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Check out the special spreadsheet that assists you with calculating the total FEGLI cost over your career along with the article Low-Cost Term Life Alternative to FEGLI Option B.
Life Insurance – Dual Status Technicians
National Guard dual-status technicians are a unique type of federal employee. They can also be called Military Reserve Technicians as we refer them later in the article. That’s how they are referred to in the law, Title 5 and Title 32 of the US Code. They are civilians who work for the National Guard. Their jobs range from helicopter, airplane, and tank mechanics to clerical and support workers. Unlike other federal employees, National Guard dual-status technicians are required to maintain military status as a condition of their civilian position.
Most federal employees are covered by Title 5; however, dual-status technicians are covered by both Title 5 and Title 32 (known as the Technician Act). The Technician Act requires dual-status technicians to wear a military uniform as a condition of their employment; leave their civilian position if they can no longer meet their military requirements; and exempts the workers from overtime pay, seniority, and Merit Systems Protection Board rights that other federal workers have.
National Guard dual-status technicians have the same right to organize and join a labor union as other federal employees. They also enjoy the protections in the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Act (Chapter 71 of Title 5), including the right to bargain a contract, the right to union representation, and the right to file grievances and unfair labor practices. However, Title 32 allows dual-status technicians to be treated worse than other federal employees in the labor-management context.
For example, while most federal employees facing discipline can either file a grievance or appeal a disciplinary charge to an outside federal agency (MSPB), technicians can only file a grievance with their Adjutant General without third-party review. Technicians are also exempt from laws providing overtime pay, and other rights.
The Department of Defense, the Army and the Air Force, and the National Guard Bureau all oversee dual-status technicians. The state Adjutant’s General, subject to federal regulations, are the designated employer of technicians.
Dual-status technicians typically get the “worst of both worlds” between their fellow civilian and military members. Unlike military members, technicians must work longer to be eligible for retirement; they are typically not eligible for enlistment bonuses; have limited seniority rights, and do not receive veterans’ preference.
Unlike other civilian workers, they do not have discipline appeal rights to the MSPB, and their supervisors often serve as their military leaders, complicating the working relationship. Additionally, multiple deployments of the dual-status technicians to Iraq and Afghanistan has meant that the unions that represent them lose up to 50% of our bargaining unit at any given time.
Special Retirement Supplement
The Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) contains a little known additional benefit computation for workers retiring at the minimum retirement age (MRA) with at least 30 years of service. This Special Retirement Supplement, which is determined using a complex formula that estimates the Social Security benefits earned through federal or postal employment under FERS, is intended to replicate the Social Security benefit payable at age 62. The following classes of employees are entitled to the supplement:
• Voluntary retirees at the minimum retirement age (55-57) with at least 30 years of service.
• Voluntary retirees at age 60 with at least 20 years of service.
• Discontinued service retirees when the retiree attains the minimum retirement age (55-57).
• Members of Congress at age: 50 with at least 20 years of service or 25 years of service at an age when they attain the minimum retirement age (55-57).
• Military Reserve technicians who are age 50 with at least 25 years of service who lose their military status.
• Law enforcement officers, air traffic controllers, and firefighters.
The Special Retirement Supplement was created by Congress to bridge the gap between retirement and when Social Security benefits begin. It is paid as an annuity until you reach age 62. If you transferred to FERS from CSRS, you must have at least one full calendar year of FERS-covered service to qualify for the supplement.
The CSRS definition of eligibility, in combination with the CSRS formula, allows participants to retire before age 62 and receive benefits above what they would receive were they to be covered by a “typical” private sector arrangement, in which the Social Security portion of the benefit would not become payable until age 62.
To determine the approximate dollar value of the special annuity supplement, take the Social Security benefit estimate provided by the Social Security Administration, divide it by 40, then multiply the product by the number of years covered by FERS, rounded up to the next higher year. Do not include any years of Civilian or military service for which you have made a deposit to the retirement fund. Only years during which you have been employed under FERS count.
If you have earnings from wages or self-employment that exceed the Social Security annual exempt amount under the Earnings Test, your Special Retirement Supplement will be reduced or stopped.
No Social Security Earnings Test Until Reaching the Minimum Retirement Age (55-57) For Military Reserve Technicians
The supplement payable to law enforcement officers, firefighters, air traffic controllers, and military reserve technicians who lose military status is not tested for earnings until they attain the minimum retirement age (55-57).
The Life Insurance Fiscal Cliff – Here Today – Gone Tomorrow
Remember the dual status technician is a member of the military and has SGLI until 120 days after retirement AND may participate in FEGLI option A, option B, option C or FEGLI basic. If you remember from other articles at age 50, using FEGLI Option B becomes prohibitively expensive and with having these two sets of policies and benefits, a technician will not know what they don’t know until they dig into the FEGLI rates on their pay statement.
I recently called one of my friends who is in the Army National Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel and serves as a GS-13 dual status technician. He participates in FEGLI option B and he’s 48 years old. I asked him if he was aware of the price hikes of FEGLI option B at age 50. He said he wasn’t and he was sure if he needed to switch anything that a veteran service officer would tell him how to do it. It’s important to note that when military reserve technicians retire, SGLI expires and what they’re left with is FEGLI unless there is consideration taken to buy a low-cost term life insurance policy to be in force before SGLI expires.
If you carry FEGLI Option B at ages beyond 50 it becomes prohibitively expensive. To avoid this we recommend you carry the FEGLI basic plan into retirement and purchase a low-cost term life insurance policy in conjunction with a modest permanent life insurance policy prior to the age of 50 as we’ve discussed here.
You Must Notify OPM using SF 2817
New federal employees become eligible for FEGLI Basic coverage when they start working. If they do not want to participate or if you want to purchase additional optional coverage through FEGLI, you must complete Standard Form 2817 and forward it to your employing agency. The SF 2817 should be used for the following:
- New federal employees who are eligible for FEGLI and want additional coverage
- New federal employees who do not wish to participate in FEGLI
- Insured employees who wish to change their coverage
- A reinstated employee who previously filed a waiver for FEGLI and then was separated from service for at least 60 months and now wishes to elect coverage
- An employee who has been appointed to a position that allows life insurance through FEGLI after serving in a position that did not allow life insurance through FEGLI
- Assignees who wish to reduce coverage or cancel coverage
- Department of Defense employees who are designated "emergency essential" and civilian employees deployed in support of a contingency operation per Public Law 110-417
Standard Form 2817 can be filled in on paper or online. Click Here for the online form.