Good Day Postal Employees

10/15/2010

Today is my first column and I am honored to be able to share with you knowledge, tips and encouragement to my extended postal family. If any of you have gone to a training facility; or a class that employees from other post offices; districts or Area’s attended, I am sure you have found that your issues, problems and concerns were shared by all. Typically this information is found out during break-out sessions, or perhaps when groups gather for dinner. A clerk in San Antonio will have the problems that a clerk in Chicago will have. But that’s not to say that all post offices run the same. They DO NOT. The “standards & procedures” may be the same, but each office, each Postmaster and each Supervisor will run their operations differently. We have strived for years to standardize our operating procedures in every function that we do, (sometimes to the point of being ridiculous) but carrying out those standards are always office, plant, BMC, district and area specific. That is a FACT. I am sure I would be challenged on that statement, but nevertheless, it’s true.

I am laying a foundation in PostalMag for us to build upon as we journey through answered Q&A’s, and columns that I will write addressing specific subjects. I had a statement that I used for years during my employment (specifically when I was in Management) “My integrity is not for sale, and it is not for rent either”. Not a popular statement with upper management. I have always felt that postal employees deserved far more than what they were getting, in many different circumstances, information being the biggest. Not so much what is going on with the organization, although that true, but of benefits, and your rights. More times than not, you find out something about the PO through the 6pm news broadcast. If you work in a district, you may even have 3 or 4 flat screen TV’s dedicated to postal news. But that only touches the very few. You may have the same in a Plant or BMC, but with a 15 minute break or 30 minute lunch, you have little time to digest your food, let alone postal information. I have come to understand many things in the various positions I held, both Form 50 positions and details, and that is YOU HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF YOU. Yes, I know easy statement, hard to live by in the environment you work in. Understand I am not talking about the slackers, and we all know who they are. They are in every facility that we have. I am talking to you, those who care about their job and their employer as well. As employees we can’t take, take, take and not give back to this organization with a fair day’s work, because we all know we are paid very well. Be proactive about your health & safety, your career and your finances. I am looking forward to a great relationship with you all….Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A October 2010

Good day postal employees!

This has been a busy couple of weeks for me, being so close to the end of year & the early out for Maintenance Supervision it has been hectic. I do one-on-one individual retirement sessions that include filling out all the paperwork, analysis of your life insurance (including telling you the REAL DEAL (because that annuity statement as it relates to life insurance is MISLEADING!!!)); health benefits, TSP. My client’s walked away knowing what their net monthly annuity would be. Last year before I retired, I did over 40 group counseling seminars throughout the state, (the PO had the get every ounce because they knew once I left, no one had the retirement knowledge I had) and now most of my clients have been those who attended one of my seminars. I have been busy with that, and answering questions that have been generated from you, the readers of PostalMag.com. The questions are real, and my responses to them are real.

INFORMATION: Payment Date for VERA EARLY OUT 2ND PAYMENT of $5000.00 – October 29, 2010

Q On July 31 2009 I took the early retirement offer from the Postal Service. As you know, the Postal Service offered an in incentive of $15,000 to clerks and mail handlers to retire after stating in May 2009 that there was no money for incentives. My question is; Is there any class action law suit out there concerning this matter or is this a dead issue? Thank you in advance for your response.

A You and I both!! I too retired July 31, 2009. I have not heard that the NAPS or NAPUS or the League of Postmasters have filed any class action on this issue. I was led to believe that NAPS was going to initiate some type of legal action regarding this matter. As of to date, I have not seen any activity on this issue. If it does, I will post that information in PostalMag.

Q If I retire and have 11 weeks of annual leave accrued, I know that I should get paid for that. What I am wondering if any holidays fall during that time do I get paid for them also. Such as if I retired in October 1, would I get also get paid for Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving. Do they get added to my 11 weeks of leave?

A The technical answer is you are only paid for leave while you are ACTIVE on the postal rolls. So if your retirement date is October 1st, then on any holiday that falls after your retirement date, you are no longer active and could not be paid for leave when you are no longer an employee. To follow up, no they are not added to your AL, again because those holidays are after you are no longer employed.

Q Looking forward to your articles. I have a question on unused A/L. If I retire Dec 31, will I get paid for my use or lose annual leave over the carry over limit?

A Great question. All “earned annual” should be paid to you, should you retire on Dec. 31 even if it’s over the carry over for EAS or Craft. WHY, because you are NOT carrying it over…you have earned it. You only lose it when you carry over the maximum to the next year.

Next Time: ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES AND TIPS ON ANNUAL LEAVE WHEN RETIRING

Till we talk again in November…..Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A November 2010 Part 1

Good Day Postal Employees

INFORMATION: Payment Date for VERA EARLY OUT 2ND PAYMENT of $5000.00 – October 29, 2010: Payment scheduled to be sent to YOUR LAST OFFICE OF EMPLOYMENT (Plant; Station; Assoc Office)

Annual Leave that is paid to you after you retire, needs to be thought about. Annual Leave is, what you carried over from the prior year; and your earned annual leave (less what you used during the year).

One of the things that you should think about when you retire is the actual date and month that you plan to retire. CSRS can retire any time, FERS can retire anytime, any day… This should cause you to read… Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it’s the best financial decision for you. The reason for the confusion is that CSRS can retire on the first, second or third of any month and still be eligible for an annuity in that month. Not so with FERS. FERS cannot retire on first, second or third of any month and still be eligible for an annuity in that month, they will be eligible on the first of the next month. Let me share some examples.

FERS – retire on Jan 31st… Annuity begins Feb 1 CSRS – retire on Jan31st… Annuity begins Feb 1

FERS – retire on Feb 1… Annuity begins on Mar 1 CSRS – retire on Feb 3,… Annuity begins Feb 1

FERS – retire on July 12… Annuity begins on Aug 1 CSRS – retire on July 12… Annuity begins Aug 1

What you try to do is – retire timely enough, so that your money has a smooth nearly uninterrupted process. You need to be strategic in your planning, mailing. You should have your retirement paperwork in to HRSSC at least 90 days, which is what is recommended. I should say it like this, when your retirement package is received by HRSSC, and processed in, that day an email will be generated to your district office, and forwarded to your PM, Plant Mgr. POOM etc. The email informs them of your retirement.

The retirement Form 50 that was initiated by HRSSC, triggered the process of your last paycheck, and your annual leave either on the same check as your last work hours, or a separate check that is mailed to your work location. The reason for the timely retirement mailing is so that by the time you get your last paycheck and/or annual leave, about 2-3 weeks after that you will be receiving information from OPM regarding your retirement.

If you are thinking about retirement, and you have a high annual leave balance, I would recommend that you retire at the end of the year. The reason is that you want your annual leave paid to you in the next year, so that your taxes for the year you were working (your gross annual income). If you retired like I did in the middle of the year (July), my annual leave was paid to me in August. First it was taxed as if I made that every two weeks. I was taxed over 40% on just the check alone. So I got 60% of the value of the annual leave, looking at it from a financial perspective. But the real problem was that when I filed taxes, I had income from the Post Office; my annual leave, and my annuity for the second half of the year. Had I retired in December (would have, but my early out was by July 31, 2009), my annual leave would have been paid to me in the year 2010, and not 2009, and my tax liability would have been far less. So, retire at the end of the year. It’s so much better for you.

ROSEANNE QUOTE: IT IS FAR MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO USE YOUR LEAVE RATHER THAN TO GET IT IN A CHUNK. IT HAS MORE FINANCIAL VALUE WHEN IT’S USED, THAN PAID…..REALLY

NEXT TIME: OPM AND YOUR RETIREMENT **************Till we talk again, Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A November 2010 Part 2

Good Day Postal Employees

Q. I tried to see if I was correct for MRA. I am 55 years of age, my high three salary is $81,315, and I have 24 years in. So would my MRA be $19,515.60 (19,516). If this is correct, how would this figure be distributed to me, (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly)?

I will not be 56 until next year. Would it be better for me to wait until 56 years of age, which I do believe my Personal Statement says age 56 or MRA.

A. MRA means minimum retirement age. Based on your age, (born 1953-1964) your minimum retirement age is 56. Unless you were offered an early out for your specific craft, you cannot retire until you turn at least 56.

As far as your monthly annuity, of 81,315, it will be calculated at 1% of your high 3, (813.00 X 24 = %19, 512). However by retiring with MRA and 24 years, your annuity will be reduced by 5% for each year under 62. In your case that would be 6 years X 5%=30%. So your 19,512 would be reduced by 30%, (5854). That would mean 19,512.- 5854, leaves you with an annual annuity of $13,658 or $1,138 per month, and that would be with NO spousal annuity. With a full survivor benefits (another wording for spousal annuity), you would be at $ 12,293 per year or 1024 per month. The survivor annuity would be $6829 per year or $569 per month. This is why hardly anyone can afford to retire MRA and 10 because unless you are offered an early out, you are not eligible for the special retirement supplement, paid by OPM.

I use this question as a platform for those employees in the FERS retirement system. Many employees are puzzled as to why they have such a lower monthly annuity than their CSRS counterparts. The FERS is a 3 tiered program. The large amount of monthly annuity comes from the employee and employer contributions in TSP. The Agency (Postal Service) pays into CSRS pays a little over 7% bi-weekly of their gross salary, and the same is deducted from the CSRS employee’s paycheck. Whereas, FERS the Postal Service pays 1% to the retirement fund, pays into social security (as does the employee) and 1% if the employee does nothing to match the employer funds. When similarly situated employees retire with FERS or CSRS, and they have the same years and age, the HUGE difference in their monthly annuity is found in the TSP area. The only way for a FERS employee to have a fulfilling retirement, is to ensure you MAKE the post office match the TSP contributing funds. Quite frankly, you are letting them off the hook by not putting the max in TSP and forcing them to contribute to your retirement. I guess they feel…if you don’t care about your retirement to put in your full amount…why should they. This is the basis for the FERS system. CSRS was and is too expensive for employers to put that 7% in for each employee. If you have put the max in TSP, retire with 30 years at your required age, with the postal annuity, social security and TSP, you will have a NICE combined monthly retirement, maybe even better than CSRS.

I am sure the comment section will blow up about this. Many of you who have written in the comment section have a very narrow base of knowledge, have quoted outdated pub’s, or have just generally been negative about the information. Of all the comments I have received, none of the negative comments have been from the people who asked questions, and I have answered a lot of emails assisting employees. FERS folks, take charge of your retirement, you the employee have the ability to grow a great retirement fund. Till the next time we talk…Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A December 2010 Part One

Good Day Postal Employees

My Christmas Gift to you: How to take Inventory of Your eOPF

November 2010 has produced many questions from all of you out there at PostalMag.com. I have answered each one and hopefully most have taken the advice and benefited. My column is pretty much geared to assisting employees in the process of retiring – because, “it just ain’t like it used to be”. No matter how much retiring on the phone is so distasteful to all of us, I just don’t seeing it going anywhere. It’s difficult to try to process the whole retirement concept when you are unfamiliar like most are. Like my first concern would be, as should yours be, is…how much am I taking home per month? Because that right there…right there…is the breaker for you on whether you going to retire or not. Believe me, I know, I’ve been there and have worked with hundreds of employees getting there; sun setting their postal careers with some type character, and a good feeling knowing a face to face discussion should produce some pride for “job well done”. I know, I was HER, I was the one you went to when you wanted to retire…SORRY…THAT’S GONE, AND IT WON’T COME BACK. WHY?..PROFITABLE? UNPROFITABLE? REGARDLESS, IT’S STAYING. I CAN SHOW YOU WHY, BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS COLUMN IS ABOUT.

I would like to share one of my favorite stories about a Christmas retirement. He was an EAS Postmaster retiring after 35 years. His spouse, she too was postal. They had their ups and down’s in the PO as does everyone. They were excited he was retiring; although she had a few more years to go, as she was just a bit younger. They began on the same day, in the same orientation class, you know back in the day when it really meant something to be in orientation. So when I finished the session, and he was beginning to sign his paperwork, his wife stopped him. She opened up her purse and right there gave him a gift. As he opened it, they both smiled, as it was a pen, engraved with the day and time when he signed his retirement papers. As you see back then…when it meant something. (from the Roseanne Chronicles)

A client informed me this week, they were on the phone with HRSSC. Several retirement questions were discussed, but was then stopped and informed “your seven minutes is up, I cannot answer anymore questions, and you will have to call back”. Now of course to make this claim, for my protection, I obviously made sure that the client called the local services staff @the district office to tell them the same thing so it’s on record, with an “H-Ticket number”. This is your only source of record; you may never get the same person on the phone twice on any situation EVER. THIS IS A VALUABLE PIECE OF ADVICE….AN H TICKET NUMBER !!

How do I know so much, THEY HIRED ME AND MY DISTRICT WOULDN’T RELEASE ME. But I had to learn their ever changing systems. From my perspective, you have no idea the impact of just getting all of your OPF’s into that eOPF system. Papers had to be counted (each opf), chain of custody…all that good, for the employee. For me it was brutal, but I was one of the dedicated employees who could have just bs’d it through, but I didn’t.

Your Christmas Gift: So valuable!!! TAKE A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE – Go into your eOPF on postalease, for Christmas and go back and read about yourself. There is a lot of your personal history in your OPF. Letters of recommendation, or when you worked on a project that you may have have forgot about. While you are there, make sure every page is about you. Understand that just because you don’t have a hard copy file any longer of your OPF, you still need to make sure all that in the eOPF is you. Mistakes have been made, and I have corrected them, but only if I knew. Sometimes there is old discipline, that everyone thought was out, and wasn’t. Have fun looking at all you have done.

Postal Retirement Q&A December 2010 Part Two

Hi Just a last minute reminder…if you need dental of vision care for this year…you only have

6 Days Remaining

Federal Benefits Open Season ends Monday, December 13th.

The Open Season Checklist http://www.opm.gov/insure/openseason/checklist.pdf is a handy guide to actions you need to take this open season to insure you have the FEHB, FEDVIP and FSAFEDS benefits you want.

You must use BENEFEDS to enroll or change enrollment in a FEDVIP plan. BENEFEDS is a secure enrollment website (www.BENEFEDS.com) sponsored by OPM. If you do not have access to a computer, call 1-877-888-FEDS (1-877-888-3337), TTY number 1-877-889-5680 to enroll or change your enrollment.

You must use the FSAFEDS site to enroll in FSAFEDS. https://www.fsafeds.com/fsafeds/warning.asp Please contact an FSAFEDS Benefits Counselor at 1-877-FSAFEDS (372-3337), (TTY: 1-800-952-0450), Monday through Friday, 9:00 A.M. until 9:00 P.M., Eastern Time for additional information.

You can get all the details at the Opens Season web page http://www.opm.gov/insure/openseason/index.asp

As a retiree, I found this to be a great value…just do the research on the state you live and the plans available to you…it is VERY AFFORDABLE.

Till we talk again Merry Christmas and & Happy New Year…Roseanne

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