January 14 2009 FEA Pacific Update

JANUARY 14, 2009
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

Area Director: Happy New Year! I hope you are re-charged this second week of the New Year Here is a quick look at upcoming events for the Pacific as well as updates.

Transfer Program: Yes, there will be a transfer program. FEA President, Michael Priser, has met with DoDEA HQ and the finishing touches are to be completed this week, so the program can be disseminated to DoDDS' educators. Please remember from year-to-year there are normally some changes and this year will be no different. Please read the information carefully. Our members can access ‘Tips for Transfers' via once they have been posted.

Pacific Assistant Principals' Conference: 25-30 January, 2009. The FEA representative attending will be Georgiana Viger, AEAO VP, and the Pacific's Teacher of the Year, Chad Casciani, Daegu ES/HS, who is also an FEA leader, TEAK VP. We will be well represented by Georgiana and Chad.

Pacific Area Leaders (PAL) Council: 21-23 February. The December PAL Council meeting went so well, the Council decided to hold the normal February meeting to keep the ball rolling. The meeting will be held in Tokyo.

NEA Mid-Atlantic Minority/Leadership Conference: 21-25 January. The Pacific will be well represented this year at the NEA Mid-Atlantic Leadership Conference. This year Melanie Horton, AEAO President will represent PAL. Wanda Robinson-Caton, NEATA HCRC, will be the HCRC representative and an extra treat is Wilma Holland, TEAK HCRC, will also be able to attend due to Wanda Beatty's, FEA HCRC, resourceful assistance. For information on the variety of conferences and offerings NEA has for members, go to

EXCENT: As the special educators well know, it is still broken. Our Pacific Special Education Coordinator has related that before Winter Break, a test database was implemented by several users in the Pacific, Europe and DDESS to identify the continuing issues to send to the vendor for corrections. The end of January and beginning of February is the target time frame for the release of the corrected program. HQ is currently working on a training program.

Computer Security Measures(IT): Thank you for keeping FEA updated on the security measures DoDEA implemented before winter break. To insure that IT does understand how the security measures affects your educational program as well as requests for exceptions, please work with your FRS and use the SERVICE DESK to keep a paper trail.

DoDEA Customer Satisfaction Survey: Administrators have been encouraged to increase parent and student participation. DoDEA leaders have assured FEA and participants that the survey is voluntary. Attempts to mandate that all students take the survey could skew results. Please work with your FRS if you have concerns.

Employee Satisfaction Survey: A survey will be conducted for DoDEA employees according to DoDEA HQ. It is scheduled for 1-31 March, 2009. Yes, it will be voluntary.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner

Blue Cross Blue Shield Update: For anyone who is enrolled in Blue Cross there is a significant change being made to coverage. If you receive any non-emergency surgery at a military hospital overseas, you will have a 30% co-pay up to $5000. That is because Blue Cross does not recognize military hospitals and clinics as preferred providers. As a result of this substantial change, members are able to change Federal Employees Health Benefits carriers up until the end of this month. You can make a change by going into EBIS. Of the major medical insurance carriers participating in FEHB program very few consider military hospitals overseas to be preferred providers. Foreign Service Protective Association does consider overseas military hospitals as preferred providers (PPO).

Leave and Earnings Statement and family size: It appears that DFAS is now including family size notation in the Remarks section of the Leave and Earnings Statement. This will make it much easier to check the accuracy of the Post Allowance that you are receiving. As of this date, family size for LQA is not included.

Prompt Payment Act: Under the Prompt Payment Act employees can be granted an equivalent of interest when travel and TDY expenses are not reimbursed in a timely manner. If there is a delay of more than 30 days interest can be requested.

Medical Insurance-Preferred Providers (PPOs): From research done for members in Okinawa in 2006 we know that Mail Handlers and Blue Cross do not treat military clinics overseas as Preferred Providers (PPO's). This means that they will only pay what are "reasonable and customary" fees. This is the level at which they will reimburse the charges. Then you must make a co-payment, at a higher percentage if you have used the ER or any clinic services.

For example, Blue Cross has an "Overseas Fee Schedule" which pays a percentage of the "reasonable and customary" fees using Washington, D.C. as the base. As it turns out the reasonable and customary fees in DC are some of the lowest in the larger metropolitan areas of the United States. This means they pay less and the educator pays more of the total cost above this level.

Other Information:

New Post Allowance and its impact on your LES (Courtesy of Brian Chance, FEA Secretary/Treasurer)

For those on 26 pay periods this link works well for finding Post Allowance bi-weekly amount.

For those on 21 pay periods please take the annual amount and divide it by 21 to find what your PA should be on each LES.

More information about Post Allowance:

The steps to finding what your actual amount of Post Allowance should be:
1. Website for current rates for various locations. - Please locate the current rate on the chart.
2. Now that you have the current rate you will need to access the post allowance tables at this website.
3. At this website once can find the biweekly amount of post allowance an employee should receive. This is based on the salary schedule. Use the first 6 complete tables. -- each chart is for a different number of dependents.

Computing for 26 pay periods: For a full pay period divide the annual amount by 365 (366 on leap years) then multiply times 14 for the amount payable in a full pay period. For less than a full pay period use the number of days payable.

Computing for 21 pay periods: Divide the annual amount by 297(298 for leap years), and multiply times 14 for the amount in a full pay period. For less than a full pay period use the number of days payable.

And more than you would ever need to know about Post Allowance

Belated Enrollment for FEHB, FEDVIP and FSAFEDS: You will have an extended opportunity to make any enrollment changes in these programs through January 2009. Belated FEHB changes will take effect on or after January 1, 2009. Belated FSAFEDS changes will take effect on January 1, 2009, or the day after the change is received.

Summer Course Offering: 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, 2009 (postmark). Get information here.

Yen and Won Rates: To check the rates go to this site. Thanks to Xavier Flores, NEATA President for this website. Also attached is a daily yen rates chart.

Thrift Savings Plan Election -- Get information here.

IRS contribution limits for 2009 -- For 2009, the IRS permits you to contribute up to $16,500 in tax-deferred money to the TSP. If you will be age 50 or older during 2009, you may also contribute up to $5,500 in additional "catch-up" contributions if your regular contributions for the year reach the $16,500 limit.

NEA's Read Across America: It's never too early to begin planning for this event. Visit the Read Across America page at NEA launched the Read Across America program in 1997. The nationwide reading celebration takes place each year on or near March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss, who epitomizes a love of learning. Dr. Seuss's use of rhyme makes his books an effective tool for teaching young children the basic skills they need to be successful.

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director
DSN 315-267-6159