Federal and Retirement Benefits: What You Need to Know in 2024

Every year, changes to federal and retirement benefits impact federally employed women. Examples can include Social Security amounts and cost of living (COLA) rates, to name a few. In 2024, there are specific modifications that present unique opportunities and challenges for women working for the government.

Staying informed on these changes is crucial to making informed decisions, protecting your financial well-being, navigating your career and contributing to the government workforce.

Nicole Sherwood at United Benefits provides pertinent information you need to know about federal and retirement benefits in 2024 and shares tips on meaningful ways federal employees can improve their current situation.

Key Information to Know

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): The maximum Federal SSI payment amounts rise with Social Security benefit cost-of-living increases. The latest such increase, 3.2 percent, became effective in January 2024. The monthly maximum Federal amounts for 2024 are $943 for an eligible individual, $1,415 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse and $472 for an essential person. 
  • Wellness programs: Many agencies offer health and wellness programs with incentives for participating in health-related activities such as like health fairs, fitness challenges and healthy eating campaigns. Additionally, some agencies provide on-site fitness centers or discounted memberships to local gyms. Take advantage of these programs in 2024 to improve your health and potentially lower your healthcare costs.
  • Catch-up contributions: If you’re 50 or older (or will be turning 50 in 2024), you can make additional contributions to your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) beyond the annual limit. The 2024 IRS annual limit for Catch-up contributions is $7,500. This amount is in addition to the regular TSP limit of $23,000. If you started late or had career gaps, use this option to boost your retirement savings.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: The Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) is currently suspended and they’re not accepting new applications. Eligible individuals who applied for FLTCIP prior to the start of the suspension period will have their application considered. If the application is approved for coverage, then the individual will receive a benefit booklet and schedule of benefits with complete coverage information.
  • Life insurance: Employees under age 65 who retired on or after January 1, 1990, must continue to make contributions toward their basic life insurance coverage. For 2024, budget authority and obligations will increase by $2.0 million due to the number of annuitants under age 65 with Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance coverage. Funds appropriated to this account remain available until expended to finance post-retirement life insurance benefits.
  • COLA: Starting at 62, Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) retirees are eligible for COLA. For 2024, annuitants who retire under FERS will receive a 2.2 percent increase. The rate varies each year.
  • Retirement planning: Utilize resources from your agency and organizations like the Office of Personnel Management to create a personalized retirement plan. Consider factors like desired retirement age, anticipated expenses and potential sources of income—any survivor benefits and decisions made in retirement exceptionally impact retirement and future benefits. Factors to consider are your retirement planning, with or without a survivor, life insurance and other benefits.
  • Survivor benefits and retirement: Protect your loved ones by designating beneficiaries for your TSP and life insurance policies. If you retire under FERS, the maximum survivor benefit payable is 50 percent of your unreduced annual benefit.

Tips for Optimal Utilization of Federal and Retirement Benefits

Outside of the open season, when federal employees can change their benefit options, there are meaningful ways federal employees can optimize their utilization of federal and retirement benefits to improve their current situation.

One of the ways is to make changes to your benefits when applicable. For example, if you have any life change—including loss of coverage, adoption, birth, marriage, divorce, death or a move—you can change your benefits. This may trigger other updates like changing your insurance or beneficiaries. Also, it’s a good time to revisit your financial outlook so you can make any necessary updates based on your changes.

Another approach is to understand every component of retirement income and TSP options. This includes maxing out your TSP contributions, especially if you’re eligible for agency matching contributions. This significantly increases your retirement savings. Finding the solution that best meets your needs should be customized to fit your specific goals.

Finally, keeping updatedabout your benefits and retirement options is crucial for financial security and planning for your future. Understanding key information and actively managing your benefits and retirement plans can ensure a comfortable and secure future after your government service.

Financial Planning and Career Development Resources

FEW offers various programs and resources focused on career development and leadership training. The organization also provides workshops, webinars and conferences on topics like financial planning, work-life balance and stress management. Premiere training on the national, regional and chapter levels are just some of the paybacks of FEW membership. 

Get in touch to learn more. We’d love to hear from you.

Nicole Sherwood is a licensed health and life insurance agent with United Benefits, which works alongside federal employees to provide and design solutions that fit an individual or family’s needs. Sherwood specializes in Medicare, benefits, and retirement for federal employees and retirees. Before working in insurance, she worked in finance for one of the top 25 children’s hospitals and several Fortune 500 companies.