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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 December 2013
Good Day Postal Employees!!

I begin this month's column wishing everyone a peace filled holiday season. I could not let this Christmas pass without sending my heart felt appreciation to all of you who write me just inquiring about Hope's condition. To those who send prayer chains; teachers that have their students say a prayer every morning, in Hope's behalf. The many churches (of all denominations) around the country, that have her on their weekly prayer list, to all of you - for all of that, I am truly humbled by your response. We are so grateful for what has been initiated in Hope's behalf. She is still undergoing radiation as of today, and will continue daily sessions for several more undetermined weeks. We are praying for a healthy prognosis this year for her, with all that she has overcome so far. And so to all of the readers of Postalmag, and followers of my column, I wish you all with overwhelming sincerity, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Roseanne

Well it's that time of year, and I know working at the post office during Christmas, can be unreal. This is when some employees (regardless of rank) are at their worst and then there are some that will shine brightly at being their best. It is a hard time of year and you have to be a postal employee to know it and understand it fully. And unless you are a postal employee, it's pretty hard to complain to anyone else. And when we do voice our complaints, they typically fall on deaf ears. Why?.. oh you know why�.it's because of our wages. That is what everyone says, you make big money, and so, if you don't like it - leave. And we can't do anything but agree�."but it shouldn't be that hard to do this job"�, yea I know, we all say it. "It's not the job�it's the people", yea, we say that too. I know for me, Christmas hiring was the HR Superbowl, every single year. And you hear "but it's not all of the people, just this one or that one". Yes, in every office, in every district , it is THE SAME. Working at the PO is an emotionally toiling job. From working Tour 3 or Tour 1; or working weekends for years. Or being unable to to be at family functions during the holidays, like that doesn't just piss off the spouse! I would say, if I didn't write this column, that it's probably not that bad anymore�.but not from the information I am getting from all of you. Some that write are not "years in" as some others are, and don't really know how rough it was without machines to sort the mail, I do�.I go back THAT FAR. This is how far I go back, see if the terms even mean anything to you: LSM, OCR, blue goose, nixy, "inside annual"; tie off a sack; 5 minute leeway; sweeping the machine; pie cart; casing mail in 030 or 040, ah, by hand. The days when you LITERALLY had to lift 70 pounds by lifting a sack (that was weighed ensuring the 70 pounds was correct!! ) and DOING IT in front of your supervisor. This on-site physical test was given to clerks, mail handlers and carriers alike. EVERY job in the post office had a REQUIREMENT of lifting 70 pounds. I wonder how many can do that today that are hired. Yes, I go so far back, that I was "issued" a postal ashtray that clipped on my case in 045, so that I could smoke and case mail at the same time (unbelievable is it NOT!!) And yes the USPS logo was on the ashtray!!! So in going back, I also came full circle as I sat in my office (District HR) with huge windows that overlooked the parking lot of employees going in and out of Shared Services. So I am telling you during this Christmas season�..RETIREMENT IS SO WORTH IT�.DO THE RIGHT THING FOR YOURSELF.�PLAN�.UNDERSTAND TSP��KNOW AND UNDERSTAND YOUR RETIREMENT PLAN. For many, the retirement and benefits ARE worth the missed holiday dinners, and the missed parties, and some vacations you were not able to attend. I tell you this, because it's so!!

I have had countless emails, and phone conversations about how badly things are going in the particular post office that you work at. Many of the complaints are so very much the same that clearly it is NOT your DISTRICT, and no doubt not the AREA office(s) either. The tactics, the absurd "new ways" of doing things can only come straight from Headquarters. It's the Christmas season, and I don't have to tell any of you, this is the worst time of the year for any postal employee, in any position, in any office�everywhere�.and with all of the early outs, regular retirements, little if ANY hiring and most of all NO REAL restructuring, I am sure it is very difficult now.


I have reviewed so many different types of annuity estimates from postal employees all over the country. I am here to tell you that an estimate ain't an estimate, unless it's the NARCES Estimate (USPS National Retirement Counseling System Annuity Estimate) top left of page says: Report AAF241P1. THAT IS THE REAL RETIREMENT ESTIMATE. Not the one they try to "encourage you" to pull yourself�."oh, you can do that yourself�.." Some annuity estimates that employees have brought me, that they ordered themselves, or received from HRSSC look like a "screen print". There is one that is truly jacked up with wack'ed information is the "Benefits Estimate Report". If it were me, I would be very specific about what I would accept as a PROPER ANNUITY ESTIMATE�OKAY�..I HAVE TOLD YOU - AND AS THE PO SAYS "YOU'VE NOW BEEN INFORMED"

Q. 1 - Hi Roseanne, I recently retired during the early out for Postmasters. I am 66 years old and retired with 29 years of service. I have heard that if I was to make a withdrawal from my TSP Account I would not be charged the 10% penalty by the government due to the age I retired at. I also have heard that you can transfer your IRA�s to the TSP Account. Would you have to pay taxes first on any Traditional IRA transfer to the TSP. Thank you for any information you can give me on this subject and you have been a great source of Postal information throughout the years. JTS

A. 1 - Hi JTS, If you are 66 now, to be honest, you could have taken your money out long ago and without a penalty; taxes (well depending on how you decide to withdraw your money) yes�. but a penalty no. And to respond to your second question, that flat out is NO!! You can NEVER EVER put money into the TSP account. That is "monitored & guarded" money�.because no taxes have ever been paid on that money. You didn't when you contributed to TSP, (when it was withdrawn from your paycheck) the agency didn't when they deposited the 1% for each FERS employee OR, the matching funds of your contribution. Nor has any taxes been paid on the interest earned on that money. So this money is in a place all by itself. After you retire (or leave federal service) you can withdraw your funds from TSP. After separation from the Postal Service, if you rolled that money into another 401K, you wouldn't pay taxes on that transaction either. An easy way to say this�.you pay taxes on TSP money is when it is "spendable" and at the "rate" in which you receive it. When it is in your bank, or in your hand, you now owe taxes on it because you can spend it. And you are very welcome�.now lets go get your money!! You will need to fill out a TSP-70. Go to, once you get to that page, at the top right hand corner, you will see Forms & Publications, click on that and then go to the forms, you will see it as one of the top 5 most requested forms. You can also call TSP at 1-877-968-3778. The TSP-70 is the form required to do ANYTHING AT ALL with your TSP funds. Roseanne

Q. 2 - Good Evening Roseanne, My question is I am with CSRS and was wondering how many hours of sick leave, count as a month more toward your retirement. I have heard two different 174 and 160 ? Is either right? Thanks for the great service you do for us. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family! GL

A. 2 - Thank you, we truly appreciate the prayers!! Sincerely. First understand that all sick time is credited�.too a point!!! (AND in 2014 that will be the exact same message for both CSRS and FERS employees). What is far more relevant, is what will you have as a sick leave balance on the day you plan to retire. So instead of looking to see how many hours calculates as an additional month, you should be looking at an annuity estimate, because your credible time and sick leave is combined together for retirement calculations, and it shows that on the annuity estimate. At least it does on the NARCES annuity estimate. As an example, let's say you were looking to retire December 31, and have an annuity estimate dated for January (which is correct), and you ordered it in July, (6 months in advance of your retirement date). The sick leave should not be advanced (to you ) to match up with what you would have on Dec 31st, simply because the annuity estimate is calculated to end your employment on Dec 31. That annuity estimate should be just as what your sick leave is on the day you ordered it. So trying to calculate what adds to a month is almost meaningless, if trying to add to years of service. As I said the only way is to have an annuity estimate to have the absolute answer. But to answer your question according the "Sick Leave Chart - 2080 hours, 173 equals a month. Roseanne

Q 3. - Hi Roseanne- I was wondering if you could clarify my annuity calculation if I left (just resigning) the po. I am FERS 5-9-87 start date, clerk, level 7 with 26 and a half yrs in.. Waiting for the next early out but what if I decided to leave before an early out and defer my retirement. I am currently 49 yrs of age, my MRA is 56. I heard you can defer to age 60. Is that true? Would I start receiving a monthly check at age 60? What penalties would be taken out of my annuity? Any clarification would help, Thank You ER

A 3. - Hi ER, First we need to clear up a few things. Yes, if you resign, based on YOUR age and years of service you can defer your retirement until you reach age 60. (Because you already have 26.5). However, you don't get the FULL value of your retirement, which includes the Special Supplement, which can be considered one penalty. You must be in a very specific situation for this to be a great move. One would be if you were going on to other employment that has great benefits. Because you won't be getting health insurance or life insurance at the rates you currently pay as a postal employee. When you turn 60, you will need to initiate contact with OPM to begin to collect your annuity. As a second penalty, your "retirement" with OPM will not include federal life insurance or federal health benefits. If you are resigning, and don't take your FERS contributions out, then below is the information you really need. It's important enough to quote.

This is what regulations say about Deferred Retirement: "If you separate from service before you are eligible for an immediate annuity and you do not take a refund of your retirement contributions, you will be eligible for a deferred retirement benefits as soon as you attain the age that corresponds with the age and service combinations shown below. You will not be permitted to continue Federal Employees Health Benefits or Federal Employees Group Life Insurance. You are not eligible for the special retirement supplement"

Age Service
MRA 30
60 20
62 5
MRA 10 (reduced)

So that is the criteria, and it is the same criteria as regular retirement. Providing you are a full time employee and have been for some time, then you can simply use your high 3 average salary, and then times it by 1%. That figure is used times the number of years of service. Then that figure is divided by 12 for the gross monthly annuity. That first figure is without spousal benefits (and of course no life or health insurance�which REALLY is the biggest benefit of retirement. SO to add a bit to this�.you don't have to wait until age 60, in your case, when you reach your MRA of 56, you will have more than the 30 years. It will take you 3.5 years to reach 30 years of service. It will take you 11 years to reach age 60, but only 7 years to reach your MRA. Roseanne

Q 4. - Hi Roseanne, Thanks for being so helpful to so many people. My question is this: I'd like to retire March 1, 2014. In order to be eligible (30 yrs) I need to buy back some of my work time at the IRS. I have my retirement papers ready to fill out including the buyback papers. My retirement counseling is at the end of November. Is that really enough time to retire? I was told I would have to pay the money back while I was still employed at the Post Office. I am a FERS employee and I am 59 years old. Thanking you in advance for your help to so many. J

A 4. - Hi J, NOT sure if you understand your retirement plan, but if you are 59, you don't need 30 years to retire. You have your eligibility when you have 20 years and are 60, so I am going to assume that you are not wanting to wait until you turn 60 and want to retire. In your case, being 59 and not yet 60 & not wanting to wait until you turn 60, then yes you do need 30 years to retire. When you retire, there should be (in the big blue retirement booklet) a form that has "military buy back" information, which has to be paid back before retirement (but I have seen and have been told by many employees, that they have put the check for military buy back in with their retirement papers. But that is with the understanding that they have already sent off for the information and know the precise amount of money that needs to be paid back. However, there is no form in the retirement booklet for buy back prior federal service. I guess one question I would have for you, before you start to get twisted over this...because I can see you confusing the folks over at HRSSC! First off, your IRS service�.."should I buy back some of my work time" confuses me. What do you mean by buying back "some time"? As if you could buy back only a part of it?? There are "trigger dates" that federal time can be bought back, if your IRS time was non-career. If you were a career employee at the IRS and resigned, then pulled your money out of retirement, well that would be one case where you can buy it back. Generally IRS time (unless a census taker) is career time. I would suggest that you look in your eOPF (OR on the back of one of the sheets that was sent to you with your annuity estimate). On the annuity estimate (if NARCES), it outlines all military service, paid or unpaid and all federal service career or non-career. If you go into your eOPF, look for Form 50's that show your IRS time. When you were hired, did you list your employment at the IRS on your employment application for the Post Office? The application specifically asks if you EVER had another federal job. And if all that was done correctly when you were hired, your "federal OPF" from your IRS employment, (which would have been ordered from the National Civilian records repository in St. Louis, MO), would have been "married up" (or co-mingled) with your postal OPF. So this information should already be in there, again if done correctly. When was your employment at the IRS, and how long was it? Roseanne

R 4.- The IRS time was back in the early 80's. HR had sent me the form to buy back the old work credit in a separate envelope. It said if you are within 8 months of retirement, file it with your retirement papers. It was career time but the civil service contributions were refunded to me many years ago. Thanks, J

A4-. - Hi J, Yes, you can pay this back with your retirement paperwork, since HRSSC has sent you the form. DID you look on your eOPF history to SEE If the IRS is a part of your federal history? YOU MUST do that!! If you are now FERS and this IRS time is CSRS, the first thing I would do is look in my eOPF for an RTR report. I would be calling HRSSC and ask (immediately when they answer the phone) to speak to someone that can answer a PRECISE question�(because this is NOT going to be in a book that they can just flip a page to find the answer)�.about FERCA�Using that term pronounced fer-ca. The reason is because if you are FERS and you are buying back OLD CSRS time, it may be an issue as it relates to the retirement system you are in. This is why I am saying look in your eOPF history to see if it's there. This may be a bigger issue than you know. Roseanne

Q 5. - Hi Roseanne, I have a quick question for you, my birthday is Jan. 9 and I reach MRA in 2015, I'm FERS and will have 34 total years with Military, and SL combined. My question is, does it really matter if I go on that date or wait till the end of that month. I heard for CSRS it's good to retire at the beginning of a month, and for FERS to retire at the end of a month? What would happen if I left on Jan. 9, 2015 ? Thank you, in advance, Sincerely, JJ

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