January 26, 2004
MyPay web site offers pay information online
By Staff Sgt. Mark Turney
Would you like up-to-date pay information? Would you like to tell the future, plan for the future or both? The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) give you these options and more, at least where your money is concerned.
The newly created MyPay website: https://mypay.dfas.mil/mypay.aspx gives each soldier and their family access to information about the service member's money 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world. During this time of units deploying to the farthest reaches of the earth, this type of information can be a benefit to soldiers, however, Virginia Army National Guard officer, Col. Donald Sutherland, who is the Deputy USPFO for Virginia, warns, “We should caution our soldiers to let SIDPERS know also about address changes because changes done through ‘MyPay' will not show up in SIDPERS and this can lead to significant problems later on.”
After signing up for a personal PIN number there will be a list of options from which to choose. There are a few to go over. The first thing is the ability of knowing in advance what pay you can expect. MyPay gives you the option of reading your LES information days in advance so there are no surprises in your bank deposits. You can also access your last three LES's in case you have questions about prior disbursements. For all soldiers, with the exception of Army National Guard, members can turn off the paper copy of their leave statement and save a few trees.
There is also the ability to view and make changes to your account, such as, viewing, printing and saving LES's, viewing and printing tax statements, making changes to federal and state tax withholdings, updating bank accounts, electronic fund transfer information, and certificates of eligibility. Plus there is a whole lot more information concerning retirement, savings bonds, annuity accounts and saving plans. All of these are easily viewed or changed with a few clicks of the mouse on MyPay.
There is another very important and relatively new option available to members of the Armed Services. It is called the Thrift Savings Plan and can be accessed through MyPay.
The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a Federal Government-sponsored retirement savings and investment plan. Congress established the TSP in the Federal Employees' Retirement System Act of 1986. The original purpose of the TSP is to provide retirement income for civilian employees of the US Government who otherwise were ineligible for many other retirement plans. Fourteen years later, this civilian benefit would get a major facelift.
On October 30, 2000, the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-398) was signed into law. One provision of the law opened participation in the TSP to active members of the uniformed services. This included Reserve and National Guard members as well.
The TSP is a defined contribution plan rather than a defined benefit and it is completely voluntary. The retirement income that you receive from your TSP account will depend on how much you have contributed to your account during your working years and the earnings on those contributions. The TSP offers the same type of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under "401(k)" plans. Yet says Sutherland, “Unlike corporate 401(k) programs, there is no company matching. The only money available is what you've contributed and what is made in investments by the TSP Board.”
To start or change your contributions, you must do so within 60 days of when you join the uniformed services or during a TSP open season. If you are a member of the Ready Reserve and are called to active duty or are a member leaving active duty and entering the Ready Reserve, you may also make TSP elections within 60 days of your change in status. (Special Rule for Bonus Pay: If you are already contributing from basic pay, you may elect to contribute from bonus pay at any time.).
You may stop your contributions at any time. If you stop your basic pay contributions, your service will automatically terminate your contributions from special pay, incentive pay and bonuses. However, you may stop contributing from incentive pay, special pay, or bonus pay and still continue your contributions from basic pay.
If you stop contributions during a TSP open season, you may resume them in the next open season. If you stop your contributions outside an open season, you must wait until the second open season following the termination to resume your contributions. If you stop contributions from a bonus, you may elect to reinstate the bonus election at any time.
Your TSP elections will stay in effect until you submit another election to change or stop your contributions, or you separate from service. Consequently, if you elect to contribute from bonus pay, your election will cover future installments or any other bonus pay to which you become entitled, until you specify otherwise.
Members can contribute up to 9% of their basic pay throughout 2004 and up to 100% of special pay and bonus's up to the amount prescribed by Federal Tax Law. In 2005 you can contribute up to 10% and 2006 or thereafter 100%. To get more information on the TSP log onto MyPay or go to: www.tsp.gov .
If you are not computer-friendly and find yourself getting lost on-line with no one to turn to, there is a solution. Even if you 're not sure if you did something right and have a question or perhaps just want to talk to a human who understands the frustrations of dealing with the evil computers, MyPay has help available. Simply dial their toll-free-number at (800) 309-2348 Monday through Friday between 7:00 am and 7:30 pm eastern standard time. They are available 24 hours a day.