NARFE NewsWatch
Oct. 20, 2015

No COLA means big increase in Medicare Part B premiums for retired feds: NARFE urges members to take action!
NARFE's prediction that there would be no 2016 cost-of-living adjustment for federal retirees, military retirees and Social Security beneficiaries was confirmed last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, those who pay their Medicare Part B premiums out of their Civil Service Retirement System annuity are facing a whopping 52 percent increase in their premiums. The "hold harmless" provision in the Social Security Act states that the dollar increase in the Part B premium is limited to the dollar increase in an individual's Social Security benefit. With no COLA, an estimated 70 percent of beneficiaries will be held harmless, meaning, for most, their Part B premium will remain stable at $104.90. This leaves 30 percent of beneficiaries, including CSRS retirees who do not receive Social Security benefits, to shoulder the full cost of the 2016 premium increase, resulting in a projected premium increase of 52 percent, from $104.90 to $159.30 per month. If that wasn’t bad enough, FEHBP premiums also are increasing more than 7 percent for enrollees.

Legislation has been introduced to guarantee that all Medicare beneficiaries pay the same Part B premiums in 2016 that they paid in 2015, but Congress must hear from you! Tell your members of Congress that you shouldn’t have to pay more in Medicare premiums just because your premiums don’t come from Social Security.

Help protect federal retirees! Send an email now or call the Capitol Switchboard, toll-free, at 1-866-220-0044 to tell Congress to take action on H.R. 3696 and S. 2148 to make sure that everyone is held harmless in 2016. More

Health benefits
Question: My husband and I are planning to retire and want to know the requirement for adding a spouse to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. I have Self Only coverage as a federal employee, and my spouse's coverage under a union plan will end when he retires.More

Seniors stung by no Social Security bump
U.S. News & World Report
It might be a good time to check in on Grandma. That's because she and millions of other older Americans just missed out on a boost to Social Security benefits that would've helped blunt the rising costs connected to their everyday lives. And they also might be dependent on a fractured Congress to step in before their Medicare premiums soon skyrocket.More

Millions could see their Medicare costs soar
CBS News
Video of NARFE Legislative Director Jessica Klement's interview on CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.More

Lankford bill gives fraud protection to retirement benefits
The Washington Post
Retirement benefits, unlike Social Security and veterans benefits, don't have legislation in place that protects against fraud. A bill sponsored by Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., aims to correct that. Lankford, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, told In Depth with Francis Rose his bill would impose clear penalties against financial caretakers who defraud a federal retiree.More

Study underscores importance of keeping job
While many older employees look to switch jobs rather than enter into full retirement from their current employer — a common desire among federal workers, as well — a study has warned of the difficulty of getting new employment at a relatively advanced age for the workforce. A report by the Center for Retirement Research suggests that older workers should not leave a current employer and then look for a job, but rather should have another job firmly in hand before leaving.More

States seek a bigger piece of the federal pie
Five hundred fifty billion dollars of federal money makes up about one-third of state budgets. Some states are better than others when it comes to grabbing that money.More

13 steps to hiring a contractor who won't rip you off
With the economy stabilized and home prices rising in much of the U.S. market, homeowners who spent the recession watching home remodeling on TV may now be ready to do some real-life work on their homes. That can mean wading into a world both alien and expensive. The contractor you hire will make all the difference to the success and affordability of your project.More

Do we really need to sleep 7 hours a night?
The New York Times
For years, public health authorities have warned that smartphones, television screens and the hectic pace of modern life are disrupting natural sleep patterns, fueling an epidemic of sleep deprivation. By some estimates, Americans sleep two to three hours fewer today than they did before the industrial revolution. But now a new study is challenging that notion. It found that Americans on average sleep as much as people in three different hunter-gatherer societies where there is no electricity and the lifestyles have remained largely the same for thousands of years. More

The virus that ruins Caribbean vacations
The Washington Post
On a trip to the Caribbean, you wake with a fever and achy, swollen joints that you can't blame on too many piña coladas. You might suffer from a headache, muscle pain, nausea or a rash. All you want to do is crawl back into your hotel bed and hide in your hermit shell. Based on your symptoms, you can rule out heat stroke and hangover. A more likely diagnosis: the chikungunya virus.More

4 ways to figure out what you're good at
Business Insider
It's a universal dream to do what we're passionate about. The only problem with this aspiration is that sometimes the thing we most care about isn't what we do best. As Gloria Steinem famously said, "We teach what we need to learn, and write what we need to know." This doesn't mean your dream is dead. It just means that you need to figure out how to bring that dream to fruition — using the skills you currently possess.More

How to slash your heating bills this winter
Falling energy prices may have the global economy in upheaval, but they’re great news for homeowners. Lower energy costs and a forecast for a warmer winter in most of the country will mean big savings on your heating bill this winter. The U.S. Energy Information Institute expects that U.S. homes that use oil heat will pay 25 percent less to heat their homes this winter, propane heat users will pay 18 percent less, and those who use natural gas will pay 10 percent less.More