5 questions you need to ask yourself right now

This week, the National Institutes of Health announced that a phase three trial had started testing a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by biotechnology company Moderna Inc. and NIH. Moderna has said it is on track to deliver up to 1 billion doses per year starting in 2021. This potentially promising development is welcome, because otherwise the news of COVID-19 has been grim of late.

According to the CDC, more than 4.4 million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the epidemic. Since the start of the pandemic, almost 1 percent of federal employees have tested positive. Nearly 19,000 civilian employees have contracted COVID-19, in addition to more than 20,000 military personnel. Since June 16, the Federal Employee Compensation Division had received 2,866 COVID-19 claims, including 48 death claims.

We can all hope that the end of the pandemic is not so far away. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to assess your preparedness in case you are affected by COVID-19. Here are five questions every federal employee should be able to answer “yes” to. If your answer to any of these is “no” then you have homework to do. I have included links to resources to help you do this.

Do you know how long you could continue to be financially secure if you were diagnosed with a critical illness?

Federal employees accumulate 104 hours of sick leave each year. Over 10 years, that adds up to six months of paid vacation. Of course, you may have used part of this leave for your own illness or to take care of a family member. How long would your current sick leave (and annual leave) balance last if you weren’t able to work for an extended period?

The practice Geico Leave a file is a good way to calculate how long your leave will last. (Be sure to include the time off that you will earn by using your time off.) You can contact your human resources office to find out if your agency has a leave transfer program or a bank of voluntary leave to help you if your leave runs out.

How much do you have in cash? Cash reserves can support you if you need to go on unpaid leave. the CARES Law passed in March made federal employee savings plan funds more accessible through liberalized loan and withdrawal programs for those affected by COVID-19. Separated employees who are subject to the minimum required distributions do not have to take them in 2020 and can repay the money already received this year by August 31.

Do you know what your dependents would be entitled to if something happened to you?

Are your beneficiary designation forms up to date?

The Bureau of Personnel Management has information on death benefit in service for employees CSRS and IRONS employees. Your spouse and dependent children may be entitled to recurring survivor benefits. Social Security provides benefits to your dependent children, your spouse aged 60 or over, or your spouse at any age if they are looking after your dependent children.

If your illness or death was work-related, benefits are payable to your family through the Federal Employee Compensation Division at the Workmen’s Compensation Office of the Department of Labor. In order to claim compensation related to COVID-19, according to the office, federal employees “are required to have frequent in-person and close proximity interactions with the public, such as law enforcement officials, the first responders and first responders. -line medical and public health personnel.

Have you stayed the course with your retirement savings despite the volatility of the stock markets this year?

It was an unprecedented year for the market, to say the least. After one of the worst first quarters ever for US stocks, the second trimester was one of best in decades. At the end of March, fund C was down 19.65%, fund S was down 28.14% and fund I was down 22.7%. If you had invested $ 500,000 on December 31, 2019 in the 50% TSP in Fund C, 30% in Fund S and 20% in Fund I, your balance on March 31 would have decreased by $ 114,043 to 385,957 $.

If you had then transferred everything to Fund G, your balance would have reached $ 388,740 as of June 30. 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 $ 472,270.

Do you have an investment strategy for retirement?

To develop a good strategy for your retirement savings, it is important to understand your ability to withstand market volatility and how you manage risk. This is usually determined by several factors, including your age, income, and how long you have until retirement. In general, the younger you are, the more risk you can take.

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 just let the The 10 life cycles of the TSP funds do the diversification and rebalancing for them.

Do you know the current value of your life insurance?

OPM has a FEGLI online calculator this makes it easy to calculate the premiums for the different cover combinations. The calculator will also allow you to see how deferred retirement life insurance will develop over time. You may want to check your pay stub or the code FEGLI on a Notification of personnel measure (SF 50) form to find out the actual amount of FEGLI coverage you currently have.

FEGLI also offers a subsistence benefit which applies if you are diagnosed as terminally ill with a life expectancy of nine months or less, and you have not surrendered your insurance. the FEGLI Manual contains details about this and other important insurance information.

If you need additional life insurance and are insurable, you may want to consider a term insurance policy with level payments that could be cheaper than FEGLI Option B. Option B provides insurance amounts valued in multiples of your base pay rate, but premiums increase every five years as you get older. Be sure to consider that FEGLI will pay your beneficiary regardless of the cause of your death, unless your beneficiary intentionally caused your death.

It is generally a good idea to maintain basic FEGLI coverage while you are a federal employee as you receive a government contribution to the premium and the amount of insurance increases with each increase in salary during your career.

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