NARFE NewsWatch
Sep. 25, 2012

FEHBP premiums up an average of 3.4 percent
The Office of Personnel Management has announced the average premium for those covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will increase by 3.4 percent in 2013. NARFE President Joseph A. Beaudoin commended OPM for keeping the rate increase "reasonable and in line with the private sector." But Beaudoin pointed out that "any increase means a decrease in take-home pay for federal employees," who will be facing an extension of the current two-year pay freeze at the same time the premium increases will go into effect. "In this economy, we should be working to put more money into the hands of all Americans, not less," Beaudoin said. "Contrary to what many across the country might think, our nation's retired and active federal workers, who pay 30 percent of their health care premiums, are already contributing their fair share. A premium increase, combined with a pay freeze, will be another hardship for struggling families." NARFE magazine will have coverage of the FEHBP rate changes in its November issue.More

Postponing FERS annuity
Question: I have been employed under the Federal Employees Retirement System with the U.S. Postal Service since 1994. I will reach my minimum retirement age in December and plan to retire in January. I have no previous civil service or military time. Under the MRA+10, can I defer my annuity until I reach age 62, so as to avoid the penalty?More

Officials address the coming wave of federal retirements
Government Executive
With nearly one-third of the federal workforce eligible to retire within the next four years, human capital planning is more essential than ever to the government, officials recently told lawmakers. Filling skill gaps — particularly those in cybersecurity and information technology — could prove especially challenging, according to Government Accountability Office Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, who recently spoke at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on the Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia.More

OPM planning how to automate pension processing
Federal Times
The Office of Personnel Management is hatching a plan to digitize personnel records and automate pension calculations. That project will be included in the president's proposed 2014 budget, which will be released in February, said OPM Director John Berry at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee hearing Sept. 19.More

Sequestration would mean tens of thousands of furloughs
Federal Times
For large swaths of the federal workforce, automatic budget cuts set to take effect early next year would mean unpaid furloughs, according to current and former officials. "We're talking about at least tens of thousands [of employees] if it goes on a couple of months," said John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service.More

Smaller COLA on the horizon for federal retirees
Government Executive
Federal retirees again are on track to receive a small annual cost-of-living adjustment boost in 2013, but it will probably be a lot smaller than this year's increase. The COLA figure for next year isn't out yet, but it's likely to be somewhere around 1.4 percent, based on the latest numbers. More

Tips on 'clean eating' from an expert
Tosca Reno is defying the odds. At 53, the author and fitness expert refuses to subscribe to the stereotypes that accompany her age. Instead, she is changing them. And, in the process, she's encouraging others to change their lives. Reno, the author of 13 clean eating books, says the secret to being healthy and happy is eating clean. Her popular "Eat-Clean Diet" encourages individuals to drink plenty of water and eat six small meals daily, including a combination of lean protein and complex carbohydrates.More

Grandparents as child care providers
To ease the financial burden of child care, many working parents turn to grandparents. Using grandparents as child care providers can be a win-win arrangement. Parents know that their children are in loving hands, and grandparents reap additional closeness with their grandchildren. Still, grandparents should consider the financial factors as well as other factors before agreeing to a regular child care arrangement.More

Stop stressing these 7 elements of your job search
U.S. News & World Report
Job hunting is stressful, but job seekers often make it more stressful than it needs to be, by agonizing over details that most employers don't care about at all. Here are seven of the most common things that job seekers often stress over — but shouldn't spend any time worrying about.More

It's not just Florida anymore — Retirees find unusual places to call home
The Associated Press via The Republican
The idea of people who uproot and move when they retire conjures up images of warm, sunny Florida or Arizona. But some of the older members of the baby boomer generation, the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, are looking elsewhere, and a number of towns in cooler climates from Maine to Washington have become popular retirement destinations.More

10 money-saving cruise tips
Cruising can be an affordable vacation option — if you know how to avoid getting nickeled-and-dimed aboard the ship. From bringing your own wine to using the ship's laundry services, here are 10 expert ways to save money on a cruise. More

Consumer Reports study finds concerning levels of arsenic in rice
The Associated Press via CBS News
A new study from Consumer Reports claims samples of white rice, brown rice and rice breakfast cereals that many U.S. adults and children eat may contain worrisome levels of arsenic. The magazine tested more than 200 samples of rice products — including popular brands, store brands and even organic ones — and found measurable amounts of arsenic in "virtually every product tested."More