NARFE NewsWatch
Dec. 20, 2011

Uncertainty remains about federal pay, benefits in payroll tax cut bill
The House is scheduled to vote Dec. 20 on how it will proceed with a Senate-passed bill to extend the payroll tax cut expiring at the end of this year. If Congress does not pass the tax cut extension, the payroll tax would rise 2 percentage points on Jan. 1. More

CBO: Job cut plan could have less impact than advertised
The Washington Post
Legislation that has cleared a key House committee to cut federal jobs could have a substantially smaller impact than has been touted by both its sponsors and its critics, according to a congressional analysis. The Congressional Budget Office on Dec. 15 released a cost estimate of a bill that in November passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee seeking to reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent, mainly through attrition.More

TSP participation declining
Government Executive
The rate of federal employee participation in the 401(k)-like Thrift Savings Plan is "softening," according to new data from the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. TSP participation was at 85.4 percent in October, before showing a slight dip to 85.2 in November. The decline marked a "trend that appears to be continuing," said Renee Wilder, the board's director of research and strategic planning. More

Why does it take so long to process federal employee retirement applications?
FedSmith has recently published articles, and hundreds of comments from readers, about how long it takes for those retiring from the federal government to have retirement applications processed by the Office of Personnel Management and for the payments of federal retirees to be fully completed. Many readers who are retired indicate it takes a very long time for their payments to get straightened out. Perhaps it is coincidental, but OPM has just issued an announcement of upcoming training on speeding up the processing of retirement applications. The purpose of the training: to eliminate errors in the retirement applications.More

Some holiday foods are nutritious and low in calories
USA Today
The holidays don't have to be a nutrition nightmare. In fact, many popular appetizers and even some desserts are low in calories and pack a powerful nutrient punch, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, a nutrition blogger and author of "Read It Before You Eat It."More

Caring and caregiving during the holidays: 6 considerations for families of Alzheimer's or dementia patients
The Huffington Post
With almost half of all individuals over the age of 85 suffering from Alzheimer's disease, it's likely that you'll be coming into contact with someone suffering from this or another dementia this holiday season. Whether your loved one is a relative or family friend, you're probably wondering what to expect — and how to act — during your time together. The good news is, you can take steps that create the best odds for an enjoyable experience. Here are six things to keep in mind if you'll be visiting someone with Alzheimer's or dementia in this holiday season.More

10 things to consider before becoming a full-time entrepreneur
U.S. News & World Report
The very idea of leaving the cube behind to become a full-time entrepreneur can be exciting. But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and while entrepreneurship has its benefits, there are many things fledgling entrepreneurs should consider before deciding to go it alone. If the lure of "firing your boss" is calling you, here are 10 things to ponder before you make the leap to full-time entrepreneurship.More

Those with jobs are working later in life
Are older workers really faring better in this recession-wracked job market? Just 7 percent of workers over age 55 were jobless in October 2011, compared with a 9 percent national average, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently. That's a sizable gap, and it's been roughly that size throughout the recession. The health of the employment market for older workers is a critical factor in the future economic security of seniors, since job loss in later life can wreck even the best-laid retirement plan.More

10 tips to prevent lost luggage
It is the "silly season" for travel plans. You're stressed, your extended family is stressed, and baggage handlers and Transportation Security Administration agents are definitely stressed because of holiday crowds. More than 6 million people flew on commercial airliners in 2010, and statistics show that 1 in 150 of those people reported lost or misdirected luggage. MainStreet talked to the travel experts, who shared 10 essential tips to help you keep tabs on your luggage during this busy holiday season.More

Slideshow: Safest cars for 2012
CBS News
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety released its list of winners for 2012 — all 115 of them, a record. To get that top rating, a car, van or SUV must stand up to crash tests simulating front, side, rear and rollover accidents. The rollover standard has proven especially difficult for many models in the past. More

COLA for Dec. 31 retiree?
Question: I will retire on Dec. 31. Will I qualify for the January cost-of-living increase for Civil Service Retirement System retirees?More

Registration opens for NARFE 2012 National Convention
Registration forms for NARFE's 32nd Biennial Convention, Aug. 26-30, are included in the January issue of NARFE magazine; online registration opens in January. The convention hotel is John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort in Reno-Sparks, Nev. The theme of the gathering is "NARFE: Our Best Bet for the Future." NARFE National President Joseph A. Beaudoin predicts the 2012 National Convention will be one of the most important in the history of the Association, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2011. "Our upcoming convention should prove a pivotal one for us, as the Association and the federal family continue to face daunting challenges," Beaudoin says. "But I look forward to what I know will be a productive convention as we continue the legacy of our founders." Beginning in January, the NARFE website will feature content devoted to the convention.More