DH has not been a federal employee for his entire career -- it was a mid-career change. When we completed the PROFILE, we found they *do* account for the value of his non-taxable benefits (in our case, the employer-paid part of medical coverage) and we were also asked if he was covered by a traditional pension plan. I assume that those are taken into account when considering FA (esp., since we didn't qualify for any based on his gov't salary), since I've read in the various materials that PROFILE looks at one's "funding" for retirement down the road, and makes allowances in EFC for people who are underfunded.
The tradeoff when DH considered changing jobs was lower salary but better benefits and a pension (he had no retirement plans at his previous job). Being risk-averse sorts, and in our late 30s at the time, we took the long view. Four years later, I was diagnosed with leukemia. My meds cost as much as a year of private college. We are grateful we dodged that bullet. But I also feel a little guilty about what that $$ could do for healthcare expenses in the broader community.
I worked in 401(k) and retirement plan administration/benefit communications for fifteen years before leaving due to my illness. The defined benefit pension plan as we know it -- that my father, as career Army, and my FIL, as career union, took for granted -- has crumbled during my career. When I first took EE benefits courses in 1986, the big mantra was about the "three-legged stool of retirement -- pensions, Social Security and savings." IRAs/ and 401(k)s were part of the "savings" -- traditional retirement plans were the pensions. HA! Now most people are lucky if they have two wobbly legs on that stool.
The financial aid system in this country is seriously messed up. No argument from me there. People who save seem to be penalized at every turn. The prospects of people who can't/don't save for retirement scare me, too. As part of my last job, I made presentations to enroll employees in 401(k) plans. So many people are living so close to the edge now -- how can they think of saving for something that's years down the road? And what lies at the end of that road? I have four sibs, and none have anything put away for retirement or college. Three of the four have teenagers. None have jobs that provide a pension.
Glad to discuss this offlist, Reflectivemom.
P.S. Cross-posted with thumper: Many public service jobs have required employee contributions. Have seen it professionally and personally. Agree that FA ought to consider looking at assets outside of retirement vehicles and consider them pension assets in certain circumstances.
Last edited by CountingDown; 01-28-2008 at 07:50 PM.
Reason: cross-posted, another thought