FAA employees enjoy competitive salaries and standard Federal employment benefits. A quick summary of the benefits are highlighted, followed by more detailed information below:

Health Insurance: Employees may enroll in one of several health plans offered to Federal employees. The government shares the cost and no physical examination is required. Coverage generally begins 2 weeks after the date of enrollment.

Life Insurance: Low-cost term group life insurance is available. Like health insurance, the government shares the cost and no physical examination is required. New employees are automatically enrolled in basic life coverage unless they waive enrollment.

Holidays and Leave: Executives and senior professionals/chief scientists are paid for 10 Federal holidays and earn 13 days of sick leave and 26 days of annual leave each year. Executives and senior professionals may carry over up to 720 hours of annual leave at the end of the year. There is no ceiling limit for accrued sick leave.

Retirement: Employees new to Federal Service are enrolled in a three-tier system that includes Social Security, a basic pension plan, and the Thrift Savings Plan (the Federal government's version of 401K). Under the Thrift Savings Plan, employees may contribute up to $17,500 from pay into a tax-deferred interest account. The government matches the employee's contribution, up to 5% of basic pay. Individuals who are age 50 or older and contributing $17,500 per year may also contribute an additional $5,500 each year to the Thrift Savings Plan.

Health Insurance

The Federal Government offers a variety of health insurance plans, of which the Government contributes approximately 60-75% of the premiums. You should carefully evaluate your health care needs and match them with one of the many plans available. Some of the features of the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program are:

  • Guaranteed coverage without medical examination or restrictions because of age, current health or pre-existing medical conditions
  • A variety of types of coverage including fee-for-service plans, health maintenance organizations, and prepaid health plans
  • The opportunity to change coverage due to a change in family status
  • The opportunity to enroll in a different plan once per year during the annual open season
  • Continuous coverage during a period of extended absence of up to one year
  • Continued coverage upon immediate retirement if you have been continuously enrolled five years prior to retirement, or if less than five years for all service, since the first opportunity to enroll
  • Temporary continuation of health insurance for former employees and family members
  • Coverage for foster children and other dependent children under certain conditions
  • Convenient payroll deduction
  • Premium payments made from pre-tax salary.

Health benefits for new employees generally become effective 2 weeks after enrollment. Employees may also enroll in supplemental dental and vision insurance through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). For more information, visit the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) web page.

Life Insurance

The Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Program (FEGLI) is designed to provide your family with immediate protection against financial hardship in the event of your death. The following are some of the features:

  • No medical examination or waiting period for coverage when you enter Federal service;
  • A variety of levels of coverage with optional coverage for family members;
  • Accidental death and dismemberment benefits with certain options;
  • One-third of the cost of Basic Coverage is paid by the Government;
  • Continuation of coverage after retirement if you have been enrolled for five continuous years prior to retirement, or if less than five years, since your first opportunity to enroll;
  • Convenient payroll deduction.

Basic Coverage

You will be automatically covered by the Basic life insurance plan when you enter Federal service unless you sign a waiver stating that you do not want it. Your Basic insurance amount is equal to your salary (rounded to the next thousand) plus $2,000. If you are age 35 or younger, you will receive coverage equal to double your Basic insurance amount. The extra coverage decreases by 10% for each year over 35 until you reach age 45, at which point there is no extra benefit. The cost for Basic Insurance is $0.1550/biweekly for each $1000 of your basic insurance amount. The extra coverage feature for employees under age 45 is provided without additional cost.

If you decide to waive the basic benefit coverage, you will be required to wait at least one year and provide the results of a physical examination in order to enroll for coverage.

Optional Coverage

You may choose to take advantage of additional coverage options. You must have the Basic coverage in order to be eligible for Optional coverage. There are 3 options which are summarized below:

  • Option A — Standard: An additional $10,000 of coverage. You pay the full premium for this option. The cost depends on your age.
  • Option B — Additional: This option provides additional coverage from 1 to 5 times your salary. You pay the full cost of this coverage. The cost is determined by your age.
  • Option C — Family: This option provides coverage for eligible family members. Eligible family members are your spouse and unmarried dependent children up to age 22. The amount of the coverage is $5,000 for your spouse and $2,500 for each family member. You may elect 1 - 5 multiples of this coverage. You pay one premium which covers all family members. The amount of the premium depends on your age, not the age of your family members.

For more information about FEGLI (Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance) visit the OPM FEGLI web site. This site features an on-line calculator that allows you to determine the face value of your FEGLI life insurance; calculate how much you are paying for coverage; see how choosing different options can change the amount of your life insurance and your premium withholdings; and see how the life insurance carried into retirement will change over time.

Holidays & Federal Leave

Federal employees receive the following paid holidays each year:

Holiday Schedule

Holiday Scheduled Day
New Year's Day January 1
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday 3rd Monday in January
President's Day 3rd Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day July 4
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day 2nd Monday in October
Veterans Day November 11
Thanksgiving Day 4th Thursday in November
Christmas Day December 25

Federal Leave Program Flexibilities

Annual Leave

Annual leave may be used for vacations or any other purpose. All executives and senior professionals/chief scientists earn 8 hours of annual leave each pay period, for a total of 26 days per year. Executives and senior professionals may carry over up to 720 hours of annual leave at the end of the leave year.

Federal employees earn 104 hours (13 days) of sick leave each year, and there is no limit on the amount of sick leave they can accumulate throughout their Federal career. Sick leave may be used for physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy or childbirth, or medical, dental, or optical examination and treatment. Sick leave may also be used for purposes related to the adoption of a child, for general family medical or bereavement, and to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

FAA has adopted the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employees may use a total of 12 administrative workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for (a) the birth of a son or daughter and care of the newborn; (b) the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care; (c) the care of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition; or (d) a serious health condition of the employee that prevents the employee from performing the essential functions of his or her position.

The Federal Leave Sharing Program

Sick Leave

This program includes a leave transfer program that eases the financial burden of an employee who has exhausted available paid leave as a result of a prolonged period of absence due to a certified personal or family member’s medical emergency. The leave transfer program allows Federal employees to voluntarily donate annual leave to other Federal employees. FAA employees may also donate and receive donated sick leave from other FAA employees.

Court Leave

Is available for Federal employees who serve as jurors in the courts of the United States, the District of Columbia, or State or local Governments.

Leave Without Pay

May be used instead of paid leave for various purposes with supervisory approval. Extended periods of leave without pay may affect health and retirement benefits, future pay adjustments, and leave accrual.

Other types of leave available for Federal employees include military leave, home leave, shore leave, funeral leave and excused absence for bone-marrow or organ donation.

Retirement & Thrift Savings Plan


The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS) are two separate retirement systems that apply to FAA employees, depending on the date of hire. CSRS generally applies to Federal employees who were hired prior to 1983, and who did not convert to FERS. This section highlights features of the FERS retirement system.

All new Federal civilian employees hired after 1983 are automatically covered by the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS). This system is a three-tiered retirement plan. Its components are:

  • Social Security Benefits,
  • FERS Basic Benefit Plan, and
  • TSP Benefits

The first part of the retirement benefit is Social Security. It provides monthly payments if you are retired and have reached at least age 62; monthly benefits if you become disabled; monthly benefits for your eligible survivors; and a lump sum benefit upon your death.

The FERS Basic Benefit portion is financed employee and Government contributions. The Basic Benefit is a monthly payment depending on the employee's pay and length of service. The Government averages the highest 3 consecutive years of basic pay. This "high-3" average pay and the employee's length of service are used in the benefit formula. Individuals who meet the criteria also receive a "Special Retirement Supplement" which is paid as a monthly benefit until the annuitant reaches age 62. This supplement approximates the Social Security benefit earned by the employee while employed by the Federal government.

The third part of the Federal Employees' Retirement System benefit is the TSP. The TSP is a tax-deferred retirement savings and investment plan that offers the same type of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. Employee contributions are made from pre-tax salary and no taxes are paid on TSP contributions until the account is withdrawn.

Thrift Savings Plan Highlights

Both FERS and CSRS employees can participate in the TSP. You can contribute up to $17,500 (the annual limit on elective deferrals) of your basic pay during the year to the TSP, If you are a FERS employee, your agency contributes an amount equal to 1% of your basic pay each pay period. These are your Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions. You receive these contributions whether or not you contribute to TSP. If you contribute your own money, you receive Agency Matching Contributions on up to 5% of basic pay that you contribute each pay period — dollar for dollar on the first 3% of pay contributed, and 50 cents on the dollar for the next 2%. CSRS employees do not receive Agency Automatic or Matching Contributions

Eligible employees can make an election to start, change, or reallocate the investment of TSP contributions at any time. All contributions must be made through payroll deduction. Lump sum contributions from other sources, such as personal savings, are not permitted. You may be able to transfer money into your TSP account from traditional Individual Retirement Account or an eligible employer plan.

Employees may contribute an additional $5,500 each year, beginning in the calendar year in which they will turn age 50. To qualify for the “catch-up” contribution, you must be contributing the maximum to your regular TSP account. There is no Agency Automatic or Matching Contributions paid on the catch-up. The additional $5,500 contributed under the catch-up provision is in addition to the $17,500 annual limit on elective deferrals.

Annual Limit on Elective Deferrals

Section 402 of the Tax Code limits the amount of income you may elect to defer under all cash or deferred arrangements during a tax year. This limit is indexed to the annual cost-of-living adjustments referred to in the Tax Code and may change from year to year. The IRS announces the annual limit on elective deferrals each year. For TSP participants, your employee contributions are considered to be elective deferrals. Agency automatic (1%) contributions made to FERS employee accounts are not. Once the annual limit is reached, your employee contributions will be suspended for the remainder of the tax year. You should therefore keep the annual contribution limit in mind when deciding how much you will contribute to your TSP account each pay period. If you reach the annual maximum too quickly, you could lose the opportunity to receive some agency matching contributions since those are based on the first 5% of your basic pay contributed each pay period. More information (PDF).

The Federal Employees' Retirement System is a flexible plan designed for a flexible work force — for employees that are more likely to work for several different employers during the course of a career. It also builds on the Social Security credits that employees already have or may earn in the future from non-Federal work. For further information about Federal retirement benefits, visit OPM’s Retirement web site and the TSP web site.