November 25 2009

Employee Benefit Information System
Social Security Supplement
Summer training from the National Endowments for the Humanities
Master's Degree in Special Education
HCR Workshop
Reminder, re-enroll your FSA accounts
Check your expiration dates

1. Employee Benefit Information System (EBIS) If you have not set up your account to access information via EBIS, please do. This is a wonderful website with a wealth of information. It also allows you to make some changes to your health and life insurance plans (during open season), TSP Coverage, as well as looking at your retirement information and projections for your pension. Attached EBIS PDF

2. I would like to mention something that has caused some confusion to folks thinking about (VERA) retirement under FERS. You may be eligible for Social Security Supplement. First, you have to be of Minimum Retirement Age between 55 and 57 depending on the year you were born and retire with an immediate annuity, not a deferred annuity. Each year a few months before our birthday we receive a Social Security Estimate notification. You will need the amount they anticipate you will receive if you decide to take SS at age 62. You can estimate the amount you may receive for Social Security Supplement using the following formula.
Take the number of years of FERS service and divide by 40 this will equal a percentage of the amount from the age 62 information from the Social Security notification mailing.
A real example would be 23 years of service divided by 40 = .575 times (x) $14,250.00= $8,193.75 or about $682.00 per month as the Social Security Supplement. This supplement is paid until the month before you turn 62 whether or not you decide to take regular reduced Social Security then or wait until your full Social Security age for retirement.
Years of service XX divided (/) by 40 = % times (x) amount from the SS mailing = yearly amount for Social Security Supplement. I hope that answers more questions than it creates! Please see attached PDF for FERS SS Supplement
For further information, contact your DSO Human Resources specialist.

3. Summer training from the National Endowments for the Humanities: The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the Federal Government. Each year the NEH's Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study humanities topics in a variety of Summer Seminars and Institutes. The dates and duration of each project are listed under each title.The application deadline is March 2, 2010 (postmark).
Amount of Award
All teachers selected to participate in an NEH seminar or institute will be awarded a fixed stipend based on the length of the seminar or institute to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).
Further information can be found at: Thank you to Brian Chance, FEA Secretary/Treasurer for sending this to me

4. Master's Degree in Special Education (Special Focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders) For DoDDS Teachers and Professional Staff in Germany
Information sessions and orientation for potential applicants will be held as follows:
Ramstein Middle School, Wednesday, December 9th -- 17:30 -- 18:45 hours
Heidelberg Middle School, Friday, December 11th -- 17:30 -- 18:45 hours
Dr. Philip J. Burke, Professor and Chair of the Department of Special Education, University of Maryland, College Park will present a program overview and answer questions. You may also contact Dr. Tori Page-Voth, or Ms. Judy Foster , USA phone: 301-405-6514, with any questions regarding this program.

5. HCR Workshop: We are also very pleased to have Tamara Hamilton of the NEA present a weekend workshop on Strategic Leadership Development. This is a uniquely designed graduate track for educators who want to take their leadership skills to a higher level of effectiveness. It will assist educators in developing strategies to achieve their professional objectives and their personal goals.
Date: Dec 5-6, 2009
Time: 09:00 - 17:00 (Lunch is provided)
Location: Bistro "21" Kaiserslautern Rathaus/City Hall, 21st Floor, Willy-Brandt Platz 1, 67655 Kaiserslautern
Parking: Street Parking or in the Pfalztheater Underground Garage
For this training, graduate credit is offered through either University of San Diego or Ashland. If you plan to attend, please contact Terese Sarno as materials need to be ordered. There is a $15 registration fee, which includes lunch. The fee for the one graduate credit is to be paid directly to the university when you register. There will be a follow up paper due no later than December 16, 2009. All FEA members are welcome, but preference is given to those taking the course for credit. To register or for further information, please contact Terese Sarno. This event is sponsored by the KAEA and the FEA Europe HCR program.

6. Reminders you have to re-enroll your FSA accounts each year. This open season ends December 14, 2009.

7. Check your expiration date on your drivers licenses (both here and Stateside) I.D. cards and Passports. They have a nasty habit of catching us at the last minute!

8. Thankful I was talking with our Granddaughter recently and we were talking about Thanksgiving and what we were thankful for. She expressed all of the things a 4 year old would say. She asked me what I was thankful for. I could not explain to her about my job so she could understand (besides the lump in my throat was tough to talk around). I am most thankful for my wife and, on the FEA side, our members. We are a unique group of people that live in a military world but who are not military. We give up some of our rights in order to do our jobs and experience the world. We have strengths and weakness like anybody, but we work from our strengths to the best of our ability for the benefit of our students. I am thankful for the FEA support staff. They give us so much help from our Washington office. I am also thankful for our UniServs. I am thankful for our District Reps and local Faculty Representatives and, as I mentioned, our members. I am most thankful for Chuck McCarter for his helpful advice and wonderful editing expertise! I can not think of a better person to work with as an Area Director. All of those things would be a bit tough to explain to a 4 year old. I guess I am just thankful to have this opportunity to represent such wonderful folks.

Travel safely this Thanksgiving Vacation!
John Luchtman
FEA Europe Area Director
Federal Education Association
Work 354-6844 Civ 09721-4758012
Home Fax/Answering machine 09725-5372