Last week the National Institutes of Health announced a phase three trial had started to check a possible COVID-19 vaccine developed by biotechnology firm Moderna Inc. and NIH. Moderna stated it’s on track to provide as many as 1 billion doses yearly beginning in 2021. This possibly promising development is the most welcome, because the COVID-19 news was grim of late.
According to the CDC, over 4.4 million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus because the epidemic started. Since the start of the pandemic, almost 1 percent of federal workers have tested positive. Nearly 19,000 civilian workers have contracted COVID-19, along with over 20,000 military associates. As of June 16, the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation had obtained two,866 COVID-19 asserts, such as 48 departure claims.
We can all expect that an end to the pandemic isn’t too much off. Meanwhile, it’s a fantastic idea to evaluate your readiness in case you’re affected by COVID-19. Listed below are five questions each federal worker needs to be able to reply “yes” to. If your answer to some of these is “no,” then you’ve got some homework to do. I’ve included links to sources that will assist you do so.
Would you know how long you might continue to stay financially protected if you had been diagnosed with a critical illness?
Federal personnel accrue 104 hours of sick leave each year. Over 10 years, that adds up to six months of paid time off. Obviously, you may have employed some of the depart to your illness or to care for a relative. How long could your present sick leave (and yearly leave) equilibrium last if you weren’t capable to function for an elongated period?
The convenient Geico Leave Record is a fantastic method to plot how long your leave will survive. (Don’t forget to incorporate the depart you’ll earn while utilizing your depart.) You may get in touch with your human resources office to find out whether your agency has a leave transfer program or a voluntary leave bank to aid you in case your exit works out.
Just how much would you have accessible cash? Money reserves can sustain you in the event that you want to go to get a period of leave without pay. The CARES Act passed in March has made federal employees’ Thrift Savings Plan capital more accessible during liberalized loan and withdrawal applications for those influenced by COVID-19. Separated employees that are subject to mandatory minimum distributions don’t need to take them in 2020, and can return money already received this year by Aug. 31.
Do you know what your dependents would be entitled to if something happened to you?
Are your designation of beneficiary forms up to date?
The Office of Personnel Management has information regarding death service benefits for CSRS also FERS employees. Your spouse and your dependent children may be entitled to recurring survivor annuity benefits. Social Security provides benefits to your dependent children, your spouse aged 60 or older, or your spouse at any age if caring for your dependent children.
If your illness or death was work-related, then benefits are payable to your family through the Division of Federal Employee’s Compensation in the Labor Department’s Office of Worker’s Compensation. In order to claim compensation benefits related to COVID-19, the office says, federal employees “are required to have in-person and close proximity interactions with the public on a frequent basis—such as members of law enforcement, first responders, and front-line medical and public health personnel.”
Did you stay the course with your retirement savings despite the stock market volatility this year?
It’s been an unprecedented year for the market—to say the least. After one of the worst first quarters in history for U.S. stocks, the second quarter was one of the best in decades. At the end of March, the C Fund was down 19.65%, the S Fund was down 28.14%, and the I Fund was down 22.7%. If you had $500,000 invested on Dec. 31, 2019 in the TSP at 50% in the C Fund, 30% in the S Fund and 20% in the I Fund, your balance by March 31 would have fallen by $114,043 to $385,957.
If you then moved everything to the G Fund, by June 30, your balance would have grown to $388,740. But if you had left your investments alone, by June 30, your balance would have recovered all but $27,730 of its losses, and would be at $472,270.
Do you have an investment strategy for retirement?
To develop a good strategy for your retirement savings, it’s important to understand your ability to withstand volatility in the market and how you manage risk. This is generally determined by several factors, including your age, income, and how long you have until you retire. Generally, the younger you are, the more risk you may take on.
One way to easily manage your retirement savings is to let someone else do it for you. Some federal employees work with a qualified financial advisor. And many others simply let the TSP’s 10 lifecycle funds do the diversification and rebalancing for them.
Do you know the current value of your life insurance?
OPM has an online FEGLI calculator that makes it easy to figure the premiums for the various combinations of coverage. The calculator will also allow you to see how life insurance carried into retirement will change over time. You may want to look at your pay stub or the FEGLI code on a Notification of Personnel Action (SF 50) form to find out the actual amount of FEGLI coverage you currently have.
FEGLI also offers a living benefit that applies if you’re diagnosed as terminally ill with a life expectancy of nine months or less, and you have not assigned your insurance. The FEGLI Handbook has details about this and other important insurance information.
If you need additional life insurance and you are insurable, you may wish to consider a private term insurance policy with level payments that could be less expensive than FEGLI Option B. Option B provides insurance amounts valued in multiples of your basic salary rate, but the premiums increase every five years as you get older. Be sure to consider the fact that FEGLI will pay your beneficiary regardless of the cause of your death—unless your beneficiary intentionally caused your death.
It’s generally a good idea to maintain Basic FEGLI coverage while you’re a federal employee because you receive a government contribution to the premium and the insurance amount increases with every salary increase during your career.