Federal HR Policies Affecting Schedule A Appointment
Coordination of Benefits
The Regulations issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) allowed a Cooperative Extension employee on a Schedule A appointment to participate in one of the Federal Retirement Systems. Former CES Federal appointees can participate in the (Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), the Civil Service Retirement System Offset (CSRS Offset), or the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS)). Depending on the cooperative agreements between the college/university and USDA, the agent may participate in one or more of the following benefit plans:
The CES employees Schedule A appointments were terminated effective January 31, 2003. Section 7220 of Public Law 107-171, dated 5/13/2002, terminated the Federal Schedule A appointments for CES employees with the companion Federal appointment and Federal benefits. However, the legislation included a stipulation which allowed the affected CES employees to continue to participate in the Federal benefits program without having the Federal appointment. The legislation stated that the former Federal appointees could continue to participate in the programs that they were eligible to participate in prior to the enactment of the new law except for the Federal Workers’ Compensation Program. As of January 31, 2003, no new workers compensation claims can be filed with the Federal Department of Labor.
For more information and questions regarding the Federal Benefits available, please see the above corresponding benefit web pages and the Federal Benefits Matrix section of this guidance.
States, territories, local entities and/or colleges/universities may offer alternatives for these programs as well as other benefits. Cooperative Extension employees should check with their Human Resource office to obtain information regarding the benefit options available for them.
Extreme care must be taken when counseling CES former Federal appointees and other CES employees to ensure that the employees are provided the information unique to their CES employing office. There are some major differences between Federal and sate/university benefit plans and all affected employees should be counseled and provided the necessary information to make an informed decision on their employment and benefits status.
Benefit Conflicts and Coordination
Benefits for CES employees are different from many of the benefits offered by traditional Executive Branch agencies, e.g., USDA, etc. The retirement plans have the same benefit options available to other Federal employees; however, there are some retirement options, e.g., use and transfer of sick leave, available to Federal employees that may not be available to CES employees with Federal benefits. This applies to individuals no longer employed by the CES program and individuals employed after January 31, 2003 that continue to participate in the Federal benefit programs without the companion Schedule A appointment. The benefits for one CES organization can be different from the benefits offered by another CES organization. TSP, FEHB, FEGLI, and OWCP programs offered by the CES organizations are unique to each CES college/university. In addition, the sick leave policies for each CES organization are unique to that organization and sick leave cannot be transferred to another CES organization or to a Federal agency.
Care must be taken when employees move from one CES organization to another and individuals that transfer to an organization outside of CES are aware of the impact that their change in employment will have on their benefits status. Gaining and losing agencies must provide their employees and each other with the information necessary to make an informed decision and to determine the appropriate benefits available under the new appointment. CES organizations need to complete the CES Request for Preliminary Employment Data form to record and transfer information on their former Federal appointees benefits and retirement/employment records. Additional information may be required by Federal agencies.
CES organizations that do not participate in the Federal Health Insurance, Life Insurance, and OWCP programs must provide information to their employees with Federal benefits on the impact their participation in the state programs can have on their Federal health, life, and OWCP benefits. CES employees with Federasl benefits that choose not to participate in the Federal programs must be counseled on their ability or inability to transfer state health and life insurance coverage with them when they retire. Some CES organizations allow their employees to continue their state health/life insurance with the state and others do not. CES organizations and employees that do not choose to participate in the Federal health and life insurance programs, and who are not allowed to continue their state health and life insurance coverage when they retire, must enroll in the Federal plans and be covered for five years prior to the date of their Federal retirement action or, since the first opportunity to enroll in order to transfer their Federal health and life insurance with them into retirement.
Former Schedule A CES employees who file OWCP claims under the state or local plan must ensure that the deductions for their FEHB and FEGLI coverage are made from the workers compensation pay if they are enrolled in the Federal plans.
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