At the Office of Chief Counsel, you will find a commitment to provide a balance to your work and personal life. And, we offer many benefits that are every bit as competitive as those available at leading private sector firms. In fact, more often than not, our benefits exceed private sector offerings.
Salary at Entry Level
Appointments under the Honors Program are made at a GS 11, Step 8 for J.D. applicants and a GS 12, Step 4 for LL.M. applicants. For more information on the GS pay scale, please go to: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages.
If you are appointed at the GS 11 or GS 12 level, you are eligible for promotion to the next higher grade annually. GS 15 positions and above are usually reserved for supervisors and non-supervisory management officials. Candidates are selected for promotion by a board of senior executives and compete with other candidates for these positions.
Your locality pay will be reviewed and adjusted regularly, based on local labor market conditions. See https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/
The Office of Chief Counsel has a generous awards program, offering you the ability to receive cash awards for superior performance or special achievements.
Annual and Sick Leave
You will start out earning four hours of annual leave and four hours of sick leave every two weeks. After three years, you will earn six hours of annual leave every two weeks. After 15 years, you will earn eight hours of annual leave every two weeks.
The government-wide leave program allows you to voluntarily donate your annual leave to Federal employees, and to request the use of donated leave if you face a personal medical emergency.
There are ten paid holidays annually. The President of the United States may also declare other holidays in recognition of special events.
This leave for attorneys with growing families is generally approved for periods between four and six months. You may use a combination of sick leave, annual leave, and leave without pay for your maternity or paternity needs.
Flexible Work Schedules
You may be able to take advantage of flexible or compressed work schedules. You may also elect to earn credit hours. Once earned, you can use your credit hours to be absent from work for short periods of time for personal reasons. On a pre-approved basis, you may be able to work on special projects from home or at an alternate worksite under the Telework program.
Congress created the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) in 1986, and it became effective on January 1, 1987. Since that time, new Federal civilian employees who have retirement coverage are covered by FERS.
FERS is a retirement plan that provides benefits from three different sources: a Basic Benefit Plan, Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Two of the three parts of FERS (Social Security and the TSP) can go with you to your next job if you leave the Federal Government before retirement. The Basic Benefit and Social Security parts of FERS require you to pay your share each pay period. Your agency withholds the cost of the Basic Benefit and Social Security from your pay as payroll deductions. Your agency pays its part too. Then, after you retire, you receive annuity payments each month for the rest of your life.
The TSP part of FERS is an account that your agency automatically sets up for you. Each pay period your agency deposits into your account amount equal to 1% of the basic pay you earn for the pay period. You can also make your own contributions to your TSP account and your agency will also make a matching contribution. These contributions are tax-deferred. The Thrift Savings Plan is administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
The best way to ensure that your retirement income meets your needs is to start investing in the TSP at the beginning of your federal service, and to continue to do so throughout your career. The TSP is a retirement savings and investment plan for federal employees. The purpose of the TSP is to provide retirement income through savings and tax deferred benefits that many private corporations offer their employees. The TSP is similar to private sector 401(k) plans.
In FERS, the TSP is one part of the three-parts of your retirement package, along with your FERS Basic Annuity and Social Security. For FERS employees that do not participate in TSP, we will still contribute an amount equal to 1 percent of your base pay to your account. If you are contributing your own money, the Service will match your contribution dollar for dollar for the first 3 percent and fifty cents for each dollar for the next 2 percent. For employees contributing 5% of their base pay, the total contribution will equal 10 percent.
You can start, change, stop, and resume TSP contributions at any time. There is no waiting period. You can contribute up to the maximum amount permitted by the Internal Revenue Service regulations. Contributing to the TSP also reduces your taxable income. The more you contribute the less tax you pay up front.
There are five investment funds:
- G Fund (Government Security Investment Fund)
- F Fund (Fixed Income Investment Fund)
- C Fund (Common Stock Index Fund)
- S Fund (Small Capitalization Stock Index Investment Fund)
- I Fund (International Stock Index Investment Fund)
The L Fund (Lifecycle Funds) invests in a mix of the five funds above offered by the TSP based on the date you will need your monies. The mixture of each of the five life cycle funds will have varying percentages of the above funds balancing risk, return and security factors.
For more information on the Thrift Savings Plan visit the TSP website at http://www.tsp.gov/. A good reference booklet of the TSP program is the Summary of the Thrift Savings Plan, which you can download at http://www.tsp.gov/forms/tspbk08.pdf.
You can choose from a variety of health insurance plans, and the government pays a substantial portion of the cost. Group-term life insurance and long-term care insurance plans are also available to you.
- Heath Benefits - The IRS participates in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), one of the best health care insurance programs in the world. You can choose from a variety of health care plans and options, and your IRS health benefits cover you and your family members at reasonable rates. This program offers:
- One of the widest selections of plans in the country
- Annual open season
- Coverage that continues into retirement, at the same rate
- Pre-tax options
- No waiting periods. You can use your benefits as soon as your coverage becomes effective. There are no pre-existing condition limitations even if you change plans.
- A choice of coverage. You can choose self-only coverage for you, or self and family coverage for you, your spouse, and unmarried dependent children under age 22. Under certain circumstances, your FEHB enrollment may cover your disabled child 22 years old or older who is incapable of self-support.
- A Government contribution. The Government pays 72 percent of the average premium toward the total cost of the premium, but not more than 75 percent of the total premium for any plan.
- Salary deduction. You pay your share of the premium through a payroll deduction and have the choice of doing so using pretax dollars.
- A choice of plans and options.
- Fee-for-Service (FFS) plans
- Plans offering a Point of Service (POS) product
- Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO)
If you are in an eligible position, you have 60 days from your entry on duty date to sign-up for a health insurance plan. Otherwise, you may enroll during the Federal Benefits Open Season which is held each year beginning the second Monday in November through the second Monday in December. You can also enroll or make changes outside of Open Season if you have a qualifying life event (QLE) such as the birth of a child, divorce or other qualifying event.
If you don't make an election within 60 days from becoming eligible, you are considered to have declined coverage, and you must wait until the next open season or QLE to enroll. Except for open season, most enrollments are effective the first day of the first pay period after the agency receives your SF-2809, Health Benefits Election form. The enrollment must follow a pay period during any part of which you’re in pay status. You can get all the latest information at the OPM web site, just go to http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/index.asp.
- Dental - The Federal Employees’ Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) is available to eligible federal employees, retirees, and their eligible family members on an enrollee-pay-all basis. Employee must be eligible for FEHB in order to be eligible to enroll in FEDVIP. This Program allows dental and vision insurance to be purchased on a group basis which means competitive premiums and no pre-existing condition limitations. Premiums for enrolled federal employees are withheld from your salary on a pre-tax basis. If eligible, you can enroll in a dental plan and/or a vision plan. You may enroll in a plan for self-only, self plus one, or self and family coverage. Eligible family members include an enrollee's spouse and unmarried dependent children under the age of 22, or if age 22 or older, incapable of self-support. The rules for family members' eligibility are the same as they are for the FEHB Program. Enrollment will take place during the annual Federal Benefits Open Season in November and December. New and newly eligible employees can enroll within the 60 days after they become eligible. You can get all the latest information at the OPM web site, just go to http://www.opm.gov/insure/dental/index.asp, for dental plans, or go to http://www.opm.gov/insure/vision/index.asp for vision plans The official enrollment website for Federal Vision and Dental Insurance is BENEFEDS at https://www.benefeds.com/
- Long Term Care - The Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) is insurance that helps you pay for long term care services, such as home care, adult day care, hospice care or care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. It also includes caregiver training. If you are eligible, you have 60 days from your entrance date to apply for Long Term Care Insurance using the abbreviated underwriting application with only a few health-related questions. If you apply AFTER the 60 day period, you will have to use the long underwriting application with numerous health-related questions, and possibly a review of medical records and/or an interview with a nurse. There are no annual open seasons for Long Term Care. Eligible employees may apply anytime. Long term care insurance is NOT just for older people. Forty percent of the persons receiving long term care are working age adults between the ages of 18 and 64. Cost is based on your age when you apply. Insurance premiums are paid completely by you and premiums are withheld on a biweekly basis from the salary check. You can get all the latest information at the OPM web site, just go to http://www.opm.gov/insure/ltc/. And, for even more information go to the LTCFEDS website at http://www.ltcfeds.com/
- Group Life Insurance - The Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance Program (FEGLI) offers Basic Life Insurance that is equal to your annual basic pay, rounded to the next higher $1,000, plus $2,000. So for example, if your annual salary is $48,108, your insurance would first be rounded to $49,000, then have $2,000 added, making your basic life insurance coverage $51,000. You can also get three types of optional insurance:
- Option A, Standard — in the amount of an additional $10,000 of coverage.
- Option B, Additional — in an amount from one to five times your annual basic pay (after rounding up to the next $1,000).
- Option C, Family — provides coverage for your spouse and eligible dependent children in multiples from one to five. Each multiple is equal to $5,000 for your spouse and $2,500 for each eligible child.
If you're in a FEGLI-eligible position, you're automatically enrolled in Basic Life Insurance, which is effective on the first day you enter in a pay and duty status UNLESS you waive this coverage before the end of your first pay period. You do NOT get any optional insurance automatically – you must complete an SF-2817, Life Insurance Election form to enroll in the coverage. You have 31 days from your entry date to sign up for any Optional life insurance. If you do not make an election, you are considered to have waived optional insurance. No proof of insurability is required for the Basic insurance you get upon being hired, or any optional insurance you sign-up for during the first 31 days. Proof of insurability may be required for insurance changes after that time. The cost of Basic insurance is shared between you and the Government. You pay 2/3 of the total cost and the Government pays 1/3. Your age does not affect the cost of Basic insurance. You pay the full cost of Optional insurance, and the cost depends on your age. You can get all the latest information at the OPM web site, just go to http://www.opm.gov/insure/life/index.asp.
The Office of Chief Counsel will help pay for your public transportation commuting costs. Since 2002, those who commute via public transportation are eligible to receive a subsidy.
Quality of Life
Work is a major part of your life, but you have other interests and responsibilities as well. For your convenience, several offices throughout the country offer you available credit unions, daycare facilities, fitness centers, and onsite healthcare facilities.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
As an employee of the federal government, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (“PSLF”) Program. You must meet specific requirements to qualify. More information about the PSLF Program can be found here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service