OPEN SEASON CHANGES ALLOWED

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The months of November and December present several financial opportunities for Mail Handlers.

First, the Federal Health Benefits Open Season provides an opportunity for career mail handlers to make any necessary changes to their health insurance coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). The USPS has made Consumers’ Checkbook Guide to Health Plans available to all Postal employees at no charge. You may access the Consumers’ Checkbook FEHB Plan comparison tool through Liteblue. Checkbook’s Guide summarizes thousands of facts about the plans to simplify your choice, and it’s free to you as a Postal employee. FEHB plan information will be uploaded and available on Consumers’ Checkbook® site on November 14, 2016.

Mail Handler Assistants are also eligible for health insurance; coverage is available under the USPS Non-Career Health Benefits Plan. Coverage is subsidized by the Postal Service through an employer contribution of $125 per pay period. The FEHBP Open Season period is scheduled for November 14 through December 12, 2016. Also, currently available to all FEHBP eligible Mail Handlers, as well as all other federal and career postal employees, are supplemental dental and vision insurance programs offered through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).

Second, Flexible Spending Accountsallow career employees to set aside a portion of their pre-tax earnings for certain types of out-of-pocket health care expenses and dependent care expenses that may be incurred during the next year.

The amount of money you put into an FSA is entirely up to you. Be advised, however, that you must utilize the majority of the funds in your FSA, or you could lose that money under newly adopted rules. The previous two-and-a-half month grace period to spend unused FSA funds will be replaced with a $500 carryover of unused funds to the next year for the Health Care FSA. Any unused balance above $500 will be forfeited at the end of the calendar year.  Also, be aware that employees will enroll directly with FSAFEDS, rather than through PostalEASE as they do currently. Enrollment can be done either online or by phone, similar to how employees currently enroll in Federal Employee Dental and Vision Program (FEDVIP). Visit https://www.fsafeds.com/ or call 877-FSAFEDS (372-3337) or TTY: 866-353-8058 for additional enrollment details.

Third, eligible career employees may use the Annual Leave Exchange Option to receive a lump-sum payment in their paychecks in early January 2017 in exchange for a portion of the annual leave that otherwise would be advanced to them at the beginning of the 2017 leave year.

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