Government Shutdown Frequently Asked Questions

NARFE continues to update frequently asked questions relating to the government shutdown. The following have been provided by NARFE’s federal benefits experts and sourced from multiple outlets including: The Washington Post, Government Executive, The New York Times, USA Today and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

General Shutdown FAQs

Active Federal Employee FAQs

Federal Annuitants and Retirees FAQs

Benefits FAQs


General Shutdown FAQs

How many federal employees are currently being forced to work without pay or furloughed?

More than 420,000 “excepted” (“essential”) federal workers are being forced to work without pay while another 380,000 federal workers are furloughed and at home with no pay.

Which federal departments are currently open? Which are closed?

The agencies of the departments of Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Veterans Affairs are currently open, as fiscal year 2019 appropriations for these agencies have been passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. The agencies of the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation, and Treasury are currently closed or operating in a limited capacity.

How does a shutdown end?

It's up to Congress and the White House. No doubt there will be plenty of pressure from the public and workforce. There is no law setting a time limit.

Will I still get my mail?

Yes. The U.S. Postal Service functions as an independent business unit.

 

Active Federal Employee FAQs

Will OPM extend the 90-day time period for submitting Executive Core Qualification (ECQ) packages for Qualifications Review Board certification?  

Yes, OPM will provide an extension if the vacancy announcement closed prior to the shutdown for the number of business days of the shutdown (22 business days). If the announcement closed or your submission was due to OPM during the shutdown, please reach out to SERS@opm.gov to confirm the appropriate extension period.

Can agencies affected by the shutdown make SL/ST performance-based pay adjustments now that the first pay period of the year has passed?

Yes, SL/ST performance-based pay adjustments can be approved and generally will be made effective, subject to agency policy and procedures (e.g., the first day of the first pay period beginning on or after the date of approval).  An agency may provide off-cycle payments in accordance with 5 CFR 534.510, as appropriate.   

Does time in a furlough status due to a shutdown count toward time-in-grade requirements for promotion purposes?

Yes, time spent in a furlough status counts towards time-in-grade requirements for purposes of promotion.

Does the lapse have an impact on completion of requirements for career tenure?

No, the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 placed furloughed employees, retroactively, into a pay status for the shutdown period, meaning the shutdown had no impact on completion of requirements for career tenure.  Similarly, any future shutdown will have no impact as long as the legislation remains in effect.

How should agencies handle career ladder promotions that were due to go into effect during shutdown?

A promotion may not be retroactively authorized absent a specific agency policy or lawful collective bargaining agreement on setting promotion effective dates.  However, if an HR office was prevented from processing an authorized career ladder promotion due to the shutdown, the HR office is required to process it retroactively to honor the effective date.

May an employee retain compensatory time off earned in lieu of overtime pay that expired during the shutdown?

For Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA)-nonexempt employees if, for any reason, earned compensatory time off is not taken within 26 pay periods during which it was earned, the employee must be paid for overtime work.  
For FLSA-exempt employees, if an agency determines the shutdown prevented the employee from using the compensatory time off that would otherwise be forfeited, the agency must provide payment for the unused compensatory time off.

How does the lapse in appropriations affect General Schedule (GS) within-grade increases?

All furlough hours for which retroactive pay is received are treated as time in a pay status for GS within-grade increase waiting periods.  Following completion of the required waiting period and in compliance with the conditions of eligibility, a within-grade increase is effective on the first day of the first pay period.  The agency must make the within-grade increase retroactive to the applicable date provided other eligibility conditions were met if a furloughed employee’s within-grade increase would have been effective during the shutdown.

Has the partial government shutdown affected the federal pay freeze or the proposed federal pay raise?


While both the House and Senate approved a 1.9 percent average federal pay raise, legislation including the raise has not reached the President desk. As such, the President had the authority to freeze federal pay, which he did. NARFE remains optimistic that legislation funding the government for the remainder of FY19 will include a pay raise and override the President’s freeze.  

Who is "excepted" (essential) and who is not?

That's up to individual agencies. The federal government is required by law to maintain functions that:
•    provide for the national security, including the conduct of foreign relations;
•    provide for benefit payments and the performance of contract obligations under no-year or multi-year contracts; and
•    protect life and property.

Who decides?

Federal managers must review which of their employees would be excepted and required to come to work, and which would be non-excepted and sent home during a shutdown.

Will I be paid?

Excepted and furloughed employees will receive back pay at their standard rate of pay. Excepted and furloughed employees will also receive credit for annual and sick leave accrued during the period of the shutdown. Retirement deductions will not be made if you are in a nonpay status.

How are congressional staff affected?

Congressional staff are unaffected by the partial government shutdown as the legislative branch received full year funding for fiscal year 2019.

Will active-duty military be furloughed?

No. All active-duty military are essential.

What if I'm a government contractor?
   
How a government shutdown affects contractors is a mixed bag. Companies will essentially have to find out as they go.

If I’m furloughed, why can’t I take leave?

This would violate the Antideficiency Act. Employees cannot substitute paid leave for furlough time because the requirement to furlough supersedes leave and other paid time off rights.

What if I'm deemed “excepted” (“essential”), but get sick?


If you become too sick to work during a shutdown, you would face the same uncertainty over your pay for the time off work as those who are furloughed.

Will leave I scheduled during the government shutdown be charged?

Any leave previously scheduled during the period of the government shutdown has been cancelled and you will not be charged leave.

What happens to my “use-or-lose” annual leave that I was not able to use due to the shutdown?

This leave must be restored to you and your agency will provide instructions on any action needed.

I am a furloughed employee; will I accrue annual and sick leave during the shutdown?

Under current law, after you have been in a non-pay status for 80 hours, you will stop accruing annual and sick leave. Congress, however, may authorize retroactive accrual of leave.

I am an excepted employee; will I accrue annual and sick leave during the shutdown?

You will continue to accrue leave, but will not be able to use accrued leave until funding is restored to your agency.

I am an excepted employee; will I be reimbursed for my out-of-pocket transit benefit expenses?

You may be eligible to file an SF Form 1164 reimbursable claim through your agency. Contact your agency Transit Benefit point of contact for filing instructions.

Can I telework?

OPM has strongly encouraged agencies to be as accommodating as possible for excepted employees during the period of the shutdown. Contact your agency to see if you are eligible for telework, requesting time off based on personal circumstances, or utilize a flexible work schedule.

What happens if I don’t report to work when required?

Excepted employees who do not return to work are considered absent without leave (AWOL). Agencies decide the consequences for an AWOL employee.

During an extended shutdown, will states waive the requirement that a federal employee must be actively searching for other employment in order to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits?

States may waive eligibility requirements based on circumstances, such as an extended government shutdown.

To date, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia will waive the requirement for federal employees to look for work in order to receive unemployment compensation.   

Where can an employee file a claim for unemployment benefits?

Employees should file a claim in the state of their last official duty station.  

If a claimant’s last official station was not within one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands, the claimant’s federal civilian service and wages will be assigned to the state they reside in at the they file their claim.

If an employee doesn’t have access to their most recent SF-50 during the furlough, will other forms of documentation be accepted in order to file an Unemployment Insurance claim?

Yes, states will accept other documentation, such as Leave and Earnings Statements and a W-2 form.  

Are excepted employees eligible to unemployment compensation?

Excepted employees working full-time are generally not eligible for unemployment compensation. However, excepted employees working part-time or an intermittent basis may be eligible.

Once retroactive pay is granted, how will employees go about repaying unemployment insurance benefits received?  

Employees must repay the unemployment insurance benefits as directed by their state unemployment office.

 

Federal Annuitants and Retirees FAQs

Will cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for CSRS and FERS retirees be implemented during the shutdown?

Yes, COLAs are unaffected by the partial government shutdown.

If I'm a retired federal worker, will I still get my check?

For millions of federal retirees who may be concerned about their annuity checks, which arrive on the first day of each month, those payments will continue as normal.

Federal retirement payments, such as Social Security benefits, fall under the "mandatory" budget category not funded through annual appropriations, and are not affected by these kinds of funding deadlocks. According to the OPM document, federal retirees "will still receive their scheduled annuity payments on the first business day of the month."

Will seniors continue to get Social Security benefits?

Yes. Social Security is a mandatory spending program, and the people who send those checks would continue to work under a legal doctrine called "necessary implication."

Who can I contact with issues regarding services provided to federal retirees, such as issues with missed payments or questions?

OPM’s Retirement Services division is not affected by the shutdown and is available to answer your questions at 888-767-6738.

I retired during the shutdown. Am I actually retired?

If the retirement application as submitted to the agency with a retirement date that has passed, then YES, you are retired.

Has my paperwork been processed?

That depends. If your payroll department is furloughed, processing may be delayed.

Will I need to return to work after the shutdown?

Retired federal employees should not have to return to work at all. They are no longer federal employees. They are federal retirees who are waiting on their agency and OPM to finish processing their retirement. When the shutdown ends and everyone else returns to work, if the agency needs anything else from the separated retiree, they will contact them directly.

When will I receive my first annuity payment?

The first annuity payment usually occurs within 2 to 4 weeks after OPM receives a healthy retirement application package from the agency’s payroll office. A healthy retirement application package is one that includes everything OPM needs to properly and accurately adjudicate the individual’s retirement. Annuity payments cannot be issued before OPM can review and approve the retirement application package.

Will my pension be negatively affected because I retired during a furlough?

Your pension should not be negatively affected with regard to the computation, since furloughs usually do not last more than 6 months in any calendar year. Employees who spend less than 6 months in leave without pay (LWOP) or non-pay status still receive credit for the actual service, and the salary rates are still used to compute their high-3 average salary even if they end up not receiving salary retroactively.

 

Benefits FAQs


What's the status of employee benefits?

Coverage under the federal employee health insurance program will continue, with the employees' share accumulating until they return to paid status. Coverage under the life insurance program also continues, without cost to the employee. For the long-term care and vision/dental insurance programs, enrollees must continue to pay the premiums; those paying through payroll deduction will be billed directly if the unpaid period lasts a number of weeks.

Will I continue to receive health insurance coverage?

Enrollment in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) continues for up to a year in a nonpay status. The effective date of new enrollments was still the first day of the first full pay period in January for employees.

What about other benefits?

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program coverage continues for a year. Flexible spending account (FSAFEDS) costs will not be reimbursed. Coverage under the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program continues as long as premiums are paid.

Will changes to my health insurance coverage made during the shutdown be processed?

Any potential plan changes (if applicable) may be delayed until the changes can be processed by OPM upon their return to work. Once any applicable FEHB changes are made for employees, they will be made retroactive to January 6, 2019.

If my FEHB or FEGLI changes have not yet been processed but I need medical service, what should I do?

For employees who didn’t make any changes to their plans, they can continue to use their health insurance as normal. But for those who made changes, until the agency can process the changes, those employees may need to pay out of pocket for any expenses they might incur.’

If necessary, we recommend employees who made FEHB changes call their new carriers even though the new plan hasn’t received their enrollment change yet. You can verify whether or not the doctor, hospital or medical service that they are seeking is going to be covered by the new plan so they can easily be reimbursed once the new plan receives their enrollment change from the agency.

If I set up a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) during open season, can I use it for medical expenses?

If an employee set up a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) during the open season, we would recommend avoid incurring any unnecessary medical expenses during the shutdown because the expense usually doesn’t qualify for reimbursement if it was incurred while in a non-pay status.

If I set up a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) during open season, can I use it for eligible dependent care expenses?

If an employee set up a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) during the recent open season, eligible dependent care expenses incurred while in a non-pay status may be reimbursed up to whatever balance that eventually ends up in the employee’s account, as long as the expense incurred allowed the employee to attend school full time or allowed the employee’s spouse to work. It’s unlikely that the employee was working or looking for work while in a non-pay status, but it’s possible, so the expense would also qualify if that were the case.

How does a shutdown affect my TSP account?

If you are in nonpay status for one or more full pay periods, you will not be contributing to your TSP account during that time. You may make inter-fund transfers. You can make an in-service withdrawal. For information on the effect of a furlough on your Thrift Savings Plan contributions, loans, and investments, please refer to https://www.tsp.gov/index.html

Will my Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) coverage continue?

Your coverage will continue.  If the lapse period is less than three consecutive pay periods, your premiums will accumulate and be withheld later when the lapse ends.  Following three missed pay periods, Long Term Care Partners will begin to bill you directly for premium payments which must be paid on a timely basis in order to continue your coverage.  

Will my Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) coverage continue?

Your coverage will continue.  If the lapse period is less than three consecutive pay periods, your premiums will accumulate and be withheld later when the lapse ends.  Following three missed pay periods, BENEFEDS will begin to bill you directly for premium payments which must be paid on a timely basis in order to continue your coverage.  

Do new enrollments or changes in enrollment due to a Qualifying Life Event take effect while in a non-pay status?

Generally, no, new enrollments or changes in enrollment due to a Qualifying Life Event do not take effect until the employee is back in pay status. The exception is for a new enrollment or change in enrollment due to the birth or addition of a child, which is effective on the first day of the pay period in which the child is born or becomes an eligible family member regardless of pay status.


If your question was not covered here, please consult the OPM Shutdown Guidance.

National Active and Retired

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES Association

NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association) 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314, Phone: (703) 838-7760, Fax: (703) 838-7785.

 

This is the only website that reflects the official opinions and positions of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). Opinions and/or positions that appear on any other site bearing NARFE's name or seal are not necessarily those of NARFE. Click here for Privacy Statement.   NARFE has been certified by Dun & Bradstreet.

Government Shutdown Frequently Asked Questions

NARFE continues to update frequently asked questions relating to the government shutdown. The following have been provided by NARFE’s federal benefits experts and sourced from multiple outlets including: The Washington Post, Government Executive, The New York Times, USA Today and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

General Shutdown FAQs

Active Federal Employee FAQs

Federal Annuitants and Retirees FAQs

Benefits FAQs


General Shutdown FAQs

How many federal employees are currently being forced to work without pay or furloughed?

More than 420,000 “excepted” (“essential”) federal workers are being forced to work without pay while another 380,000 federal workers are furloughed and at home with no pay.

Which federal departments are currently open? Which are closed?

The agencies of the departments of Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Veterans Affairs are currently open, as fiscal year 2019 appropriations for these agencies have been passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. The agencies of the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation, and Treasury are currently closed or operating in a limited capacity.

How does a shutdown end?

It's up to Congress and the White House. No doubt there will be plenty of pressure from the public and workforce. There is no law setting a time limit.

Will I still get my mail?

Yes. The U.S. Postal Service functions as an independent business unit.

 

Active Federal Employee FAQs

Will OPM extend the 90-day time period for submitting Executive Core Qualification (ECQ) packages for Qualifications Review Board certification?  

Yes, OPM will provide an extension if the vacancy announcement closed prior to the shutdown for the number of business days of the shutdown (22 business days). If the announcement closed or your submission was due to OPM during the shutdown, please reach out to SERS@opm.gov to confirm the appropriate extension period.

Can agencies affected by the shutdown make SL/ST performance-based pay adjustments now that the first pay period of the year has passed?

Yes, SL/ST performance-based pay adjustments can be approved and generally will be made effective, subject to agency policy and procedures (e.g., the first day of the first pay period beginning on or after the date of approval).  An agency may provide off-cycle payments in accordance with 5 CFR 534.510, as appropriate.   

Does time in a furlough status due to a shutdown count toward time-in-grade requirements for promotion purposes?

Yes, time spent in a furlough status counts towards time-in-grade requirements for purposes of promotion.

Does the lapse have an impact on completion of requirements for career tenure?

No, the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019 placed furloughed employees, retroactively, into a pay status for the shutdown period, meaning the shutdown had no impact on completion of requirements for career tenure.  Similarly, any future shutdown will have no impact as long as the legislation remains in effect.

How should agencies handle career ladder promotions that were due to go into effect during shutdown?

A promotion may not be retroactively authorized absent a specific agency policy or lawful collective bargaining agreement on setting promotion effective dates.  However, if an HR office was prevented from processing an authorized career ladder promotion due to the shutdown, the HR office is required to process it retroactively to honor the effective date.

May an employee retain compensatory time off earned in lieu of overtime pay that expired during the shutdown?

For Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA)-nonexempt employees if, for any reason, earned compensatory time off is not taken within 26 pay periods during which it was earned, the employee must be paid for overtime work.  
For FLSA-exempt employees, if an agency determines the shutdown prevented the employee from using the compensatory time off that would otherwise be forfeited, the agency must provide payment for the unused compensatory time off.

How does the lapse in appropriations affect General Schedule (GS) within-grade increases?

All furlough hours for which retroactive pay is received are treated as time in a pay status for GS within-grade increase waiting periods.  Following completion of the required waiting period and in compliance with the conditions of eligibility, a within-grade increase is effective on the first day of the first pay period.  The agency must make the within-grade increase retroactive to the applicable date provided other eligibility conditions were met if a furloughed employee’s within-grade increase would have been effective during the shutdown.

Has the partial government shutdown affected the federal pay freeze or the proposed federal pay raise?


While both the House and Senate approved a 1.9 percent average federal pay raise, legislation including the raise has not reached the President desk. As such, the President had the authority to freeze federal pay, which he did. NARFE remains optimistic that legislation funding the government for the remainder of FY19 will include a pay raise and override the President’s freeze.  

Who is "excepted" (essential) and who is not?

That's up to individual agencies. The federal government is required by law to maintain functions that:
•    provide for the national security, including the conduct of foreign relations;
•    provide for benefit payments and the performance of contract obligations under no-year or multi-year contracts; and
•    protect life and property.

Who decides?

Federal managers must review which of their employees would be excepted and required to come to work, and which would be non-excepted and sent home during a shutdown.

Will I be paid?

Excepted and furloughed employees will receive back pay at their standard rate of pay. Excepted and furloughed employees will also receive credit for annual and sick leave accrued during the period of the shutdown. Retirement deductions will not be made if you are in a nonpay status.

How are congressional staff affected?

Congressional staff are unaffected by the partial government shutdown as the legislative branch received full year funding for fiscal year 2019.

Will active-duty military be furloughed?

No. All active-duty military are essential.

What if I'm a government contractor?
   
How a government shutdown affects contractors is a mixed bag. Companies will essentially have to find out as they go.

If I’m furloughed, why can’t I take leave?

This would violate the Antideficiency Act. Employees cannot substitute paid leave for furlough time because the requirement to furlough supersedes leave and other paid time off rights.

What if I'm deemed “excepted” (“essential”), but get sick?


If you become too sick to work during a shutdown, you would face the same uncertainty over your pay for the time off work as those who are furloughed.

Will leave I scheduled during the government shutdown be charged?

Any leave previously scheduled during the period of the government shutdown has been cancelled and you will not be charged leave.

What happens to my “use-or-lose” annual leave that I was not able to use due to the shutdown?

This leave must be restored to you and your agency will provide instructions on any action needed.

I am a furloughed employee; will I accrue annual and sick leave during the shutdown?

Under current law, after you have been in a non-pay status for 80 hours, you will stop accruing annual and sick leave. Congress, however, may authorize retroactive accrual of leave.

I am an excepted employee; will I accrue annual and sick leave during the shutdown?

You will continue to accrue leave, but will not be able to use accrued leave until funding is restored to your agency.

I am an excepted employee; will I be reimbursed for my out-of-pocket transit benefit expenses?

You may be eligible to file an SF Form 1164 reimbursable claim through your agency. Contact your agency Transit Benefit point of contact for filing instructions.

Can I telework?

OPM has strongly encouraged agencies to be as accommodating as possible for excepted employees during the period of the shutdown. Contact your agency to see if you are eligible for telework, requesting time off based on personal circumstances, or utilize a flexible work schedule.

What happens if I don’t report to work when required?

Excepted employees who do not return to work are considered absent without leave (AWOL). Agencies decide the consequences for an AWOL employee.

During an extended shutdown, will states waive the requirement that a federal employee must be actively searching for other employment in order to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits?

States may waive eligibility requirements based on circumstances, such as an extended government shutdown.

To date, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia will waive the requirement for federal employees to look for work in order to receive unemployment compensation.   

Where can an employee file a claim for unemployment benefits?

Employees should file a claim in the state of their last official duty station.  

If a claimant’s last official station was not within one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands, the claimant’s federal civilian service and wages will be assigned to the state they reside in at the they file their claim.

If an employee doesn’t have access to their most recent SF-50 during the furlough, will other forms of documentation be accepted in order to file an Unemployment Insurance claim?

Yes, states will accept other documentation, such as Leave and Earnings Statements and a W-2 form.  

Are excepted employees eligible to unemployment compensation?

Excepted employees working full-time are generally not eligible for unemployment compensation. However, excepted employees working part-time or an intermittent basis may be eligible.

Once retroactive pay is granted, how will employees go about repaying unemployment insurance benefits received?  

Employees must repay the unemployment insurance benefits as directed by their state unemployment office.

 

Federal Annuitants and Retirees FAQs

Will cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for CSRS and FERS retirees be implemented during the shutdown?

Yes, COLAs are unaffected by the partial government shutdown.

If I'm a retired federal worker, will I still get my check?

For millions of federal retirees who may be concerned about their annuity checks, which arrive on the first day of each month, those payments will continue as normal.

Federal retirement payments, such as Social Security benefits, fall under the "mandatory" budget category not funded through annual appropriations, and are not affected by these kinds of funding deadlocks. According to the OPM document, federal retirees "will still receive their scheduled annuity payments on the first business day of the month."

Will seniors continue to get Social Security benefits?

Yes. Social Security is a mandatory spending program, and the people who send those checks would continue to work under a legal doctrine called "necessary implication."

Who can I contact with issues regarding services provided to federal retirees, such as issues with missed payments or questions?

OPM’s Retirement Services division is not affected by the shutdown and is available to answer your questions at 888-767-6738.

I retired during the shutdown. Am I actually retired?

If the retirement application as submitted to the agency with a retirement date that has passed, then YES, you are retired.

Has my paperwork been processed?

That depends. If your payroll department is furloughed, processing may be delayed.

Will I need to return to work after the shutdown?

Retired federal employees should not have to return to work at all. They are no longer federal employees. They are federal retirees who are waiting on their agency and OPM to finish processing their retirement. When the shutdown ends and everyone else returns to work, if the agency needs anything else from the separated retiree, they will contact them directly.

When will I receive my first annuity payment?

The first annuity payment usually occurs within 2 to 4 weeks after OPM receives a healthy retirement application package from the agency’s payroll office. A healthy retirement application package is one that includes everything OPM needs to properly and accurately adjudicate the individual’s retirement. Annuity payments cannot be issued before OPM can review and approve the retirement application package.

Will my pension be negatively affected because I retired during a furlough?

Your pension should not be negatively affected with regard to the computation, since furloughs usually do not last more than 6 months in any calendar year. Employees who spend less than 6 months in leave without pay (LWOP) or non-pay status still receive credit for the actual service, and the salary rates are still used to compute their high-3 average salary even if they end up not receiving salary retroactively.

 

Benefits FAQs


What's the status of employee benefits?

Coverage under the federal employee health insurance program will continue, with the employees' share accumulating until they return to paid status. Coverage under the life insurance program also continues, without cost to the employee. For the long-term care and vision/dental insurance programs, enrollees must continue to pay the premiums; those paying through payroll deduction will be billed directly if the unpaid period lasts a number of weeks.

Will I continue to receive health insurance coverage?

Enrollment in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) continues for up to a year in a nonpay status. The effective date of new enrollments was still the first day of the first full pay period in January for employees.

What about other benefits?

Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program coverage continues for a year. Flexible spending account (FSAFEDS) costs will not be reimbursed. Coverage under the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program continues as long as premiums are paid.

Will changes to my health insurance coverage made during the shutdown be processed?

Any potential plan changes (if applicable) may be delayed until the changes can be processed by OPM upon their return to work. Once any applicable FEHB changes are made for employees, they will be made retroactive to January 6, 2019.

If my FEHB or FEGLI changes have not yet been processed but I need medical service, what should I do?

For employees who didn’t make any changes to their plans, they can continue to use their health insurance as normal. But for those who made changes, until the agency can process the changes, those employees may need to pay out of pocket for any expenses they might incur.’

If necessary, we recommend employees who made FEHB changes call their new carriers even though the new plan hasn’t received their enrollment change yet. You can verify whether or not the doctor, hospital or medical service that they are seeking is going to be covered by the new plan so they can easily be reimbursed once the new plan receives their enrollment change from the agency.

If I set up a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) during open season, can I use it for medical expenses?

If an employee set up a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) during the open season, we would recommend avoid incurring any unnecessary medical expenses during the shutdown because the expense usually doesn’t qualify for reimbursement if it was incurred while in a non-pay status.

If I set up a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) during open season, can I use it for eligible dependent care expenses?

If an employee set up a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) during the recent open season, eligible dependent care expenses incurred while in a non-pay status may be reimbursed up to whatever balance that eventually ends up in the employee’s account, as long as the expense incurred allowed the employee to attend school full time or allowed the employee’s spouse to work. It’s unlikely that the employee was working or looking for work while in a non-pay status, but it’s possible, so the expense would also qualify if that were the case.

How does a shutdown affect my TSP account?

If you are in nonpay status for one or more full pay periods, you will not be contributing to your TSP account during that time. You may make inter-fund transfers. You can make an in-service withdrawal. For information on the effect of a furlough on your Thrift Savings Plan contributions, loans, and investments, please refer to https://www.tsp.gov/index.html

Will my Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) coverage continue?

Your coverage will continue.  If the lapse period is less than three consecutive pay periods, your premiums will accumulate and be withheld later when the lapse ends.  Following three missed pay periods, Long Term Care Partners will begin to bill you directly for premium payments which must be paid on a timely basis in order to continue your coverage.  

Will my Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) coverage continue?

Your coverage will continue.  If the lapse period is less than three consecutive pay periods, your premiums will accumulate and be withheld later when the lapse ends.  Following three missed pay periods, BENEFEDS will begin to bill you directly for premium payments which must be paid on a timely basis in order to continue your coverage.  

Do new enrollments or changes in enrollment due to a Qualifying Life Event take effect while in a non-pay status?

Generally, no, new enrollments or changes in enrollment due to a Qualifying Life Event do not take effect until the employee is back in pay status. The exception is for a new enrollment or change in enrollment due to the birth or addition of a child, which is effective on the first day of the pay period in which the child is born or becomes an eligible family member regardless of pay status.


If your question was not covered here, please consult the OPM Shutdown Guidance.

National Active and Retired

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES
Association



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NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association) 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314, Phone: (703) 838-7760, Fax: (703) 838-7785.

 

This is the only website that reflects the official opinions and positions of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). Opinions and/or positions that appear on any other site bearing NARFE's name or seal are not necessarily those of NARFE. Click here for Privacy Statement.   NARFE has been certified by Dun & Bradstreet.