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Friday, September 18, 2015

Senator Tom Carper is no friend of working people

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) has once again introduced legislation to "reform" the Post Office by blowing it up. While this is presented as fixing problems, what it really does is radically destroy the working wages that USPS employees depend upon to support their families. In addition, this legislation once again contains stealth provisions that will radically change FECA benefits for ALL federal employees not just Postal Employees. It must be very difficult to keep your billionaire friends happy without showing them that you will make life harder for working people.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Interactions between FECA benefits and SSA benefits for OWCP claimants

When a federal employee draws workers compensation wage loss benefits and is also receiving social security disability benefits there is an offset that frequently occurs that results in a reduction of the amount of the social security disability check. If you begin to receive BOTH your workers compensation check from OWCP and a social security disability check from SSA, be sure to provide SSA with documentation that you are receiving workers compensation or you may end up with a significant overpayment from SSA.

When you attain the age that entitles you to regular SSA retirement, SSA automatically switches you over and starts paying the full amount of the retirement annuity instead of the reduced disability amount. Most people receive a letter some months in advance of that happening. At the moment that SSA switches someone from disability to retirement, you must notify OWCP of this immediately as the offset flips, and now there is a reduction of the amount of workers compensation pay that is calculated based upon the amount of the SSA retirement check that arises from contributions to SSA while working in a federal job and contributing to the FERS pension system. I have seen many overpayments that arise in this situation. Be sure to notify OWCP as soon as your social security disability becomes a retirement benefit.

Another issue that arises when someone is determined to be disabled or retired by SSA is that they will eventually become eligible for Medicare. Once approved, Medicare is automatically considered your primary health insurance and your regular health insurance is then considered your secondary health insurance. At that time, you need to switch from the regular, more expensive version of your health plan, to a cheaper version of the same plan that "wraps" around the Medicare. These are sometimes referred to as a wrap plan. There will be a code number for the version of your plan that takes into account that you are receiving Medicare and you will need to submit the paperwork to change your health plan enrollment. There can be a significant savings in the cost of your health insurance so you should not ignore this issue.

The information and forms you need to change your health benefit enrollment can be found on the Office of Personnel Website: