NARFE NewsWatch
Jan. 21, 2014

Consolidated appropriations clears Congress, president signs
Congress was both bipartisan and functional last week. Using the Ryan-Murray budget numbers enacted in December, the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly for a $1 trillion consolidated appropriations bill, H.R. 3547, to fund the federal government through the balance of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. As reported by The Washington Post, the bill "eases sharp budget cuts known as the sequester." It all but ensures no federal employee furloughs in fiscal year 2014, and provides a 1 percent pay raise for General Schedule and Wage Grade employees. The president signed the massive measure into law on Jan. 17. Both chambers are in recess this week. The debt ceiling looms and will be reached this week.More

Calculating tax-exempt portion of annuity
Question: Will the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) calculate the tax-free portion of my annuity and include the information on my 1099-R? I don't understand why this is referred to as tax-free money. More

Obama signs $1.1 trillion government spending bill
President Barack Obama signed into law a $1.1 trillion spending bill that will fund the government through the end of September. The massive bipartisan legislation broke years of forced budget cuts and constant fights over funding in Congress.More

Which lawmakers are fed-friendly on Capitol Hill?
Federal News Radio
The House's vote to pass the budget deal is the the first good news many federal employees have had in three years — the bill fully funds President Barack Obama's 1 percent pay increase. It's also the first of many votes in this session of Congress that will impact voting records. Janet Kopenhaver is the Washington representative for Federally Employed Women, which released it annual scorecard that shows which legislators are fighting for the federal workforce. More

Report: Boosting military retiree health costs would save billions
Government Executive
Raising TRICARE costs for retirees is the most effective way to curb rapidly increasing military health care expenses at the Defense Department, according to a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. Funding for military health care jumped by 130 percent between 2000 and 2012, thanks primarily to legislative efforts to expand coverage to cover all out-of-pocket costs for Medicare-eligible retirees and a dramatic increase in the number of active and former military personnel who enroll in the coverage. More

How many people at your agency are retirement-eligible?
Federal Times
For all the talk of a looming "retirement tsumani” throughout the federal workforce, the picture is actually a lot more nuanced. Some agencies–or agency components–have a ratio of retirement-eligibles well above the government-wide average of about 14 percent; some are way below, according to data provided by the Office of Personnel Management. So where does your current, or former, agency stand?More

Understanding how 'systematic withdrawals' affect retirement
Financial planners and writers will often tell you something along these lines: If you invest in a portfolio balanced between stocks and bonds, withdraw four percent each year for retirement income and give yourself an annual raise to account for inflation, there's a roughly 90 percent chance that your money will last for at least 30 years. Hence, the justification for the so-called four percent rule. More

Healthy eating strategies: 10 snacks that 'don't count'
News Sentinel
The only way to embrace a diet, to make it part of your life rather than some draconian edict imposed by your unrealistic inner nag, is to carve out space between the rules where you can be yourself.More

10 strategies for packing light
The Boston Globe
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright write, "'Pack light' is our mantra, and here's why: You lose the independence of hopping onto a different flight if you've checked a bag through. You look like a tourist (and an attractive target to pickpockets) if you're loaded down with bags. You lose valuable time waiting for the luggage to arrive on the carousel. And it will cost you money. Last year, the airlines collected $3.5 billion in baggage fees. Not to mention, airlines lose bags, temporarily in most cases, but it's still a huge inconvenience."More

7 ways to prove your value at work after 50
Next Avenue
There is an old joke that says the closest most people come to perfection is on an employment application. Even if that's true, career professionals who’ve recently turned 50 might be the next best example of perfection — at least when it comes to job productivity.More

Phone scam targets wireless users
There is a new phone scam making its rounds, targeting cell phone users. The Better Business Bureau is putting out an alert warning of a new scam that can result in unauthorized charges to your wireless bill.More