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Information on this page is provided by Roseanne Jefferson. 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
Postal Retirement Q&A August 2013
Good Day Postal Employees!! Again thank you all for the prayers for my daughter. She has had her surgery and is now undergoing more chemotherapy and then will follow up with radiation. We are very grateful for all that have said a prayer or kept our family in your thoughts.

For some reason this has been a very active month in terms of my email activity. Many of your questions are very similar in nature, which says to me that the unbelievable lack of information is not isolated to one district, or even one area but all over. Many of you out there struggle to find out information that is contained at YOUR fingertips. I was relating a story the other day when I was doing a retirement about how we (HR) would offer informational classes (not just at the "Career Awareness Conferences"�(talk about a blast from the past), but either at a District office or Plant. So many times employees would only come if it was HERE YA GO�."ON THE CLOCK"� These classes were to designed to reinforce what was told during orientation (which all of us would obviously forget) regarding retirement. It amazed me how the majority of employees would not take an hour or two on THEIR TIME, to come and learn about their retirement. One thing I learned early in my career about the post office�get ready�.�.THE ONLY THING THAT REMAINS THE SAME IS��CHANGE!! WHAT DID SHE SAY ABOUT THE INFORMATION BEING AT OUR FINGERTIPS�yes�.you need to go to MYHR on liteblue and much of the information you want to know about YOU or your employment, is contained in your eOPF. I HAVE SAID THIS MANY TIMES BEFORE - YOU NEED TO REVIEW YOUR eOPF!!

We change and restructure more than any other organization, in an effort TO IMPROVE (our business)�.AND TO SHOW A PROFIT (because we are the only federal agency that has to). If you think it-s any other reason�. you-re wrong. The business goal for Postal Service should be that and only that�.improve what we do and show a profit�PERIOD.

Q 1. Hi Roseanne, I worked for the postal service from 1966 till 1969. Upon leaving the post office I withdrew what I had paid in toward my retirement. In 1973, I was reinstated and when I retired Jan. 31, 2013 I had a total of 42 years and 4 months . This included sick leave of 1863 hours. I made a redeposit of 400.00 but not the full amount. I called OPM about my money and the lady who processed my paper work told me that I would not get a refund. She told me the money was applied toward my retirement.I was told by someone who worked in finance that I should be refunded my money. Your help will be appreciated.

A 1. YES something is VERY wrong, don-t know precise details of what it is, but something is wrong. First, to pay OPM $400.00 EVEN, no change sends up a warning sign to me. So, where did the $400 amount come from? Meaning did you send in paperwork to HRSSC or was it done years earlier when there were District offices that had a Personnel Office and had them send off to OPM to find out the PRECISE figure of what was "owed back to the retirement fund"?

That makes a difference as to finding out what is the problem. There could be a justifiable reason why OPM told you that you would not receive a refund versus someone in finance (what finance office, the post office, the district finance office, Eagan..which one ??). For OPM to send you a refund would indicate AN OVERPAYMENT. And then next question would be, why in the world did you NOT pay (the rest??) back. Understand, you may not have HAD to pay MORE than the $400, I am just trying to wrap my head around what is going on, so that I can give you some advice. You are a CSRS employee, and the MOST your retirement can be is 80% of your high 3 average salary�.and you achieve that 80%, when you have worked 41 yrs. 11 months. For you to be gone for 3 years�perhaps with the $400.00 (payback) and the 42 years and 4 months (as w/added sick leave) maybe in calculations not only do you not get refund but you don-t owe any money for the period of time that you left. *Very little known info��you can be paid more than 80%, IF you have the 41-11 and you have additional sick leave, over and above what equals 41-11.

That is the only time that a CSRS employee can earn more than 80% in retirement. That being said, based on that information, you gave me and the information that was given to you by OPM, you are not due a refund. That employee in finance did give you correct "general" information, however, your case was not "general" in nature. This is why an overview is good depending on which retirement system you are in. However, when retiring this becomes ever so personal and you want information specific to YOU, not just general information. But, OPM is correct. If they weren-t I would tell you. Take care, and have a very happy & deserved retirement�.Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne- My question for you requires some background info. First I am expecting to be retired in September 2013 with a disability retirement. I am a FERS employee. I feel I understand the disability rules well and I feel comfortable knowing what to expect save for one thing. I want to withdraw my entire thrift and not roll it over. Please understand I am not asking for your advice or opinion on the wisdom of this decision. What I want to know is If I withdraw my thrift (approx $125,000) will it have an effect on my receiving OPM disability retirement pension checks. The reason I am asking this is because I understand that I have income restricitons while on OPM disability and if I exceed 80% of my working income I can lose my disability pension. SO , to summarize my question, If I withdraw my TSP funds will that count towards income that will case me to lose my disability pension from OPM? Thanks- RL

A 2. Hi RL, I understand very well what you are asking me, and you are not the first person to ask this�.in fact I will be addressing that in my column this month�not exactly your question, but similar.

Let-s take apart the "income restrictions"�..You are a FERS employee, consequently, you have a 3 tiered retirement, 1-FERS; 2-SS/Spec Sup; 3- TSP. Your approval for FERS disability retirement HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR TSP money.
>> Next, you can-t take TSP out, (at least the way you described) until you are retired (or off the roles)�and to be retired either you meet the age & years (and you don-t or I suspect you don-t, otherwise you wouldn-t be talking disability retirement, if you could simply retire) OR you have already been approved disability retirement. So that takes care of that question, because based on the way you have "posed the question"�.you must have been notified of an approval for FERS disability retirement, because to KNOW that you are leaving in Sept 2013, means that you have been approved (and when approved for disability retirement�the sick leave is "USED" until it is gone.
>> Typically you are approved for FERS disability (1st), (and either approved or disapproved for Social Security disability�.because YOU KNOW YOU HAVE TO FILE W/SOCIAL SECURITY in conjunction w/FERS disability�BECAUSE IT TOO is a part of your 3 tiered retirement plan). Once approved for FERS disability, you can do whatever you want to do with your TSP�roll it over, take it in monthly installments, purchase an annuity, or in your case, take it all out, and roll it over to another financial vehicle. Does the TSP fall under the "guise" of income, yes of course it does�but has NO bearing at all on your FERS disability, and would NEVER cause you to lose your retirement from FERS. When OPM or SS relates information about income restrictions�it is speaking about income that you receive from WORKING�TSP is NOT WORKING INCOME, SS is NOT WORKING INCOME, FERS is NOT WORKING INCOME. DO NOT CONFUSE any retirement money with WORKING is not. But do understand that all income has to be reported at the end of the year. I hope this has helped you out with this question. Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, I will be 57 yrs. old in 4 months, have approximately 36 years of service - CSRS - clerk craft employee. Approx 25 yrs of my career has been as a PTR clerk (averaging 32 hours / week); with 12 years full time (early in career).

I received two CSRS Benefit Estimate Reports that were sent to me in 2009 & 2011. The net monthly annuity between the two year difference is $902.00 which doesn-t seem right, plus some of the info at the bottom portion of the "estimate basis" was different. I called HRSSC and they said because I was PTR more than 1/2 of my career I need a manual estimate and to basically ignore the two sent to me. I feel that if my annuity is close to the 2011 estimate I could probably retire, but if it is closer to the 2009 I-d have a hard time. My Retirement SCD is 2/28/1978 - so 35 years? I have 1463.90 accumulated SL which HRSSC said would add about 8 months or close to 36 years of service. And have an AL balance of 262.44 hours. These estimates did not factor in health (which I would take BC/BS family), life or federal tax withholdings and I would also choose some survivor benefits. Other things mentioned were high 3 being $52,882 on the 2011 estimate. On the 2009 estimate it said "deemed" high-3 $50,256, and actual high three $37,693 (which doesn-t seem right) & 78% CSRS pt proration factor. My hours as PTR were constantly changing - usually averaging between 32 and 40 hrs per week, but my office never cut new Form 50-s when my hours changed and the one on record shows me 25 hrs / week. Does HRSSC use actual hours or the Form 50 to do the computations? I do not want to retire but am facing some personal / health issues. I noticed on a Q & A to another person, you said if you have the years in, retire - you get paid about as much as if you worked. Could you offer any advise and what are your fees for counseling? Thanks for your service. NM

A 3. Hi NM, Well the first thing is�.I have been writing about this situation of PTR (Part-Time Regular) time and the affect of it to your overall retirement calculations. However, it is true that when looked at it from a management-s perspective, which of course is fiscally driven, you working a 30 hour week, & paying into the retirement fund based upon those 30 hours per week, and the MATCHING postal service-s contribution is precisely for those 30 hours (again as the example). It then it makes "financial" sense, in that you ARE being paid for and credited precisely for those hours worked. That being said�.you didn-t expect it and why would you when the annuity estimates (generated from a computer mind you) allude to very different figures. (THE why on that is because in order to provide you with Basic Life insurance, a yearly figure must be used in order to calculate "how much basic life insurance" you will have, that the Post Office pays ENTIRELY FOR. The proration factor in determining your annuity is a bitch�.and they using it to the fullest. As far as OPM reviewing the hours to give a fair pro ration, your financial records are transmitted from Eagan to OPM for just that reason�so they will see the actual hours worked.

But to solidify your question about your high 3�very simple, you need to look at all the hours you worked for the year, and that is including sick leave and annual leave, to see how close you come to 2080 (which is a full year (in hours) of work). You are going to have to do the leg work to make sure YOU don-t get screwed�at least if it was me, that is what I would do. AND you really need to wait to review what the annuity estimate says (based on the pro-ration). IF you feel that your monthly annuity it is way way off, and that they have pro rated too severely...then you may have to put your "big girl panties on" and go toe to toe with them. But you cannot do that without having all of your information! Once you get that, and since you have the other 2, I can give you the WHY. You may not like it..but I can explain it. If you are interested in me doing your retirement, (Air Mail Retirement) or if you are close enough and are going to drive here, please let me know and I will send info applicable to the type of retirement you want. Roseanne

Q 4. I retired from the USPS 1/31/13. I just finished reading your Oct 2012 column on FSA. Am I understanding it right in regards to my FSA, that if I opted for my 2013 FSA contributions to equal $800.00 and I accured out of pocket health care expenses for said amount by 1/31/13 but my pay period contributions only equaled $123.00 I can only be reimbursed for what I contributed. Your insight on this matter would be greatly appreciated. All in all my USPS retirement process went fairly smoothly and was wrapped up by 6/13. It great to have the summer off :) Thank you, A

A 4. Hi A, Congratulations on your retirement, it-s an accomplishment only those of us who worked at the USPS (long enough to retire) can only understand that statement of accomplishment�.regardless of your position title. I will unravel it�..but� do understand, that it may mean NOTHING NOW (due to time frames for submission). If during FSA open season in 2012, you signed up for a "SPECIFIC DOLLAR AMOUNT" for the 2013 year�(and worked in 2013, (and you did, if you retired on 1/31)) you ARE eligible to use ALL that money (in your case $800) as long as you used it by 1/31/2013 (the effective date of your retirement).

Maybe if I explain my case it sounds a bit more logical. I signed up for FSA in 2008 for the 2009 upcoming year. For argument sake lets say I signed up for $2600.00 per year (back then, the max was $5000.00 which is what I actually did) Health FSA; which would translate to $100.00 per pay period. So I retired with an EAS early out, that I was not expecting, and my retirement effective date was July 31st 2009. Although I only contributed $1300.00 to the FSA (13 pay periods), I was able to USE ALL $ 2600.00�PROVIDED THE EXPENSE WAS ON JULY 31, 2009 or prior.

So when I wrote that column, there were several readers who wrote and thought that my "insight" on how this worked was somehow�crooked. But it-s not, because it-s an "agreement", and if you were to pay (as the example above I use) $100.00 per pay period for 26 pay periods�and in that year you only had 1287.35 worth of "health FSA" deductions�.the agreement is you lose the balance of that $2600.00. This is why they tried to make sure you were very accurate in your FSA because if you OVER ESTIMATE, you stand to lose a bit of money that you CANNOT recoup. I hope by the example I gave, gives you the insight you were looking for.

As far as, you can only collect what you put in ($123) (not true)�but for this to work you MUST be sure that the "bills" you are turning in for payment HAD TO HAVE THE MEDICAL SERVICE OCCURRING BETWEEN JANUARY 1 AND JANUARY 31�.that is the real issue. Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, I will be 56 yrs. the beginning of this November. I have been employed by the USPS since May, 1985. I have been off work since March with severe depression, sleep apnea, and several surgeries. My last surgery was extremely difficult, as my foot was "rebuilt". I had a torn tendon, heel spurs removed, and he cut my heel bone in half as well as having my arch restructured. I am a SDO on the workroom floor at the P&DC in my district. They are have restructured our plant and have made it a HUB. We were instructed to bid jobs in "other post offices" that are up to 75 miles away. As my luck turned out� I got the position as Supervisor at the farthest one I bid on, which is 75 miles away and on Tour 1. I tried it for two weeks, but the drive, the size of the Plant, and the mistrust of my new employees was all too much for me. I am considering Disability retirement. My questions... If I file for Disability, will I have to wait until my claim is settled before I can withdraw my TSP money? I have a negative sick leave balance. How will I be required to pay this back? Also, if I am awarded SS disability also, how will that effect my annuity? Thank you so so much for taking the time to consider my questions. SLC

A. Hi SLC, Well first I can understand your frustration and when you are not at 100% the depression alone can be debilitating. First are you on OWCP? Do you have an OWCP claim�just a few questions. Meaning is this foot "injury" as a result of your job, and you filed an OWCP claim. If you have had all the surgeries and still you are unable to do your job, regardless of why or how you got the condition(s) you can file for disability retirement. They may try to talk you into MRA+10�but don-t do that�it-s not the best financial move unless you-re in a very desperate situation. Disability retirement is a viable option for you that you should look into. The information is below for you to begin this process with HRSSC. See below the instructions for filing for Disability Retirement:

1. Call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273 and request a "disability annuity printout" for August 2013

2. Tell them you want the "Disability Package" (which is the first Blue Booklet)�VERY THIN BOOKLET



As a FERS employee because you have a 3 tiered retirement and Social Security being one of the components of your retirement means that YOU MUST ALSO FILE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY WITH THE SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE. THIS CAN BE DONE ON-LINE. YOU JUST HAVE TO FILE TO BE IN COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL RETIREMENT PROCEDURES FOR OPM.

Once you get this first package gather all your medical information, and have each doctor complete a narrative (can be as short as�.Based upon the medical condition(s) it is my opinion as his/her physician Mr/Ms. Postal Employee is unable to perform the duties and requirements of his/her position as city carrier/clerk/PM/Supv�.etc now, and it has been determined that he/she will never be able to return to this position)�pretty much like that relating that you are unable to do your job and the inability of being able to do that job in the future . (AS INFORMATION, IN THAT BACK OF THAT FIRST BLUE BOOKLET IN THE BACK IS THE JOB DESCRIPTION AND POSITION REQUIREMENTS OF A CITY CARRIER�MANY DOCTORS WILL USE THAT INFORMATION AS A BASIS TO WRITE THE NARRATIVE AS IT SHOWS JOB DUTIES. OF course you will have to provide not just the narrative but medical documentation that supports all the physicians- diagnosis, and prognosis. Once at OPM, they will review and determine if you have met the criteria for approval for disability retirement.

Once that part is completed, then HRSSC will send you ANOTHER blue booklet, this time its very large and is the actual retirement paperwork. That should be your course of action based on what you have written me. Roseanne

Till we speak again��.Roseanne

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