Although each Air Force command and installation has released its fair share of pertinent furlough information, Team Edwards leaders want to keep you as informed about the financial resources available to help minimize the impact of this projected furlough on you and your family as information becomes available.
As with any furlough, the uncertainty of a government furlough may leave some Air Force Materiel Command civilian employees feeling and their immediate family members stressed and anxious, but Team Edwards members should know that they can still access the Employee Assistance Program, provided by Federal Occupational Health, during a furlough at no cost.
“It is important that Team Edwards members know that there are some base resources available during these times for support. We have specific services available for military and civilian members,” said Linda Crump, Airman and Family Readiness personal financial readiness officer. “Depending on each individual situation resources and referral will be made after determining the member’s respective issue.”
Here are some things that the EAP can do for you if you face this challenge:
- In-person counseling – Confidential counseling with an EAP counselor may help with a broad range of personal issues. The counselor will help to identify and resolve specific issues of concern within a limited number of counseling sessions. If treatment is required beyond the session limit, the EAP counselor will refer the person to an appropriate treatment or community resource. To learn more or to connect to 24/7 crisis management services call the EAP toll-free number.
- Legal consultation – with a licensed attorney, followed by reduced-fee services if required. People may choose to have a 60-minute phone or in-person consultation with a local attorney. Either way, the initial session is provided at no cost. After-hours services are available for emergencies.
- Financial consultation services – There are several avenues available – including professionals with experience in accounting, banking and insurance; certified public accountants and certified financial planners – all of whom are available to provide people with time and services to meet their needs. Those who have determined the exact nature of their issue should call the EAP toll-free number listed below to receive assistance in arranging for a consultation with the appropriate financial resource.
- ID theft program – provides comprehensive legal, financial, and ID-theft-resolution services. People will have one point of contact for all their ID-theft-resolution needs. These services can save people thousands of dollars in legal expenses and countless hours of valuable time.
When it comes to developing a budget, here are some tips to consider in order to help keep your finances on track:
- Save a portion of your earnings and you can call it an emergency fund or a furlough plan. Estimates on bi-weekly leave and earnings can be calculated using a Furlough Calculator, which can be used as an approximation tool.
- Reduce non-essential, discretionary spending such as entertainment, dining out, shopping, etc.
- Place needs over wants. Don’t forget to use coupons and discount promotions when possible.
Based on your individual financial situation, you may want to consider communicating with creditors/lenders, in writing, if you cannot pay as expected. Ask creditors to reduce the interest rates on your credit card accounts. Many creditors will work with individuals going through financial hardship.
- Talk to your bank/s and/or credit union/s about possible furlough programs for federal employees. Some programs may include:
- Short term (up to 60 day) interest free loans
- Overdraft forgiveness within 60 days of a furlough
- Skip up to two months of payments on loans including credit cards, car loans
- Consider reducing your Thrift Savings Plan donations temporarily. Those who contribute even modest amounts to TSP can recoup a loss in your paycheck caused by a furlough. Be sure that you understand the repercussions on your overall retirement savings plan before taking such drastic actions. This action may have an adverse impact on your retirement plans. For more information, visit the TSP website at www.tsp.gov.
- For those with concerns about your Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB), your contributions for health insurance will not change. Agencies will continue to be responsible for the agency contribution of any furloughed employees.
In regards to a civilian personnel’s annual or sick leave, annual and sick leave is prorated. When 80 hours of non-pay status is reached, annual and sick leave will not be accrued that pay period. You may continue to use leave as approved by your supervisor.
For those employees considering outside employment, Department of Defense civilian employees may engage in outside employment, within certain limitations. Employees must take care that any other employment does:
- NOT interfere with their DOD duties
- NOT detract from readiness or pose a security risk
- NOT create an appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest
- NOT reflect adversely on DOD
All AFSPC military and civilian employees are required to submit an AF Form 3902, Application and Approval for Off-Duty Employment, prior to outside employment.
“The most important advice we can give is to start creating a contingency plan, build an emergency fund, live with essential things, spend when absolutely necessary and lastly create a support system among friends and family,” added Crump.
Airman & Family Readiness Center
Community Readiness Consultants are ready to assist Department of Defense civilian employees with financial counseling. Active duty and retired military, as well as DOD civilian employees who are also retired military are eligible for financial counseling and financial assistance. Airman and Family Readiness also provide information and referrals to community resources.
Resources available for civilian or military members are:
- Air Force Aid. Each request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Resource available to military members, retirees, and widows.
- Budget Analysis/Spend Plans. Resource available to civilian and military members.
- Financial counseling one on one/unit briefings upon request. Resource available to civilian and military members.
- Debt Management. Resource available to civilian and military members.
- Investment resources. Resource available to civilian and military members.
- Military Family Life Consultant, if for financial, the AFRC recommends bringing spouses if married. Resource available to civilian and military members.
- Employee Assistance Program. Resource available to civilian members.
- Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund. Civilian member should go straight to web site for assistance.
For Team Edwards members looking for AFRC assistance, the AFRC site is moving to the former Conference Center, Bldg 5620. The AFRC will be closed April 16, 17, 18 and 19 for normal business and reopen at the new AFRC location April 22, 2013. Any Air Force Aid emergencies will be addressed as normal.
Federal Employee Education & Assistance
DOD civilian employees may also request financial and emergency assistance loans up to $1,000 through the Federal Employee Education & Assistance: http://www.feea.org/
Military Family Life Counselor
DOD civilian employees may have a need to talk with a professional counselor. The MFLC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with an office in Building 722, Airman and Family Readiness Center. Civilian employees can call and make a confidential appointment. Whether you’re experiencing a crisis, relationship issues, or stressful situations at work, the MFLC can help you. (321) 634-4953.
Air Force Aid Society
Air Force Aid Society emergency assistance is available to Airmen and their eligible family members to meet immediate needs in an emergency situation. The AFAS website is located at www.afas.org. The Society provides interest free loans and grants based on the individual situation for needs such as:
- Basic Living Expenses
- Emergency Travel
- Vehicle Expenses
- Funeral Expenses
- Child Care/Respite
- Moving Expenses
- Miscellaneous Expenses
Eligibility for AFAS includes:
- Active duty Air Force personnel and their eligible family members
- Retired Air Force personnel and their eligible family members, but not on a continuing basis, and based on a case-by-case review
- Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve personnel on extended active duty 15 days or more under Title 10 USC
- Spouses and dependent age children of deceased Air Force personnel (who died on active duty or in retired status)
Emergency Assistance for Air National Guard & Air Force Reserve Personnel.
Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve personnel on extended active duty 15 days or more under Title 10 USC are eligible for emergency assistance when the emergency is incident to, or resulting from applicant’s active duty tour. AFAS will respond to genuine emergency situations and offer stabilizing assists, but not long-standing needs caused by other factors such as previous employment, poor home maintenance, or a serious mortgage delinquency.
A Paymatic authorization form must be completed at the time any loan assistance is given to a Guard or Reserve member. This ensures that in those cases where allotments cannot start, AFAS can submit the Paymatic form, authorizing AFAS to collect payments directly from the member’s checking account.
Other DOD agencies emergency relief
Federal employees who are retired from Active Duty, or from the Reserve receiving pensions, are eligible for emergency loans and sometimes grants from:
Army Emergency Relief website
For more information about the Army Emergency Relief website, go to www.aerhq.org/dnn563/.
Navy Marine Corps Relief Society website:
DOD civilian employees who are Army, Navy or Marine retirees; their spouses or widows may apply for assistance through their respective relief agencies by contacting the Airman and Family Readiness at (661) 277-0723 or find out more information via their website at www.nmcrs.org/index.html.
Benefit & Entitlement Service Team (BEST) at AFPC
BEST is responsible for providing customer service and current benefits information for Air Force-serviced civilian employees in the following programs: Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program; Thrift Savings Plan; Retirement (and retirement-related) Programs; and Survivorship (counseling and/or claims assistance for employee death-in-service and family member death). For more information, call 1-800- 525-0102
Civilian Personnel Office
Human Resources Specialists can help with general furlough and benefits and entitlements questions and may also refer to online resources like EBIS, My-Biz, MyPERS, OPM or the BEST team at AFPC.