Roseanne is a retired USPS employee with an extensive background in USPS retirement, disability retirement, OWCP, EEO, Labor Relations and HR. She conducts individual and group counseling and is able to comprehensively discuss the pros and cons of employees who are on OWCP, disability retirement and regular retirement. Roseanne will be happy to answer your postal retirement questions. Contact Roseanne at roseanne.jefferson@icloud.com.

Good Day Postal Employees!!

Before I get into these bi-monthly questions, YOU ARE GOING TO WANT TO HEAR THIS!!

Let me talk about my experience with turning 65. As we all know, or should know –
that when we turn 65 (and we are no longer working) Medicare Part A becomes your primary hospital insurance. This is something we have paid for….for a long time. If you are still working, look on your pay stub, CSRS (1); CSRS/Offset (5); FERS (8); FERS w/Frozen CSRS (A) we all alike have paid for Medicare. (FYI those ( ) are your retirement “codes”).

OR another way to say it – is that Medicare Part A is the FIRST or the primary payor of the hospital bill, and your secondary insurance, typically your actual health insurance, will also pay “their” portion, and of course, if a co-pay is required, then you would pay that too.

And so….I am the test case for all of us, or some of us. I set up my Social Security account at age 62, not because I was ever going to receive a Social Security check, WHY NOT?……because I am a CSRS retiree. And my retirement system CSRS, did NOT pay into the Social Security fund. (CSRS/Offset people, don’t stroke out….I am NOT talking about you….and YOU KNOW IT!!…YOU KNOW YOU ARE totally different than a straight up CSRS!!!)

But I did that at age 62, so I would be ahead of the game when I did turn 65. At the time, when I inquired about Medicare, I was told that I would be contacted a few months before I turned 65. Now keep in mind again, that my retirement fund CSRS… did NOT pay into Social Security. And if you don’t have 40 quarters of Social Security earnings (which translates to 10 years), (and I didn’t quite have 40); you are not eligible for a Social Security check at age 62. So I turned 65 at the end of 2018, and was expecting to be contacted….or harassed as my husband was, when he was turning 65. But it never happened. The letters from Social Security and Medicare …the over and over again letters, the pressure filled letters…..they never came. And I almost missed the opportunity to sign up, because guess what….they, Social Security/Medicare, were NEVER going to contact me. If you are CSRS you have (according the Social Security Office), 60 days prior to your 65th birthday, and 90 days after your 65th birthday to sign up for Medicare Part A. That is what HAS to happen. YOU HAVE TO BE THE INITIATOR OF YOUR MEDICARE PART A BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT FLAGGED AT ALL IF YOU ARE NOT RECEIVING A SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK, and as a CSRS retiree, I wasn’t. AND YES I know there are some of you full CSRS retiree’s that do receive a SS check (although we both know it has had the “Windfall Elimination” applied to it, so it is) drastically lower than what your SS statement showed it would be….I know…but I can’t give every single caveat when trying to make a point.

Don’t get almost caught like I did. If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part A, and you miss the window of opportunity, your FEHB (Federal Employee Health Benefits) are NOT going to pay your hospital bill like they did before you turned 65. BE AWARE !! Call this a Public Service Announcement…call it a heads up….Just don’t get caught!!

You see ~ all of you FERS employees, are all the way Social Security & Medicare. Us CSRS employees are not. And you all by being in the retirement system that supported Social Security (FERS), and Medicare (which is so tied to Social Security, in that, Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage, if selected, are deducted from your Social Security check).

It was very unsettling for awhile, knowing that I was facing some surgical procedures in the near future. The FEHB plan was very hostile when talking with them. Even when explaining that I received nothing from SS or Medicare relative to signing up for Medicare Part A. OH BOY….their position was firm. They weren’t paying any medical bills/charges until I had obtained Medicare Part A. And it wasn’t automatic. And although I had absolute factual reasoning why I was not already signed up…it truly meant little. I was so hoping I would be able to meet the deadline. With facts in hand, I went back in to ssa.gov, to sign up on line (timely, I might add) feeling pretty good about myself, since I created the account at age 62.

As I enter my log-on ID, I could not remember the answer to one of the test questions. It is a requirement to change an expired password after 6 months of non use. The third test question was…”what was your favorite car”…what a male dominated question that was…. and as a woman, I had no answer then, I have no answer now. So of course after not knowing that all important answer, I was thrown off the system and was required to call the Social Security office directly to make a phone appointment to sign up for Medicare Part A. Between the government shut down and the end of the year, I almost missed the opportunity to sign up for something we ALL HAVE TO HAVE WHEN WE ARE 65 – Medicare Part A. If we don’t, (and keep in mind we have ALL PAID FOR THIS) we will pay some outrageous hospital bills because based on our rules and regulations, FEHB doesn’t have to pay the same AFTER age 65 , versus what they did BEFORE we turned 65!!! And for the record NO, I am not taking Medicare Part B, because we don’t have to. PeriodT

Q 1. I have 12 years as a PTF/regular city carrier. I am now unable to work due to my health. I will be 60 in June. I am in the process of filling out my blue book. I want to use March 2nd as my retirement date. Except for delaying my check is there any reason I can’t use that date? Sincerely, SO

A 1. Hi SO, Unfortunately, you are not eligible to retire. You must be either:
56/57 w/30 or more yrs. of service or
60 w/20 or more yrs. of service or
62 w/ 5 or more yrs. of service.
Roseanne

R 1. Roseanne, I am retiring under MRA plus 10. I was trying to pick a date other than the last day of the month because of my leave running out and wanted to make sure that the only problem with that date is an extended time before the annuity starts. Thank you for your help. I read all your columns. SO

RA 1. Hi SO, If you are retiring under the MRA, I hope you understand that you will have your annuity/pension reduced by 5% for each year that you are under 62. If you are retiring at 56, with 10 or more years, after the calculation, then there is a 30% reduction applied to that for the rest of your life. It will never increase. And understand too, that you are giving up the special supplement payment by retiring under the MRA rules. With that being said, your best bet is to retire at the end of a pay period, or minimally on a Friday. And that makes sense. If you were looking at the month of March it would make more sense to retire on the 29th versus the 31st. If you don’t have enough leave to go that far, then go Friday March 22. If you were going in at the end of April, then the 26th would be a good date as well. In my opinion, as a FERS employee, it makes little sense to retire in the beginning of the month. It is always best to retire at the end of the month, or as close as you can. Good luck, and congratulations on retirement….however it comes…it’s good to be retired. Take care, Roseanne

Q 2. Roseanne, Thank You for sharing your knowledge of all things Postal Retirement! My question is concerning conversion to Medicare for my husband. I am a full-time regular clerk with FEHB coverage, self plus 1. My husband will be 65 in June, so we just received his Medicare card. I am confused and concerned about the Part B option. I have read the Federal Benefits FastFacts Sheet from OPM and the pamphlet enclosed with the Medicare card but am still leery of dropping the Part B option (penalties) and staying with my insurance coverage; which looks like the option we should take. Can you clarify if this is the best choice and will we have at least the same coverage as we have now?Thank You, CJ

A 2. Hi CJ Go to this website to print out the 17page booklet “The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and Medicare”… this is the website…type exactly as it below

www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare/medicare/75-12-final.pdf

Additionally you can go to opm.gov to look at Reg Jones Expert’s View….on Medicare and FEHB, dated January 2, 2019. This is the clarification you need….it will be your choice to decide (after reading that 17 page booklet outlined above) if you want Medicare Part B. Good luck on your retirement. Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, Thanks for what you do. I just started reading your column and it’s been very helpful. I started in the post office in 1991 and will have 30 years in 2021 at age 56. I was activated in the Air Force Reserve in 2004 for 1 year of active duty. I also did about 6 months on active duty on a voluntary basis prior to being activated. Does this reduce my time in the post office by 1 year + or does it remain the same. I am also buying back my active duty military service of 2 years and 9 month prior to joining the USPS. I just to make sure that I have 30 credible years to qualify for SRS. I am really looking forward to retiring in 2021 with the help of SRS, and TSP. Thanks for your time. AB

A 3. Hi AB, I guess I will start with this…..you can’t be credited with double time. What do I mean by that! If you are activated (because it IS active duty) then that time would count towards retirement. It isn’t going to reduce time, because IF you weren’t on “that” active duty, then you would have been working at the post office, or at least that’s my interpretation of what you are saying.

Keep in mind that we are talking active duty validated with a DD214 with a beginning and ending date, of that active duty. So that is why I said you can’t have double time. You were either (after being employed by the USPS) working for the USPS or on active duty, (again, if I am understanding you), and so that time would count (towards retirement). You may have to “buy back” that time, the same way you are buying back your military. But if things were done correctly, then you should have had a form 50 cut on you going to active duty and coming back from active duty…and this really should not be an issue. Let me know if I am on the right track….or I am missing your point. Roseanne

Q 4. Hi Roseanne, I have a question that nobody seems to be able to answer. I have 35 years in as of now. Have been on OWCP rolls for 9 years as part of that. The fers annuity estimate online is only calculating the 35 years on the rolls. Its not including the xtra 1% enhanced annuity for the 9 years Ive been on OWCP but still on the USPS rolls. Do you know where I can find out my total retirement? I called OPM months ago with this question and they said they were forwarding it to a specialist. Nobody ever got back to me. E

A 4. Hi E, When all else fails….OPM is the only answer. I would call back again, you have questions that can only be answered by them. This is not a put you off answer…it is a fact, they are the only ones that can truly answer THAT question. Roseanne

Q 5. Roseanne, Please let me start by thanking you for setting me on the right path to retirement. I’m retired military along with 21 years in the USPS. I’m 59 1/2. About a year and half ago, I changed jobs from a carrier to a labor custodian. Believe me, it’s much easier. I’ve just been hired to work at an office just 5 miles from my house. It is 30 hours a week and that is ok. I know the other custodian is leaving soon. I may chose to stay with the 30 (hr) job for maybe another 5 to 10 years. My wife who is a window clerk cannot retire for 10 more years and really I don’t mind. Money is not a problem but am I killing my postal annuity by staying at 30 hours. Is there a formula for what I might be missing. Thanks for you guidance PG

A 5. Hi PG, There is no formula to change it. It is correct that by working a “less than 40 hour week” position, it will continue to reduce your annuity, which is called the pro-ration factor.

When you call HRSSC they will send a “Benefits Estimate Report” because that is the what is used for employee not working a 40 hours a week position. If you were, it would be an Annuity Estimate versus the Estimate Report. On that report, it will “identify” the rate of the pro ration. If you were to stay in that job, I would order a report every 6 months so you can see how much it actually degrades the annuity. So if you looked and saw that in 10 years….that the money would be hardly any different than if you retired now…that would be a very harsh reality to face, to work 10 more years, and to collect the same as it was if you retired 10 years earlier. I cannot predict for you what it would be, but only that the reduction (pro-ration) would continue by being in that less than 40 hour a week position. I know not an easy decision, especially if you spouse is still working at the PO! My husband retired about 5 years before me and (for me), I felt his “paid his dues” (a familiar term with us USPS folks) so I was happy for him to retire. I am sure your wife would feel the same way. But again….your choice. Roseanne

Q 6. Hi Roseanne, My husband is a full time city carrier. Our question is: would his military time served in the NC National Guard count on his postal retirement? He has 19 years 8 months. L

A 6. Hi L, Only active duty is credible. Now….If he were in the military during times of “conflict” he would have a DD Form 214, that would show if any part of his National Guard service, was active, and thus credible towards retirement. If that is the case, he has an opportunity to “pay” that time back to be credited towards his federal employment and retirement. Then call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273 for assistance with the process. Roseanne

Till We Speak Again…….Roseanne