The Administrative Office Compensation System recognizes the value of employees in supporting our mission of service to the federal Judiciary by providing
- equal pay for jobs with comparable responsibilities;
- variations in pay in proportion to differences in difficulty of work;
- pay increases based on individual responsibilities and performance without regard to national origin, race, sex, age, color, disability, or other non-merit factors.
Our compensation system is a structured pay banding system. The salary structure is generally adjusted on an annual basis in response to changes in the Employment Cost Index and local job market conditions. Employees are eligible for annual and performance-based pay adjustments.
Employees are paid on a biweekly basis (26 pay periods a year). Pay day is every other Friday. Salary payments are sent directly to a bank or other financial institution for deposit in a checking and/or savings account. Deductions from salary are taken for federal taxes, state taxes, local taxes (in some areas), and for retirement and/or Social Security and Medicare. Other deductions might include things such as health benefits or life insurance premiums, the Thrift Savings Plan, Savings Bonds, charitable donations, or personal allotments.
Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
The popular Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is the government's version of a 401(k) tax-deferred retirement savings and investment program. An employee who participates in TSP throughout a 30-year career can have a substantial nest egg for retirement.
TSP investments are made with pre-tax dollars, and taxes on your investment earnings and contributions are deferred until the money is withdrawn.
Employees elect to contribute a portion of their salary to the TSP, and the federal government matches contributions up to the first 5%. The federal government contributes an amount equal to 1% of salary even if the employee contributes nothing!
Employees newly hired by the federal government participate in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). FERS employees pay a small percent of salary to the retirement system and contribute to Social Security and Medicare. The government also contributes to these benefits. Upon meeting age and service criteria, employees will receive an annuity from FERS as well as a benefit from Social Security.
No two people are alike, so no single health benefit plan will fit everyone's individual needs.
The Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) program is an optional benefit, allowing employees to choose coverage that best fits individual needs. Coverage is available from a wide variety of health insurance plans, including well-known national plans, HMOs, and regional providers. The government shares in the cost of premiums.
Coverage under the FEHB program is not dependent on a physical examination and does not exclude employees with pre-existing medical conditions. An annual “open season” is held during which employees can change plans or level of coverage. Immediate family members are eligible for coverage, and employees can change from individual to family coverage – or reverse – following a change in family status.
The Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) is an optional benefit allowing employees to choose coverage that best fits their needs. An annual open season is held for electing or changing coverage. Employees can elect self, self plus one, or family coverage. Employees pay the full share of the FEDVIP premiums but gain access to more comprehensive dental and vision coverage than is available under the FEHB plans.
Unlike employees of many private sector companies, most employees are automatically eligible for the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program when they start work. More importantly, initial coverage under FEGLI is not subject to physical examination and does not exclude employees having pre-existing medical conditions.
In addition to a basic coverage based on your annual salary, you may elect any or all of three forms of optional insurance to supplement the basic coverage. The cost of basic insurance is shared between you and the government and is based on the amount of coverage.
Flexible Benefits Accounts for Medical and/or Child Care Expenses
Flexible benefits accounts allow employees to set aside funds through pre-tax payroll deduction to pay for certain medical expenses not covered by health insurance and/or for reimbursement of dependent care expenses. Employees may set aside up to $10,000 for medical expenses and up to $5,000 for child care expenses.
Holidays and Leave
It is important that employees have a life outside the office, and we provide them time to enjoy it. We benefit from ten paid holidays per year, paid annual (vacation or personal) leave and sick leave. As you progress through your federal career, the amount of annual leave you earn increases based on your years of service as shown below:
|Years of Federal Service ||Paid Annual Leave Earned |
|Less than 3 ||13 days a year |
|3 to 15 ||20 days a year |
|More than 15 ||26 days a year |
We have the added bonus of being able to carry up to 240 hours (30 days) of unused annual leave into the next calendar year.
In addition to annual leave, Administrative Office employees earn 13 days of sick leave each year, accumulated at the rate of 4 hours per biweekly pay period. Sick leave can be used during times of illness, for medical appointments, to care for a sick family member, or for bereavement. Unlike annual leave, there is no limit to the amount of sick leave you can carry over from year to year. Administrative Office employees also benefit from other leave programs, such as Family Medical Leave and the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program.
Let's face it – commuting in Washington can be an adventure.
We help make it a bearable adventure by subsidizing our employees' commute with a transit benefit program to help defray costs. We participate in the SmartTrip card program, and our employees can pay for other mass transit and parking expenses through pre-tax payroll deduction.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Administrative Office employees may choose from two long-term care programs, the Federal Judiciary Long-Term Care Program or the Federal Long-Term Care Program sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management. Long term care is something you may need if you can no longer perform everyday tasks by yourself. You can receive this care in a variety of settings, including your home, an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Both programs include a variety of coverage options.
Accidents happen. But federal employees can rest easy knowing the Federal Employee's Compensation Act provides them with pay, medical care and assistance, vocational rehabilitation, and reemployment rights in the unlikely event of a disabling injury while performing official duties.
In addition to providing an on-site fitness center, the Administrative Office offers a wide variety of seminars and screenings to support our employees' health and wellness needs. Past seminars dealt with topics such as smoking cessation, weight management, mental health, lupus, and reflexology. Periodic health screenings are conducted for such things as diabetes, skin cancer, glaucoma. We also offer mobile mammography and quarterly blood drives.
Employee Assistance Program
From time to time, each of us is faced with personal problems – many of which can be solved with professional assistance. Administrative Office employees can get this assistance through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a free, confidential counseling and referral service. Meeting privately and confidentially, an EAP counselor can help assess problems and work with an employee to find a solution – in most cases through either short-term counseling or referral to an appropriate and affordable resource. Emotional issues, family and marital problems, substance abuse, or financial concerns – EAP counselors are equipped to meet an employee's need for assistance.