Extended Military Benefits Program ~ Frequently Asked Questions

Revised 12/02/10

For more details, including definitions please see the Terms of the Extended Military Benefits Program.

Program Description and Eligibility

What is the Extended Military Benefits Program ("EMBP")?
The EMBP was established in 2001 as a voluntary benefit for City employees in the military reserves. It was created to ease, as much as reasonably possible, any financial disruption for City employees and their families which may be caused by long-term military duty connected with the events of September 11, 2001.

On July 7, 2008, Governor Paterson signed legislation that amended Section 242 of the New York State Military Law by adding a new subdivision 5-a, titled the Public Servant Soldier Salary Act. The EMBP was accordingly modified. Key changes to the program are summarized below:

  • Extended Military Benefits Program – Full Pay/Repayment Plan ("EMBP – FP/RP"): The Public Servant Soldier Salary Act changes the repayment terms under the initial EMBP plan (the plan effective prior to November 5, 2008) where employees received their full City salary and were required to repay the lesser of their military pay or City salary. The repayment terms were modified from 10% of an employee’s salary over five years to 7.5% of an employee’s salary over ten years. All debt has been reduced by an administrative adjustment of 15%.

    The Extended Military Benefits Program promulgated by the City from October 2001 until November 4, 2008, was a "full pay/repayment plan" program. That program is no longer being offered for new periods of military service.
  • Extended Military Benefits Program – Differential Pay ("EMBP – DP"): The Public Servant Soldier Salary Act changes the City’s program to a differential pay program where employees receive the difference between their City salary and military pay when the military pay is less than the City salary with no repayment required.
  • The Statutory Entitlement period was increased to 30 work days from the previous 30 calendar days or 22 work days for all Public Servant Soldiers of the City of New York.

Who is eligible for the EMBP?
Employees of the City of New York who are serving in Ordered Military Duty in a Covered Operation are eligible for the EMBP. Members of the National Guard or Reserves who have orders for voluntary deployment do not qualify for the EMBP, and employees who voluntarily enlist on active duty are not eligible for participation in the EMBP, regardless of the language in their orders.

What is "Ordered Military Duty"?
"Ordered Military Duty" shall mean involuntary military duty performed as a member of the organized militia or reserve forces or reserve components of the armed forces of the United States with or without consent of that member.

What is considered a "Covered Operation"?
"Covered Operation" shall mean Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Noble Eagle or operations specifically connected with Homeland Security.

How do I enroll in the EMBP – DP?
In order to participate in the EMBP- DP, you must submit the following forms to your military liaison officer:

  • Military Orders for a covered operation
  • DP-2520: Enrollment In the Extended Military Benefits Package
  • Recent Leave and Earnings Statements ("LESs")
  • Your contact information while deployed (Page 3 of DP-2520)

Failure to submit any of the above will be deemed a declination to participate in the EMBP-DP.

What is the benefit of enrolling in the EMBP - DP?
Employees who enroll in the program are entitled to remain on payroll in active pay status, receiving the difference in pay between their City salary and military pay (where the military pay is less than the City salary), accrue annual leave and sick leave, and continue their preexisting healthcare benefits.

Employees whose military pay is greater than their City salary do not receive any differential pay but do continue to accrue annual leave and sick leave and continue their preexisting healthcare benefits.

To ensure the EMBP is right for you, please contact a financial advisor. The City of New York has partnered with Jackson Hewitt Tax Service and H&R Block in offering tax preparation assistance to employees who elect to enroll in the EMBP.

In addition, H&R Block has agreed to provide returning employees who were enrolled in the "full pay/repayment plan" guidance on which reimbursement option (or combination of options) best suits their circumstances.

Can I decline to enroll in the EMBP?
The EMBP program may not be ideal for everyone, and you are not required to participate. You are strongly encouraged to consult with your financial advisor, accountant and/or your attorney when deciding whether to participate in this program. If you decline to enroll in the program, you will be asked to complete and sign form DP-2531: Declination of the Extended Military Benefits Program.

Is Homeland Security duty covered?
Ordered Military Duty for Homeland Security is covered.

For how long can I receive the benefits of the EMBP?
The benefits will continue for as long as your Ordered Military Duty meets the eligibility requirements of the EMBP.

Can I opt to enroll in the old EMBP program?
Only the EMBP-DP will be available for all deployments that begin on or after November 5, 2008. Enrollees currently deployed under the EMBP–FP/RP (the old program) as of November 5, 2008 will be given the option of remaining on the EMBP-FP/RP or switching to the EMBP-DP for the remainder of their deployment. See Question, "What if I was enrolled in the EMBP program and I am still out on deployment as of November 5, 2008?"

What if I was enrolled in the EMBP program and returned from deployment prior to November 5, 2008?
If you were enrolled in the initial EMBP program ("EMBP-FP/RP"), and returned to work prior to November 5, 2008, you are obligated to repay your debt according to the terms of the EMBP-FP/RP.

What if I was enrolled in the EMBP program and I am still out on deployment as of November 5, 2008?
If you were enrolled in the EMBP-FP/RP and are still deployed under this program as of November 5, 2008, you will have the option (1) to join the EMBP-DP or (2) to continue under the terms of the EMBP-FP/RP for the duration of your deployment.

If you choose to join the EMBP-DP, your repayment obligation will be calculated for the period of your deployment prior to the day you are accepted into the differential pay program. You are obligated to repay any debt accrued according to the terms of the EMBP-FP/RP.

What if I am redeployed while I am repaying a debt from the EMBP – FP/RP program?
If you are deployed again on Ordered Military Duty for a Covered Operation on or after November 5, 2008, and accept the EMBP, you will be enrolled in the EMBP-DP. If you are repaying a debt accrued while on the EMBP-FP/RP your repayment term will stop and resume upon your return to City service.

How is this benefit different from my Statutory Entitlement under New York State Military Law?
Under New York State Military Law, section 242(5-a), an employee is entitled to receive his/her City salary while on leave for Ordered Military Duty, not to exceed 30 work days in any one calendar year or in any one continuous period of military service. Employees do not have to repay salaries earned during this Statutory Entitlement.

The EMBP exceeds this Statutory Entitlement by allowing employees to remain on payroll in active pay status beyond the end of their Statutory Entitlement, for as long as their Ordered Military Duty meets the eligibility requirements.

If you elect to sign up for the EMBP, you are required to sign an agreement that obligates you to submit your LESs to your Agency Military Liaison Officer in order to calculate the differential pay you will receive while on Ordered Military Duty. The differential pay is the difference between your City salary and your Military Pay where the military pay is less than the City salary. During your Statutory Entitlement period you will receive your full City salary.

Can I return to the EMBP full pay/repayment if I was enrolled in it previously, but have since switched to the EMBP differential pay?

Only those employees who were enrolled under the initial EMBP program (EMBP-FP/RP) as of November 5, 2008 and who opted not to switch to the EMBP differential pay (EMBP-DP) are still eligible for EMBP-FP/RP. The intent of the legislation was to eliminate future enrollments in the EMBP-FP/RP, and enrollees who opted to switch to the EMBP-DP cannot be returned to the EMBP-FP/RP.

ENROLLMENT AND ADMINISTRATION

What documents do I have to provide to my agency before I leave?

  • You must provide a copy of your military orders, specifying Ordered Military Duty in a Covered Operation and including the starting date of the Ordered Military Duty. You will also be required to provide your latest LES (from training or a previous deployment within the past three months) to your agency prior to deployment so that your differential pay can be computed.
  • You must sign and have notarized form DP-2520: Enrollment in the Extended Military Benefits Program, your contact information while deployed (Page 3 of DP-2520), and the DP-2532: Time Balance Usage form.

An employee who fails to submit his or her military orders or fails to submit an LES with the Enrollment (and, therefore, does not allow the agency to determine whether the employee is serving in a Covered Operation or whether the employee is to receive any differential pay) shall be deemed to have declined participation in the EMBP – DP; therefore, he or she will not receive any differential pay or any additional benefits of the EMBP-DP.

How will I get my paychecks?
You should register to receive your paychecks through direct deposit if possible. If someone will be picking up your paychecks for you, you should make the appropriate arrangements with your agency.

EFFECT OF EMBP ON NEW YORK CITY EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

If I enroll in the EMBP, do I accrue annual leave and sick leave?
Annual leave and sick leave accrue as if you are working, and will be credited to you upon returning to work.

If I enroll in the EMBP, is my health insurance covered? What about for my family?
If you are enrolled in a City health plan, the health plan you have selected for yourself and your family will continue. You will be responsible for the payment of any monthly premiums under the same terms and conditions as applied prior to leaving City employment for Ordered Military Duty.

If you are enrolled in a premium health insurance plan prior to being deployed that requires you to pay a contribution out of your paycheck and you receive no differential pay (i.e. your military pay is greater than your City salary) or your differential pay does not fully cover this contribution, you must contact your Military Liaison Officer to set up another payment method prior to deployment.

If I do not enroll in the EMBP, can I continue my health insurance coverage?
Employees who decline to participate in the EMBP will be granted Special Leave of Absence Coverage ("SLOAC"), which provides continuation of health plan coverage for up to four months for those on leave without pay. Upon the conclusion of SLOAC, you are entitled to 24 months of health insurance coverage as stipulated under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). However, a portion of this coverage is provided at a cost to you. You should consult your agency for more information on this benefit.

If I enroll in the EMBP, are pension payments made on my behalf?
If you are enrolled in the pension program, you should contact your individual pension system regarding your pension's policies regarding pension contributions while on the EMBP-DP.

If I enroll in the EMBP, are Deferred Compensation contributions made?
Yes. Deferred Compensation Plan contributions will continue to be deducted from your differential pay. It is highly recommended that you cease your contributions towards the Deferred Compensation Plan during the Period of Coverage.

If I enroll in the EMBP, are deductions taken for the Combined Municipal Campaign, Savings Bonds, TransitChek, and other voluntary deductions?
Yes, all automatic deductions will continue unless they are suspended. If you are enrolled in these programs or have any other voluntary deduction, it is highly recommended that you cease all voluntary deductions while out on Ordered Military Duty.

RETURNING FROM SERVICE

Do I have to return to my job immediately upon return from Ordered Military Duty?
No, you do not have to return to your job immediately. Pursuant to a Federal law called the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), you are entitled to some period of time to re-adjust to civilian life before returning to your City job. The length of that period time depends upon how long you were out on military duty. (Please see the following question, "When do I have to report back to work?"). However, even though you do not have return immediately to your job, your participation in the EMBP ends upon the end of your military service. Therefore, if you participated in the EMBP, you must contact your agency within one business day of your return from Ordered Military Duty to advise them that your Period of Coverage under the EMBP has ended.

When do I have to report back to work?
Your agency cannot require you to report back to work any sooner than permitted under USERRA. Under USERRA, you must return to work within 90 days if your military service was for a period of more than 180 days and within 14 days if your military service was for a period of 31 to 180 days.

Is the time between when I return home and when I report back to work part of the time period covered by the EMBP?
No. The time between the conclusion of Ordered Military Duty and the return to work is not covered under the EMBP.

What documentation do I need to provide when I notify my agency that I have concluded my Ordered Military Duty?
You must provide a copy of your military release orders. If you were deployed on the "full pay/repayment plan" you must keep all LESs that you collected during your deployment.

Can I submit my military W-2’s in lieu of LESs?
No, military W-2s are not acceptable. You must submit your LESs.

Can I submit my DD-214 in lieu of my LESs?
No. Your DD-214 must be submitted to your Military Liaison Officer but cannot be submitted in lieu of your LESs.

I don't have my LESs, what can I do?
If you are missing one or all of your LESs, they can be retrieved online at http://www.dfas.mil/. If not all of your LESs are posted online (the older ones may cycle off), you must contact the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) for information on how to obtain the missing LESs. Click here for additional instructions for contacting DFAS regarding the LESs for your branch of service.

What if I have a question regarding my military service?
If you have questions concerning military service, then you must contact your military reserve administration office. The following phone numbers are for the public affairs offices for the administrative and personnel sections of the branches of the military. Please contact these numbers for any questions specifically related to your military service.

Army: (703)-693-0295
Air Force: (703)-571-2785
Navy: (703)-697-5342
Marine Corps: (703)-784-9454

REPAYMENT (for employees deployed on the EMBP – FP/RP or employees who are overpaid on the EMBP - DP)

 Who is required to repay EMBP debt?
An employee who was enrolled in the voluntary EMBP – FP/RP will be required to make repayments. Additionally, any individual who received pay under the EMBP – DP to which he or she was not entitled (for example, by receiving differential pay after returning from Ordered Military Duty, but before returning to work), will be subject to repayment conditions under the Terms of the EMBP.

How much money will I have to repay?
If you participated in the voluntary EMBP – FP/RP, you are required to pay back either your City salary or your Military Pay that you earned during your deployment (excluding any pay earned during your Statutory Entitlement period), whichever is less. City salary means your City salary before taxes and other deductions are deducted. Military Pay means your base pay. The amount of repayment will be reduced by 7.65% to account for FICA taxes you have paid (FICA includes both Social Security and Medicare) and 15% for an administrative adjustment as specified under New York State Military Law, section 242(5a). No adjustments will be applied towards those making repayment for overpayments made under the EMBP – DP plan.

Any EMBP-FP/RP participant who repays his or her debt amount before his or her last scheduled payment will receive a 5% discount off the remaining amount owed at the time of full repayment. This early repayment incentive does not apply to repayment made for overpayments on the EMBP - DP.

When do I have to start to repay the money?
Upon your return to work, your agency will request information from you. You must provide the information within the time period specified by your agency. In general, you should expect to begin repayment within eight weeks.

What are my repayment options?
Repayment of the entire amount may be made through certified check, money order, credit card, charges to Leave Balances, or a combination of these options. If you do not repay the entire amount owed within 30 days of your receipt of a repayment agreement, then you will be enrolled in a program of payroll deductions equal to 7.5% of your gross base City salary on the date of enactment of New York State Military Law, section 242(5-a) (November 5, 2008) or the date of return to City service, whichever is later, for a period not to exceed 10 years from the date of return from ordered military duty.

What is the procedure for making a repayment?
Upon your return to work, after you have contacted your Military Liaison Officer, your agency will ask you for certain documents, including but not limited to military orders and LESs. Those documents will be used to determine the military pay earned during your deployment. Your agency will perform the necessary calculations and send you a letter informing you of your repayment obligation. You will then be given the opportunity to select your method(s) of repayment.

What if I do not provide sufficient LESs for my agency to determine my military pay?
If you do not provide sufficient LESs for your agency to determine your military pay, we will assume that your military pay was the higher of the two salaries and your City salary will be used as the amount that needs to be repaid. As your military pay may be significantly lower than your City salary, we strongly encourage you to provide your military pay information so that we can perform the necessary calculations.

How long will I have to make repayments?
If you return from deployment on or before November 5, 2008, you will have up to ten years from November 5, 2008 to repay the amount you owe. If your date of return from ordered military duty is after November 5, 2008, you will have up to ten years from the date of return from ordered military duty to repay the amount you owe. If you do not repay the entire amount as soon as you return, you will be enrolled in a program of payroll deductions as described above. If, at the end of the ten-year period, you have not satisfied the repayment obligation, a payment for any amount still owed is due in full. If you cannot meet your repayment obligations, you may contact your agency for instructions on demonstrating your financial hardship. Please see Question, "What if I cannot satisfy my repayment obligation?" below.

Can I pay down my debt by making an additional lump sum payment or a charge to Leave Balances?
At the beginning of each month, you will be given the opportunity to make additional lump sum payments or charges to your Leave Balances to help pay down the amount you owe. Your Agency Military Liaison will provide you with more details.

There may be tax consequence when cashing in your Leave Balances to repay EMBP debt. Please contact your Military Liaison Officer for further information.

I’d like to pay the entire amount I owe right after I return, and I’d like to use a combination of charges to Leave Balances and a lump-sum payment. How much time do I have to submit the lump sum?
If you are paying the entire amount you owe through a combination of charges to Leave Balances and lump-sum payment, you will have 30 days to make your lump-sum payment after you receive your selection agreement from your agency.

Can I use sick leave to make a repayment?
No. Sick leave is not an eligible form of repayment.

May I return my uncashed City paychecks?
No, you may not return your uncashed City paychecks. Repayment must be made by one of the repayment options available.

If I do not pay the entire amount owed in a lump-sum or charges to Leave Balances upon my return, how soon will payroll deductions commence?
Payroll deductions in the amount equal to 7.5% of your gross base City salary on the date of enactment of New York State Military Law, section 242(5a) (November 5, 2008) or 7.5% of your gross base City salary on the date of return to City service, whichever is later, will begin no later than two weeks from the date you are sent your Employee Repayment Plan Selection and Agreement form.

What if I am redeployed while I am repaying a debt from the EMBP – FP/RP program?
If you are deployed again on Ordered Military Duty for a Covered Operation on or after November 5, 2008, and accept the EMBP, you will be enrolled in the EMBP-DP. If you are repaying a debt accrued while on the EMBP-FP/RP your repayment term will stop and resume upon your return to City service.

How will electing to receive the program affect my taxes?
H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service have agreed to prepare, without charge, one set of federal, state and local tax returns for those City employees who accepted the EMBP. In addition to preparing one set of tax returns, H&R Block has agreed to provide employees in the EMBP – FP/RP guidance on which reimbursement option (or combination of options) best suits their circumstances.

You are invited to contact either one of these firms, as indicated below, to receive the particular range of services they are prepared to provide. Representatives of the firms will advise you what materials and documents you will need to gather.

To contact H&R Block, please call (212)-243-9222 or (212)-579-0464. You will reach the office located at 116 W. 72nd St., New York, NY 10023, where Office Manager Reno Cappello will be able to answer all your questions and advise you as to the next steps.

To contact Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, please call (866)-322-0810. You will reach a dedicated Jackson Hewitt representative who will assist you in securing a tax preparation appointment at the Jackson Hewitt location nearest you.

What if I transfer to another agency before the repayment is paid back?
If you transfer from one City agency to another, the old agency will send the new agency your repayment information. You will continue the ten-year repayment plan in the new agency.

For the purposes of the EMBP, if you transfer to a City entity that is not on the City’s payroll system, this matter will be treated as if you have separated from City service. See Question, "What if I leave City service before the repayment is paid back?" for more details.

What if I leave City service before the repayment is paid back?
If you separate from City service (including retirement), you are still obligated to repay the amount owed. Once you have agreed to join the EMBP, you have entered a legally binding agreement with the City of New York. When you separate from City service, you will have the remaining amount of time to repay your outstanding balance as you had prior to separation from City service.

Can EMBP repayments be deducted directly from my pension check?
EMBP repayments cannot be deducted directly from a pension check.

What if I cannot satisfy my repayment obligation?
The repayment policies of this program are not intended to create any undue financial burden on an employee. If you cannot meet your repayment obligations (whether it is the mandatory 7.5% payroll deductions or the ten-year cap on repayments), you may contact your agency. You must be prepared to demonstrate a change in circumstances since your election to accept the EMBP program and financial hardship. Your situation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and alternative arrangements may be considered.

What impact does the new program have on EMBP enrollees who were granted a hardship consideration prior to November 5, 2008?
Hardship cases may have changed to conform to the terms of New York State Military Law, section 242(5-a), which sets a standard for payroll deductions. Talk with your Military Liaison Officer for details about your individual circumstances.

What if I overpaid the amount owed?
If you overpaid your amount owed, as a result of the administrative adjustment stipulated in the terms of New York State Military Law, section 242(5-a) or for any other reason, the amount of overpayment will be returned to you in the same manner as your original method of repayment (i.e., if you repaid by charges to Leave Balances, an amount of leave equal to the amount of your overpayment will be returned to you; if you repaid by lump sum, a check in the amount of your overpayment will be issued to you; and if you repaid by payroll deductions, the amount of your overpayment will be returned to you on your paycheck).

FURTHER QUESTIONS

What if I still have questions about EMBP?
If, after reading these Frequently Asked Questions, you still have questions about the EMBP, please contact your Agency Personnel Officer or Agency Military Liaison. Click here for a listing of Military Liaisons by agency.


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