Good Day Postal Employees

As I was driving past one of the many local post offices in my area, I noticed there was an 18 X 24 cardboard sign on metal stakes, placed in the front of that post office, in which simply said “Hiring….Inquire Within”…Naturally, as a former HR/Personnel Manager…I was livid! And where I live…and because of a variety of reasons…many of the local post offices know who I am….I walked in and said….”IS THIS how were doing it NOW!?!”……..the response was “Roseanne, this is how it is…..do you want to come back as a temporary rural carrier?………needless to say, I cannot and will not give the exact wording to my answer…..but it was a no.

Q 1. Good evening and thank you for all of your valuable retirement information on Postal Mag.

I am 58 years young with 32 years in the Postal Service. My wife and I don’t expect to retire until maybe age 62, since our daughter is starting college in the fall, and also because we are now in the process researching our retirement options. Question : Does the Postal Service offer allow In Service Distribution (IDS), to roll over my retirement funds into an IRA, once I reach 59 ½. This will allow me to shift assets from a taxable bracket to a tax advantage bracket. I would appreciate your expertise on this subject. G

A 1. G, Once you are “retired” there are SO MANY options within the TSP (program) that would allow for a variety of moving your financial assets from taxable to a tax advantage. However, I would advise to look at ALL the options within the TSP program. Keep in mind…when you “roll your money over” which is a term I hear repeatedly….look at their “office”….(who do YOU think pays for that….) so…TSP which has Metropolitan Life as their “carrier”, and is the major federal carrier…the “fees” are much more reasonable then other companies. AND WHY….because as a general rule federal employees are lazy and will take the easy way out….and go with MetLife, which is probably the best choice anyway…(just an opinion). There are other companies “handling” monies in the TSP fund versus Met Life, such as Merrill Lynch, Stanley Morgan….etc…just some helpful info. This is your retirement money…DO YOUR RESEARCH !! Roseanne

AND Yes you are eligible for your TSP immediately after you have received your PS Form 50 showing your status as retired. (OPEN YOUR MAIL). You should go to tsp.gov…to review the many options they have as an employee and as a retiree. Roseanne

Q1a. Thank You for your prompt reply. What if I do not retire at 59 ½, am I allowed to transfer my TSP investments into an IRA.

A1a. The possibilities are endless once you retire, regardless if you are 59 1/2 or not. ONCE you retire…you can begin to collect your TSP in whatever manner you choose. Contact the Thrift Savings Program or go to tsp.gov for some great information, to make you “loose” that 59.5 mentality. Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne, No one can tell me what the USPS Retirement amount is at the bottom right of my pay stub? It changes the first pay of the new year and one guess was its my yearly annuity payment but I can’t get a definitive answer. Help please? CJ

A 2. Hi CJ, That amount of money is what YOU have put into the FERS retirement system. It never changes except once a year…when the YTD (Year To Date) is added to the bottom total in PP 2. And the pay cycle keeps the PP (Pay Period) and YTD…which again is added at PP 2. Roseanne

Q2a. So, is that the ‘retire’ line deduction on my pay stub? Is this amount then part of my USPS retirement I’ll eventually receive from USPS?

A2a. HI CJ, in a sense yes……but in reality …..IT WILL BE SO MUCH MORE than YOU ever put in the fund, that you will have paid back to you. It becomes more obvious that statement I just made – when you look at your annuity estimate and your pay stub….and then you see the correlation to the amount of money on the bottom of the pay stub, and the amount of money that is shown on the annuity estimate as “your deposits”(to the retirement fund). That money is NOT PAID IN A LUMP SUM, as so many tend to think. If you look at an annuity estimate, you would see that the amount YOU put into the FERS fund…is typically less than ONE year of your annuity. Order an estimate and you will see what I am talking about. Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, I thought I would try you, since No one can tell me what Lost Time is yet??? I have asked many employees…..nothing. I am going to a seminar this weekend about retirement, do you think they can answer it S.

A 3. Hi S, If this is a REAL informational seminar, versus….”I’m really just trying to get you to buy an annuity with my company” then all of your questions should be answered in that session. Let me know how it turns out. Roseanne

R: Never got a response back from the writer…..so the answer is that Lost Time has to do with military time. More of an answer would just add to any one’s confusion. Roseanne

Q4. Hi Roseanne, I have seen many articles about you and what you write on postal mag and wanted to get some advice from you. I have been with the postal service since 2012 and became a FTR since end of 2015. I have 2 with a potential 3rd owcp claims not to mention I’ve already had to have shoulder surgery and have received a schedule award also. I contribute the max into a Roth IRA account through TSP. I’ve also had to file 2 EEO’s so far in my career. I’m reaching out to you in hopes that you’re willing to give me any information or advice in regards to the pros and cons of me having these OWCP claims, USPS retirement, medical disability retirement and EEO’S. Whatever advice / information you’re willing to offer will be grateful… Thanks In Advance

A5. Just from your email, the first thing I notice, is that you have only been with the organization for 6 years and already have 2 EEO’s, 2 possibly 3 OWCP claims, and I am sure the wrath of the Postal Service within this short period of time of 2 EEO’s and perhaps 3 OWCP claims has not been easy. The only thing that I could possibly offer would be to try and stay healthy. However, if your physicians feel that you are unable to continue to perform the duties of your postal position, then perhaps you should seek disability retirement with the postal service. To begin that process would be to call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273 for information regarding disability retirement. As a FERS employee, keep in mind that if you do decide to apply for disability retirement, part the requirement for “filing” is that you MUST also file for SSDI with the Social Security Administration, as Social Security is one of the 3 portions of the FERS retirement plan. Roseanne

Q6. Hi Roseanne. I’ve been reading your column for years and am finally getting in gear for retirement. December 3 is my 30 yr. anniversary date. I already have my annuity/Special Supplement estimate. I don’t want to work another Christmas and plan to make December 8 my official reirement date (end of pp) . I know my annuity will be figured from January 2019. I have leave in November. Because carriers can’t get approved leave in December, and I would not want my retirement be penalized in any way if I use unscheduled sick leave for the gap from Nov to 12/8? Only talking about 10 days. Thanks for taking so much of your time and wealth of knowledge to help so many weave through this tangled maze of retirement!! You have been the light that shines the way for years….K

A6. Hi K, The question “would your retirement be penalized in any way if you were to use unscheduled sick leave…(from Nov…to 12/8).
The only down side I see is if the unscheduled leave were disapproved, sick leave or annual leave….and if so, then that time would be consider LWOP. By the time you “request…ask…tell…or attempt to take the unscheduled leave”…the office you work for already is going to know that you are going to retire….and no doubt will expect you asking for that leave. So how YOU stand in your office WITH YOUR MGR/PM/SUPV plays a great role in how you “leave”, or what “annual leave would be approved”. But don’t think that when you ask for this UNEXPECTED leave….its unexpected…..they will be expecting you to ask…..everyone does…and honey….they will too …when they retire….just sayin’. Roseanne

Q6a. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Just as a follow-up, if they did LWOP me, they would later pay me for the unused sick leave right? Also, is there a minimum amount of leave SL/AL they will pay you for? Or is there a “use it or lose it” situation?

A6a. Hi K, Well you never actually get paid for sick leave the same way you get paid for annual leave. Sick leave is combined with your total years and months of service. So sick leave adds to the months ( or years ) in calculating your retirement. Annual leave is paid up to 440 hrs. for a craft employee, if it is “earned”. If you retire in June (as an example)…you only “earned 220”, (by July)…but have been “advanced” the entire 440 at the beginning of the year in PP2 (before it is truly “earned”). For you, and your situation….your plan is the best, as I cannot predict what management will do. Keep that in mind when retiring NOT at the end of the year. If you are in a use it or lose it situation….I am telling you….you will lose…so BURN THE LEAVE…. Roseanne

Q7. Hi Roseanne, I am a 36 year old letter carrier with 11 years of service. I have multiple OTJ injuries, one of them being rotator cuff repair in 2016. My doctor and physical therapist did not think I could carry the mail bag again, but I could not get a reassignment. I went back to work in 2017 and developed tendonitis in my wrist. My doctor said I can not continue to carry mail or I will need surgery. The Post Office is saying this is not an OJI. Can I do a disability retirement or are there such things as medical reassignments?

A7. If you have exhausted all options for reassignment, because you physically cannot do “your position title” then you may want to call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273 and request information for applying for disability retirement. Knowing that you are a FERS employee and a part of your retirement is Social Security, you will also be “required” to apply for SSDI in conjunction with applying for disability retirement with OPM (federal retirement). If you have a doctor that will narrate your inability to do your current job now, or perhaps ever, that is half the battle. But as a federal/postal employee, and a FERS employee with more than 18 months of credible service, you have the right to file for a disability retirement. This is a long process, so I would encourage you to begin immediately. Roseanne

Q8. Hello Roseanne, I appreciate your help. I am eligible to retire under FERS and have been trying to learn as much as possible. My biggest question is on the survivor benefit. The way I understand it is you have to take a partial one at least to keep your spouse under the health care . If so how much do you have to take and is that the best way to go? Again , thanks for your help. M

A8. Hi M, Once your annuity is calculated, then providing your spouse a spousal annuity upon you passing away, is a reduction of 10%, (to your monthly annuity) and that would provide your spouse half of the original amount (of your annuity was). You also have a lessor choice, which is a reduction of 5% and leave the spouse 25% of what the original amount of your annuity was. That (lessor) choice will require your spouse to sign her “rights” away with a notarized signature. Is that the best way to go full spousal….yes….and besides that….it’s the law. That is why if you don’t do the full, if you choose the lessor choice or choose to NOT give the spouse an annuity…..that spouse has to have the signature notarized understanding what “benefit” they are giving up. Roseanne

Q8a. Hello Roseanne, Thanks for your reply. If you take the lesser choice you can still have wife on insurance? We are trying to decide which is the best option for us as we have other assets. We are working the numbers. Do you think carrying the life insurance would be more beneficial? Again thanks and I probably will be bothering you with more questions soon. M

A8a.Hi M, Yes…that is one of the benefits of taking the “lessor” (25%) spousal annuity…(versus 50% full annuity) should you pass away. With either of those choices your spouse is eligible not only for a monthly check but to continue YOUR federal health benefits as well. You have two choices….full 50% benefits or partial 25% benefits. Both will allow the spouse to continue federal health benefits should you pre-decease your spouse. Roseanne

Q9. Dear Roseanne Jefferson..First… I just cannot thank you enough and tell you how appreciated you and your insight and advice has been all these years…My husband retired in 2013 and I retired in 2015..and because of your articles and information / knowledge that you shared…. it has been and IS so awesome…I cannot begin to tell you all your articles and knowledge …how much they have helped make our retirement the best. I hope the years have been good to you.

I have another question, though…and am hoping your knowledge can give us some insight on the next step… medicare age.We still have a few years… and I know how quickly things can change…but perhaps you can steer us to the right dept…and right questions to ask when we are ready.And I know don’t know all the circumstances..but I will explain and ask my question the best I canBased on past questions I’ve seen you answer…. our Fed medical insurance plan that we got to keep..and chose to keep..is our primary insurance carrier.
I believe that when we reach Medicare age…. we “must” opt in to Medicare Part A only..we do Not have to choose Medicare Part B… because 1) we don’t need to as our Fed plan should cover everything – including our prescription ..thus no need for part C and D2) why should we pay the extra 104.00 (for now) each month on top of our FED plan .However, never knowing when or if the government may change and possibly take away our employer plan and force us all into medicare.I’ve come across a few people…that had no need for the Prescription plan (it is unclear if she opted in for Medicare part B at the age she should have) …but claimed she was super healthy and did not need it or the extra expense.when she reached her 70s…she had some medical set backs..and now has been penalized for not opting in for (she states) the Medicare part D Plan… I know there is a penalty for not signing up for Medicare part A and B at 65..My question is: IF I sign up for Med Part A when I’m 65 …but opt out of the Med Part B, C and D because my Fed insurance plan covers everything…..and then something drastically changes and at the age of 66 – 70 and our employer plan ceases and we are now forced into full on Medicare….. will we be penalized because we had insurance and opted to not sign up?? Which you would think they would be happy…look at all the monies people like us have saved the Medicare plans.What kind of questions would I ask when we get closer to 65..( I have 5 more years and my husband has about 2 years) and is there a department that specialized in FEDERAL employees special circumstances with their health insurance.Thank you for everything you have done in all these years…and for your time.

A9. I will speak with this couple….but for all of you…here is my answer…and I will say absolutely NOTHING ELSE….if you are smart….and have been reading my column for almost a decade…..this is NOT the first time I have given you all this….type it EXACTLY AS IT IS WRITTEN WITHOUT THE 2.

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

ATTENTION: I will be 65 in November….I am a CSRS retiree (and of course as former postal employee ..and you can tell just by my attitude…have been in so many positions and both craft, union and management). Based on my years of service and the bi-weekly contribution on my pay stub for Medicare….that was for Medicare Part A. HEY Y’ALL WE PAID FOR THIS!! This is NOT A DAMN GIFT…WE ALL HAVE FULLY FUNDED THIS PROJECT called Medicare Part A.

OK so now, Medicare Part B, for CSRS Roseanne…who gets no Social Security check (because she is a full fledged CSRS retiree)…and never will….what would they take this “SUPPOSED” REQUIRED Medicare Part B payment from? This is why I have been writing this column for the last 9 nine years…………think about that…..

Till we speak again……Roseanne