December 5, 2012 FEA Europe Update

1. Debt Letters
2. Area Directors' Travels
3. What Will Really Happen
4. Holiday Travels
5. Needs No Explanation
7. Open Season
8. Mark Your Calendars
9. VERA and Transfers
10. Update
11. Unity
12. TSP 2013
13. Weather Updates
14. Seasons Greetings !
15. Suggested Mail-by Dates from European Theater to U.S

1. Debt Letters -- Let's get the bad news out of the way first. DFAS is still issuing debt letters at a steady rate. If you find one of these in your stocking on December 25 please remember to follow all guidance that has been issued on how to proceed. If you are unsure contact your FRS.

2. Area Directors' Travels -- On November 29 I visited Ansbach ES and Ansbach HS. I am currently trying to make plans for a number of school visits in January. At the end of next week both Lisa and I will be traveling back to Washington for the FEA BoD meeting.

3. What Will Really Happen -- In the coming weeks you will hear more and more about the supposed Mayan prediction that the world will end on December 21. This provides great grist for the rumor mill, but if you want to know what will really happen click here. Still, to be safe, I plan on going out on the evening of the 20th and having one really good time ! And please be sure to leave emergency plans ! ☺

4. Holiday Travels - For those of you traveling during the upcoming Winter Break, here are some travel tips. Make sure you have copies of all your passports and other important documents stored separately from the originals when you travel. Make sure you have up-to-date contact information in your wallet or purse in the event of an accident, etc. You may want to include local contact information as well as stateside contacts. It is also a good idea to let a colleague know your travel plans and contact numbers in case of emergency

5. Needs No Explanation - Click here.

6 .NCA/QAR - (from Area JCC, April 09 ) An ongoing concern of the Association is the amount of extra time and work that NCA/QAR visits (and other monitorings) cause for teachers. One task that may be unnecessary for these visits is the making and giving of "gift bag/baskets" to the visiting team. The Association would like to note for the record, the following excerpt from the Advanced Ed guidelines: "Please note that team members are not allowed to accept gifts from the school (school pens, pads of papers, and other items to assist the team with their work are acceptable to provide)." Management Response :There is no DoDDS-E expectation or direction that gift bags, baskets or other special welcome items be prepared by teachers.

7. Open Season -- This is a final reminder that Open Season closes this coming Monday, December 10. If you are planning on making any changes now is the time to do it.

8. Mark Your Calendars --
December 9 -- Hanukkah
December 10 -- Last day of Open Season/ Human Rights Day
December 17 -- 21 - FEA Board of Director's Meeting, Washington, DC
December 21 -- First full day of Winter
December 23 - Festivus
December 24 -- First Day of Winter Break
December 25 -- Christmas Day

9. VERA and Transfers -- As of today we have heard no further information on VERA or the transfer round. As soon as any news comes out we will immediately notify you. Transfer information will likely appear first at FEA Online.

10. Update -- Lisa will be back on December 12 with what will be our final Update for 2012 since the following week we will both be in DC. It is very hard for me to believe that by the time I write next it will be 2013. Where did the time go ? As always, if there is breaking news, we will get it out to you. Also remember to check for current information.

11. Unity -- The first edition of the Unity for SY 12/13 has now been fully mailed. FRS's please let me know if you have not received them as of this date.

12. TSP 2013 -- Thanks to Debra Degalis, Pacific Area Director, for sharing this information.
  • Annual deferral limit for 2013 is $17,500

  • Catch up limit for 2013 IS $5,500

  • Enter your TSP election in EBIS between Dec. 2 and Dec. 15 in order for the election to be effective in pay period 1 for 2013 (It is recommended that you enter your election by December 14 to be safe; the initial deduction for pay period 1 of 2013 will be in your LES of Jan. 4, 2013.) Contributions are counted toward the calendar year in which the pay is received.
  • If the election is entered from Dec. 16 on, the contribution amount will need to be adjusted if you wish to maximize. To determine the adjusted amount, use the Elective Deferral Calculator on the TSP website

  • If you are electing the $17,500 limit and are on 21 pay periods, your contribution is $834 per check

  • If you are electing the $17,500 limit and are on 26 pay periods, your contribution is $674 per check

  • Catch up contributions - if on 21 pay periods then $262 per check and if on 26 pay periods then $212 per check

  • If contributing a dollar amount, contributions must be in whole dollar amounts

  • EBIS will not accept cents, therefore in order to maximize your contribution, round up to the next dollar amount

  1. Catch up contributions do not need to be maximized. You may contribute from $1 to $5,500 in catch up contributions. The key is that you must contribute the maximum of $17,500 in regular contributions to be eligible to contribute catch up contributions.

  2. You must do an election in EBIS if you are eligible and choose to do catch up contributions. Employees must make a positive election each year for catch-up contributions if they wish to participate.

After logging into EBIS you will use the transactions tab to make your changes. Within 24 hours of making the change in EBIS log back in to your account and verify you have a transaction pending in the TSP window.

It is important to note that if an individual is making catch-up contributions in 2012 and wishes to continue making them in 2013 he or she must go into EBIS and make a new election for 2013. Employees must make a positive election each year for catch-up contributions if they wish to participate.

Additionally because the annual deferral limit has increased to $17,500 for 2013 employees who wish to contribute the maximum must go into EBIS and adjust their current TSP deduction.

  • You can contribute to both your Roth and traditional TSP balances but the total amount of the contributions cannot exceed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) elective deferral limit, which is $17,500 for 2013

  • Roth TSP contributions will be invested in the same fund allocation as traditional TSP contributions.

  • There is no Roth option for Agency Automatic (1%) and Agency Matching Contributions for Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) employees. They are always tax deferred. Roth TSP contributions are added to traditional TSP contributions when determining the percentage of pay being contributed for purposes of the Agency Matching Contribution formula.

  • If you are currently making traditional TSP contributions and also want to make Roth TSP contributions you must make a new election.

  • In order for Roth TSP earnings to be tax free you must make your withdrawal at least 5 years after the beginning of the year in which you made your first Roth contribution.

13. Weather Updates - Winter weather is now upon us. The 21st Operational Weather Squadron located in Sembach, Germany, provides up to date weather information for all of our military installations and the surrounding areas. To find out the current 5 day forecast for your location go to this site.

14. Seasons Greetings ! - Since this will be my last Update prior to the break I want to take a moment to wish all of you a very Happy Holiday season ! As I look out my window right now here in Vilseck and see the ground white and the snow falling it definitely puts me in the mood for the upcoming break. Again, thanks to everyone for all you do for our students all year long. At this time of year also look after each other. Don't let any of our colleagues find themselves alone at this time of year. Finally, however you choose to spend the Holidays, be careful, be safe, and above all, get some rest !!

15. Suggested Mail-by Dates from European Theater to U.S. - First Class/Priority: Dec. 9; Express Military Mail Service: Dec. 16 As you can see, time is running out !


Alex Veto
FEA Europe Area Director
Tel: 0160 2388051