- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Unused sick leave which federal workers lose upon retirement could become valuable if Congress extends a special perk to Department of Veterans Affairs nurses.

The Senate is considering, and likely will pass, legislation that would allow the hard-to-hire, harder-to-keep VA nurses to apply unused sick leave toward retirement.

Employees with big balances could boost their lifetime annuities 3 percent if they have a year's worth of sick leave and as much as 6 percent if they have two years' equivalent of leave. Since annuities are indexed to inflation, that's a financial boost that gets better thanks to compounding every year.

Under current law, most federal workers, who are under the Federal Employees Retirement System, don't get any credit for unused sick leave. The dwindling number of federal workers (mostly people hired before 1984) under the old Civil Service Retirement System can apply unused sick leave toward retirement.

If VA nurses get it, then Congress will be under tremendous pressure to extend it to all employees under the FERS.

Security screeners

Look for a decision, maybe as early as this week, on the pay and perks status of the 28,000 people who will be hired as security screeners at the nation's airports.

Congress decided to federalize the operation and officials at the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies have been working on their PDs (position descriptions).

Unlike contract screeners many of whom can't speak English and aren't citizens the federal workers must all be citizens and able to speak, read and give and take complex orders in English as well as understand complicated documents.

"It will take a certain type of person," a federal official said. "Somebody who can remain alert doing mostly routine, boring chores but who can spot something out of order, and act quickly, when the time arises."

He said the work will be "similar to looking for dents in a tin can on an assembly line except a lot more important."

Big responsibility

Uncle Sam is also looking for federal security directors ($104,000 to $150,000 per year) to run security operations at all of the nation's biggest airports. "It will be like being the cornerback in professional football," a security specialist said. "Nobody will pay any attention to you until something goes wrong."

For screener jobs, you can call (866/404-1227). On the internet go to https://jobs.faa.gov/SecurityScreeningPersonnel.htm

The few, the employed, the healthy

Early registration for the Federal Family Long Term Care Insurance program will run from March 25 to May 15. The regular open season will be held July 1 through Dec. 31 after an extensive education campaign.

Politicians promised that the LTC program would cover virtually all 20 million members of the extended federal-military family, and at rates 15 percent to 20 percent below non-group policies. But politicians aren't actuaries, they don't run insurance companies and most who did the promising have moved on to other jobs.

In reality, it will be tough for older people especially retirees and spouses to get coverage under the federal program. And some family members who assumed they could piggyback into the program won't be considered.

Federal workers and retirees who were hoping that they could qualify for coverage under the federal LTC plan, by transferring from private LTC insurance, are out of luck. The government won't allow it.

To keep up on the latest in the LTC program, click on: https://www.opm-/gov/insure/ltc/index.htm

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide