE CANCELLED 72 HOURS PRIOR TO THE BANQUET.

Please reserve _ _____ tickets at $65 each, total $_______ Form C/14-16

Make check payable to NARFE and send to: NARFE, Treasurer’s Office 606 N. Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314-1914

o Charge to my credit card: o MasterCard o VISA o Discover o AMEX Card#:_ ____________________________________ Expiration Date:_________ /_ ______ (mm)

(yy)

Name on card (print):___________________________ Signature:_ _________________________________


Are you in love with your home but afraid of your stairs?

Why struggle up and down stairs when Easy Climber® can give you a lift? Easy Climber® is the easy, convenient and affordable way to get up and down your stairs without the danger and health risks. Remember the days when you woke up, jumped out of bed, threw on your clothes and ran down the stairs to greet the day? Yeah... me neither... that was years ago. Now, everyone from my doctor to my kids are telling me I need to avoid using my stairs. The problem is, I’ve lived in this house for years, and if I don’t use the stairs I either have to sleep in my family room or live in my bedroom. Why should I risk my safety just to get around? Then, a friend told me about an innovative solution, the ® Easy Climber . It’s basically a chair lift for your stairs... and it’s given me back my home. At the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, the company that makes the Easy Climber was inspired by the lift used in the Eiffel Tower and later created a lift of their own. In 1961 they introduced the first seated stair lift, and now they’ve taken their knowledge and expertise

Safety: Easy Climber features a swivel seat, foot and armrest that are powered to enable you to get in and out of the chair safely and easily. Sensors automatically stop it immediately if it hits an object. There’s even an EZ Clip buckle on the seat belt and no slip handles for added peace of mind. Quality and Simplicity: This company has been making these products for a long time– they do it right. This exclusive model features innovative design and quality components. It’s simple and reliable, with the least need for maintenance and repair. Warranty: This system is backed by Easy Climber exclusive limited lifetime warranty - the best in the business. Flexibility: Easy Climber is designed for easy installation on either side of the staircase. The seat-mounted controller can be placed on either side and the call/send controls can be mounted wherever you want them. When you’re not using it, simply park Easy Climber at the top of the stairs and out of sight.

and created the safest stair climber on the market today. Easy Climber has exclusive safety features and design innovations as standard equipment. This exclusive product was designed with one overwhelming goal: safety first. From a seat that won’t let you get out the wrong way to a battery backup for power outages, this stair climber has the features you want and the safety you need. Why risk your life on the stairs when an easy and affordable solution is only a phone call away. Call now and a knowledgeable product expert will answer any questions you may have.

Call now to find out how you can get your own Easy Climber. Please mention promotional code 48063. For fastest service, call toll-free 24 hours a day.

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Active and Retired Federal Employees ...

JOIN NARFE TODAY!

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association The only organization dedicated solely to protecting and preserving the benefits of all federal workers and retirees, NARFE informs you of any developments and proposals that affect your compensation, retirement and health benefits, AND provides clear answers to your benefit questions.

Who Should Join?

Three Easy Ways To Join 1. 2. 3.

N A R F E M E M B E R S H I P A P P L I C AT I O N n YES. I want to join NARFE. n Mr. n Mrs. n Miss n Ms. Full Name ________________________________________ Street Address ____________________________________ Apt./Unit ________________________________________

I am a (check all that apply) n n n n n

Active Federal Employee Active Federal Employee Spouse Annuitant Annuitant Spouse Survivor Annuitant

n Please enroll my spouse

City _______________________ State _____ zIp ________

Spouse’s Full Name ________________________________

phone (__________) _______________________________

Spouse’s Email ____________________________________

Email____________________________________________

NARFE respects the privacy of our members. Personal information is used to provide content and relevant communications to our members, and will not be sold or rented to third parties without your express permission.

Choose Your Membership Type o eNARFE Chapter Online Membership – $40 NARFE’s electronic chapter. Receive narfe magazine by mail each month, and all other communications by email and on eNARFE.org. Get important updates and legislative action alerts, and have access to the eNARFE blog.

OR

o Local Chapter Close-to-Home Membership – $40*

PAYMENT OPTIONS n Check, Money Order or Bill pay (payable to NARFE) n Bill me (NARFE membership will start when payment is received.) n Charge my: n MasterCard n VISA n Discover n American Express Card No. _____________________________________ Expiration Date _________ /_________

Affiliation with the NARFE chapter closest to your home. Receive narfe magazine each month; attend meetings, often with invited speakers; network; and get involved in grass-roots lobbying efforts.

Name on Card _________________________________

Chapter Affiliation: Chapter # __ __ __ __(if known, otherwise enroll me in the chapter closest to my zIp code).

Date _________________________________________

*First-year dues. Subsequent years, $40 plus local chapter dues.

Total Dues $40 First-Year Dues X __________ = __________ per person # Enrolling Total Dues

mm

yyyy

Signature _____________________________________

MAY WE THANK SOMEONE? If applicable, please provide the name, membership and chapter number of the member who introduced you to NARFE: Recruiter’s Name __________________________________ Recruiter’s Membership ID __________________________ Recruiter’s Chapter Number _________________________

MAIL THIS APPLICATION TO NARFE Member Records / 606 N. Washington St. / Alexandria, VA 22314-1914


NARFE’s Dues Withholding Program What is dues withholding? It is a dues-payment method that gives NARFE members (retirees) the option of having their annual NARFE membership dues deducted from their annuities on a monthly basis. How does it work? One-twelfth of your total dues is automatically deducted from your monthly annuity. Your monthly deduction is determined by the following formula: (National dues ÷ 12) + (Chapter dues ÷ 12) = Total Monthly Deduction

Advantages • Save 15% off your annual membership dues! • Sign up your spouse and double your savings! • You’ll never get another dues reminder from us! • Your monthly payment is affordable and convenient! • You may cancel your dues withholding at any time! Application process It takes 60-90 days to process your application. Once the process is complete, you will receive a special membership card distinguishing you as a NARFE dues-withholding member.

To learn more about dues withholding, call 800-627-3394. Retirees, spouses of retirees and annuitant survivors are eligible for dues withholding.

NARFE Dues Withholding Application for Retirees n YES. I want to enroll in NARFE’s Dues Withholding Program (Annual dues of $34 plus Chapter dues of record to be withheld annually.) Social Security Number (9-digit number)

Civil Service Annuity Number

C S

(Include prefix, CSA or CSF) (Include any applicable suffix)

n Mr. n Mrs. n Miss n Ms. Full Name _______________________________________

NARFE MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION

Street Address ___________________________________

NARFE Membership ID ____________________________________

Apt./Unit________________________________________

NARFE Chapter Number____________________________________

City _________________________ State _____ ZIP _____

n YES. I Also Authorize My (NARFE Member) Spouse’s Dues To Be

Phone (__________) ______________________________ Email ___________________________________________ Date of Birth _________ /_________ / ____________________ dd

mm

yyyy

Withheld From My Annuity. (Additional annual dues of $34 plus Chapter dues of record to be withheld annually.) If YES, enter spouse’s information below. Spouse’s Name ___________________________________________ Spouse’s Membership ID ___________________________________

AUTHORIZATION (Withholding will begin in 60-90 days). No payment should be forwarded with application. I authorize the United States Office of Personnel Management to make appropriate deductions from my annuity payments, not to exceed the amount certified by the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association as the amount of dues for which I am annually obligated, in accordance with elections I make below, and to pay the deducted sum to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). This authorization shall also apply to any and all dues changes certified by NARFE membership in accordance with elections I make below: Please allow 60-90 days for processing.

I understand that this authorization shall be valid until NARFE receives and processes my written notice of cancellation in accordance with its agreement with the Office of Personnel Management and that any disputes regarding this authorization shall be a matter between NARFE and myself. I hold the Office of Personnel Management harmless for any erroneous allotment deduction made pursuant to this authorization. ___________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________

Signature of Annuitant or Survivor-Annuitant

Date

Dues payments and gifts or contributions to NARFE are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. MAIL THIS FORM TO: NARFE, ATTN: Member Records, 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314-1914 www.narfe.org 800-627-3394 rr@narfe.org Do not send money with this form

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Member Perks

NARFE Member Perks

are designed to provide NARFE members with a quality option in their search for commonly used products and services. NARFE makes no guarantee on any products and services listed, and encourages its members to shop and compare before making a decision on any financial matter.

Credit Union

NARFE Premier Federal Credit Union 800-328-1500 www.NARFEpremierfcu.org As a member of NARFE, you have the privilege of joining NARFE Premier Federal Credit Union, which has been serving members since 1935. We offer extensive services at competitive rates to members nationwide. Your savings are federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government. For more information, call the number above, email jparish@narfepremierfcu.org or visit the website.

insurance

NARFE Insurance Services 800-233-5764 www.narfeinsurance.com Designed and administered by Mercer Health & Benefits Insurance Services, LLC, exclusively for NARFE members: Senior Whole Life, Term Life, Medicare Supplements, Hospital Income Plan, Short Term Recovery Insurance, Pet Insurance, Accidental Death &  Dismemberment, Cancer Care, Enhanced Dental Insurance and Long Term Care. Go to the website for more information on these programs.

GEICO 800-368-2734 NARFE members with good driving records may be eligible for quality automobile insurance from GEICO. Ask about the NARFE discount available to members in many states. Call to54

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day for your free, no-obligation rate quote. Be sure to mention that you’re a NARFE member! • Discount amount varies in some states • Discount not available in all states or in all GEICO companies • One group discount applicable per policy.

Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program 800-LTC FEDS www.LTCFEDS.com Make long-term care insurance part of your retirement plan. With benefits designed specifically for the federal family, the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program offers a smart way to help protect savings and assets, and remain independent should you need long-term care services someday. Start planning for the future. Visit www.LTCFEDS.com today.

Vacation rentals

Government Employees Travel Opportunities® 877-867-3639 www.getravelop.com/narfe Offers government employees, retirees and their families 7-night stays for only $349 on accommodations at popular destinations worldwide. Book online and save on your next vacation stay.

hotels

Choice Hotels International 800-258-2847 www.choicehotels.com With 6,000 hotels in the United States and throughout the world, Choice Hotels® offers something for everyone. Join the Choice Privileges® rewards program and earn points with every qualifying stay toward free nights, Airline Rewards, gift cards and more. As a NARFE member, receive 20% off your next stay at participating hotels when you use Special Rate ID 00801967. This offer is subject to availability and cannot be combined with any other offer. Advance reservations required.

Wyndham Hotel Group 877-670-7088 As a member of NARFE, you will receive up to 20% off the “Best Available Rate” at participating locations. Call and give the agent your special discount ID number, 8000002694, at time of booking to receive discount. Whether you are looking for an upscale hotel, an all-inclusive resort or something more cost-effective, we have the right hotel for you... and at the right price. So start saving now. Call our special member-benefits hotline 877-670-7088 and reserve your room today at one of these fine hotels: Wyndham Hotels and Resorts®, Days Inn®, Ramada Worldwide®, Super 8®, Wingate By Wyndham®, Baymont Inns and Suites®, Hawthorn Suites® By Wyndham, Microtel Inns and Suites®, Howard Johnson®, Travelodge® and Knights Inn®.

car rentals

National You Drive A Hard Bargain. Receive up to 20% off rentals at National Car Rental. To make a reservation call National Car Rental at 1-800-CAR-


RENT® and reference Contract ID 5282909.

experience. Call Angela and mention you are a NARFE member to start the moving process.

Alamo Drive Happy® with Alamo® where NARFE members receive year-round discounts. Call 1-800-462-5266 and reference Contract ID 262544.

Avis The employees/owners of Avis offer guaranteed low rates and quality services to members of NARFE. Call 800-331-1441 and mention ID# A991900.

emergency services

MASA 800-423-3226 Medical Air Services Association has been the industry leader in prepaid emergency assistance services for more than 30 years. NARFE members have experienced MASA’s “peace of mind” services since 2001. Now NARFE members are entitled to even more: air ambulance transportation, helicopter transportation, ground ambulance, vehicle return, mortal remains transport, and much more! Call MASA Today. It Could Save Your Life!

Moving services

Bekins Van Lines 800-248-4810 www.narfe@bekins.com All NARFE members will receive contracted pricing for all interstate shipments. This will apply to packing, transportation and full-value coverage against damages. In addition, Bekins Van Lines can assist with instate shipments, local moves and international moves with competitive pricing and quality service. Please mention you are a NARFE member and ask for Todd.

Wheaton World Wide Moving 800-248-7960 www.narfe@wvlcorp.com At Wheaton, we know interstate relocating is much more than trucks and boxes. Moving is not simply an address change. It’s a life change. With a network of top-quality agents throughout the United States, Wheaton provides peace of mind with every relocation. We offer you, as a NARFE member, benefits to help you have a positive interstate relocation

health screening

Life Line Screening 800-324-9906 www.lifelinescreening.com/ NARFE Life Line Screening, America’s leading provider of community-based preventive health screenings, will conduct the following screenings using state-of-the-art ultrasound technology in your neighborhood. 1. Stroke/Carotid Artery 2. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm 3. Atrial Fibrillation 4. Peripheral Arterial Disease. You will receive a confidential written report within 21 days. Life Line Screening and NARFE encourage you to share these test results with your doctor. All four screenings cost just $135. To schedule an appointment, please call the number above and give the operator code number BKHN075 or visit the website. Coverage may vary and may not be available in all states.

education

Ivy Bridge College 877-615-9246 http://ivybridge.tiffin.edu/ narfe Want to earn your associate’s degree before you transfer to a four-year school? Ivy Bridge College offers a variety of degree programs that will help put you on the right track. No matter which program you choose, an education with Ivy Bridge will provide you with a solid foundation for a rewarding future. NARFE members and their families can enjoy an exclusive 5 percent savings on tuition at Ivy Bridge, a unique online institution that provides a highly supported pathway to a bachelor’s degree. To learn more, call or visit the website.

narfe merchandise

NARFE General Store 855-99NARFE (855-996-2733) www.narfegeneralstore.com As the official provider of NARFE merchandize, the NARFE General Store offers NARFE-approved name badges, business cards, customizable logo products and plaques. Check out our online catalog.

NOT A MEMBER? GO ONLINE: It’s easy to join online at www.narfe.org. Click “Join NARFE.” TURN TO PAGE 52: Fill out the Membership Application and mail it to NARFE to receive all the perks of being a NARFE member. Call (Toll-Free) 800-627-3394.

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The Way We Worked

as feds, vets are a good bet This photo shows Thelma M. Shaw and Walter L. Bradshaw, a veteran, working as clerks in the Veterans Administration Regional Office in Baltimore, MD, in the late 1940s. Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to serve and hire veterans. One-third of its employees are veterans. In 2009, President Obama, by executive order, created an initiative to improve federal hiring of veterans. In fiscal year 2013, of 162,839 new federal employees, 50,502 (31 percent) were veterans. Photo courtesy of Thomas Ryan, National Archives, Office of the Historian, Records of the Office of Personnel Management, National Archives; in collaboration with the Society for History in the Federal Government (SHFG), bringing together government professionals, academics, consultants, students and citizens interested in understanding federal history work and the historical development of the federal government. Website: http://shfg.org/shfg/. 56

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Did you know? In the mid-19th century, clerks represented three-quarters of the federal workforce. However, by the early 21st century, the number of clerks working in the federal government has decreased to 4 percent, largely due to advances in technology and the move away from paper. Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the few departments that still employs relatively large numbers of clerks.


“To you, it’s the perfect lift chair. To me, it’s the best sleep chair I’ve ever had.” — J. Fitzgerald, VA

Remote Controls for Heat, Massage, Recline and Lift

Separate Heat and Massage Controls!

Our Perfect Sleep Chair is just the chair to do it all. It’s a chair, true – the finest of lift chairs – but this chair is so much more! It’s designed to provide total comfort and relaxation not found in other chairs. It can’t be beat for comfortable, long-term sitting, TV viewing, relaxed reclining and – yes! – peaceful sleep. Our chair’s recline technology allows you to pause the chair in an infinite number of positions, including the Trendelenburg position and the zero gravity position where your body experiences a minimum of internal and external stresses. You’ll love the This lift chair puts you safely other benefits, too: It helps with on your feet!

correct spinal alignment, promotes back pressure relief, and encourages better posture to prevent back and muscle pain. And there’s more! The overstuffed, oversized biscuit style back and unique seat design will cradle you in comfort. Generously filled, wide armrests provide enhanced arm support when sitting or reclining. The high and low heat settings along with the dozens of massage settings, can provide a soothing relaxation you might get at a spa – just imagine getting all that in a lift chair! Weight capacity 375 lbs. Shipping charge includes white glove delivery. Professionals will deliver the chair to the exact spot in your home where you want it, unpack it, inspect it, test it, position it, and even carry the packaging away! Includes one year service warranty and your choice of fabrics and colors – ships in approximately three business days.

The Perfect Sleep Chair Call now toll free for our lowest price. Please mention code 48065 when ordering.

1-888-741-2012 Long Lasting DuraLux Leather DuraLux II

Tan

Burgundy Cashmere

Fern

Brown

46357

We’ve all had nights when we just can’t lie down in bed and sleep, whether it’s from heartburn, cardiac problems, hip or back aches – could be a variety of reasons. Those are the nights we’d give anything for a comfortable chair to sleep in, one that reclines to exactly the right degree, raises feet and legs to precisely the desired level, supports the head and shoulders properly, operates easily even in the dead of night, and sends a hopeful sleeper right off to dreamland.

Sit up, lie down — and anywhere in between!

Burgundy

Chocolate Indigo

Microfiber © 2014 by firstSTREET for Boomers and Beyond, Inc.


Reg. 39.99 Dr. Scholl’s is a registered trademark of MSD Consumer Care, Inc. © 2014 MSD Consumer Care, Inc. All rights reserved. MagicCling™ is a trademark of Haband Company.

Breathable perforated sock & insole Stitched-in arch support

Shock-absorbing foam Heel cushion

Soft padded microsuede insole

Layers of fabric for excellent flexibility Steel arch support

EVA heel insert absorbs shock

Cooling air tunnels

Lightweight flexible TPR outsole

Brown

All the Best Features at the Very Best Price:

Leather Uppers! Our most * Genuine buttery-soft, long-wearing leather with

* *

supple, durable manmade trim! Comfort-Flo Design Outsole! Custom designed for us, this outsole passes air through the shoe with each and every step you take! One-Strap MagicCling™! No bothersome laces, just a quick & easy MagicCling™ strap that never comes undone! AVAILABLE IN SIZES UP TO 14EEE!

*Plus, FREE SHIPPING! Order Today!

Dark Tan

2 pairs 56.97 • 3 pairs 81.95 • 4 pairs 105.87 Haband #1 Bargain Place, Jessup, PA 18434-1834 Visa

1

Grey

MC

Discover ® Network

AmEx

Check

Card # _____________________________________________Exp.: ______/_____ Mr. Mrs. Ms. ________________________________________________________ Address _______________________________________________Apt. # _______ City & State _________________________________________ Zip ____________ Phone/Email_________________________________________________________ Send ____ pairs. I enclose $________ purchase price plus $7.99 toward shipping. In GA add sales tax. D Widths: 7 7 ⁄2 8 8 1⁄2 9 9 1⁄2 10 10 1⁄2 11 12 13 14 *EEE Widths ($4 more per pair): 71⁄2 8 8 1⁄2 9 9 1⁄2 10 10 1⁄2 11 12 13 14

Driftwood

Black

#1 Bargain Place Jessup, PA 18434-1834

100% Satisfaction Guaranteed or Full Refund of merchandise purchase price.

FREE SHIPPING!

On-Line Quick Order

Imported

7T2–4787X

WHAT WHAT HOW SIZE? WIDTH? MANY?

Ø4 1C 2G Ø6 U4

BROWN BLACK DRIFTWOOD GREY DARK TAN

When you pay by check, you authorize us to use information from your check to clear it electronically. Funds may be withdrawn from your account as soon as the same day we receive your payment, and you will not receive your check back from your financial institution.

For Faster Service Call: 1-800-543-4810 or visit www.Haband.com/bestdeals

July 2014 NARFE Magazine  

July 2014 NARFE Magazine

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