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Postal Retirement
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 February 2013
Good Day Postal Employees!!  Doing my best to overcome the turmoil of the computer hacking and will try to turn to a more lively subject... the PO!   So is it me..or are we disintegrating right before our very eyes. OK, hold on to your britches... this ain't going to be pretty!!

It is not something that I have to tell you, you see it everyday, and all of you write and tell me issues at your specific offices that are a very common theme throughout the postal service, from NDC's; Processing Plants; Post Offices, and yep, Headquarters too.  The lack of leadership, the promotions of employees to managerial positions, that make you wonder if they promote the most incompetent to these positions by "design".
There are several things I have learned over the course of this month that are disturbing to me & probably will be to you.  First there is "chatter" about the TACS offices going away and having Eagan, MN do timekeeping for everyone.  Well from the standpoint of being a manager (and of course an employee) this is DREADFUL.  Not having a time and attendance office on site at each District will wreck havoc in paychecks being correct.  How many times do you all think that managers and supervisors are prompted to put in time for employees? OK, so what do I mean about that?  The clerks in time keeping, actually keep management on their toes about ensuring that time is put in for employees.  I am sure you all know, and no doubt have done, not clocked out for lunch or in for lunch.  As if that is something that never happens... please... happens all the time. And in timekeeping, the clerks in that office ensure that clock rings are correct.  If someone does not clock back in from lunch, and then ends their tour, that is an error that has to be fixed before the end of the pay period, and in some districts must be done daily.  Many employees don't understand the importance of DAY 12 in the life of management, and in timekeeping as it relates to the prior pay period.  There MUST be "something" in timekeeping, even if it's LWOP, which IS a leave of sorts.  There cannot be NOTHING, that being said, when employees fail to make correct clock rings, those discrepancies have to be fixed before Day 12, or the employee will not be paid properly. Let me give you another example: there are many casuals (oh, they read my column too), and some have not been paid since Christmas.  Why? Because when they were hired, they were given different EIN numbers, so there are two or more EIN numbers in the system, with corresponding SSN's, for the same employee.  It's a COMPUTER that runs payroll, therefore this is an ERROR, so they don't get paid, again just another example.

I know the PO makes really bad choices when eliminating positions, but this one is really going to bite them back hard -stupid, stupid move.  But it's not like they are going to read my column, and say "hey Roseanne thinks we shouldn't do this" and then change their mind... although I have been told, (of course I cannot say who), that many times they do read my column and either agree or say "thank God, she gone!!"  I typically did not bite my tongue as a Manager, and all who know me, knew that.  Do you all out there think that District Managers, or Postmasters or even Supervisor/Managers AGREE with what is going on, or what they are required to do?  They don't.  But we were/are Management and we have orders to follow, just as craft does and a direct order my friends is STILL a direct order - period!  And now on to retirement issues.

There are many changes that have taken place over the past few months as it relates to retirement.  I am here to tell you the truth, it may not be what you want to hear, but it's the truth.  First, the changes that have taken place have to do with your last paycheck and earned annual leave when you retire. For years, like clock work, your last pay (or what ever few work hours you had in the last pay period) and your earned annual was paid to you on the payday after you left.  

That last check is a paper check, not deposited into your checking account because there was/is no connectivity between you and the post office any longer after your retirement form 50 was/is cut. That last pay check was sent to your employing office for you to either pick it up, or have it mailed to you.  I call that OLD SCHOOL.  The brighter stars in the post office have decided that since "some employees" and I do mean "JUST some" have retired owing the post office money, and due to those few, they are now holding those last pay/annual leave checks approximately 30 days or so, to see if you owe them 15 cents!  They are still paper checks, you still have to pick them up, but now you need to call (I would every Friday) to see if your last pay check is at your employing office for pick up.  The employees that owe money range from window clerks who retire with "short" cash drawer, or if you retired in July, and used all 208 hours advanced to you in the beginning of the year (that if you retired in July you were only eligible for 104), or maybe were advanced leave (way too rare but possible) and used it, and then retired.  OLD SCHOOL, in that case they would go to OPM, so that OPM could collect the money from the annuity to pay back the post office, or hold the paycheck until you pay the discrepancy, and then the check would be released to you.  Now you have to wait an additional 2-3 weeks to get your last pay check.  JUST delivering the message!!  I am so sure no one told you that... but that is how it is now.  Since I can remember, this was how last pay was handled.  It gave you some breathing room in terms of money, waiting for the interim checks to begin from OPM.  Many of you have spent years trying to gather sufficient leave, so that you would have a financial cushion when retiring, knowing that there is a delay in the "Interim Checks" from OPM.  But at no time, has the delay been as bad as it is now.  You have ONE office handling thousands of retirements, and the numbers of employees that work in RETIREMENT at HRSSC is a very small number, too small to tell you, without you all flipping out!  But I suppose I don't have to tell you that... how many of you really got that phone call back from them, when you left your phone number because no one answered the phone, and required you to leave a call back number???  No need for me to tell you... you all tell me the horror stories.

Another little known "effect" is the PTF and PTR issue.  When Eagan, (where pay is "stored" for lack of a better word) transmits your pay information to OPM, your annuity is recalculated.  This is why the NARCES Estimate, clearly says "estimate".  And for those employee's who have spent years as PTF's working "X" number of hours, that recalculation is called "pro-ration".  Many employees who think that their Gross Annuity is going to be one thing, and then it is "pro-rated" based on the actual number of hours worked, the pro-ration factor can reduce that gross annuity figure by 20% or more.  By that time, it's too late to do anything, you're retired.  There is NO fix for this, because in reality it's not incorrect that they do this, what is shameful is you don't know it until after you have retired!  The same as there is no fix to give an "actual" High-3.  That NARCES annuity estimate is a snap shot of your form 50 history for the last 3 years.  If you read my columns, you understand what that means.  (The majority of employees high 3 average salary is going to be the last 3 years, so the computer is set for the "majority" of employees).  In the cases of PTF and PTR employees, they have to USE a base salary to calculate the employee's Basic Life Insurance, so the yearly salary of the level and step is used for that Basic Life Insurance calculation.  But that "yearly salary" may not be what the yearly salary is for a PTF or PTR who's bid job is a 36 hour work week. This is another reason why PTF employees cannot simply get an annuity estimate... you all have heard... "because it has to be done manually".  

I stop here, because I had my retired Postmaster husband read the above, and needed me to explain this to him... therefore, I had to come back and redefine what I am saying; so obviously, it needs better clarification.

Let's say that you and a co-worker are hired off the same hiring worksheet (because in reality..that is where everything begins, your score on the exam), and if are hired on the same day, you have the same EOD date, but are ranked in order (score order from the HWS (based on your test score, which is what determines if you get a "bid" or not, when both of you have the same date, thus your standing on the seniority roster)).

For ease of understanding what I am trying to explain,  Employee #1 (scored 100) and EOD date is 1/1/1986 Ranking #1. Employee # 2 (scored 99) and EOD 1/1/1986 Ranking #2. Both of those employees are hired for the same office; both are PTF's.  Employee #1 gets 40 hours per week, Employee #2 gets 36 hours per week.  Retirement contributions are a percentage of the wages!!  So Employee #1 pays MORE into retirement because that employee has a higher wage (due to more hours) than Employee #2, does; which the USPS matches what the employee pays.  (Typically, CSRS is 7.14% and FERS is 1%).  If you have worked less than 40 hours per week, the annuity estimate is calculated based on the level and step, and not about the wages, or contributions paid, but on simply your level and step, a figure they use so they can calculate the Basic Life Insurance.

When OPM reviews the pay records, would Employee #2 (who has paid LESS into retirement, and the PO has paid less) have the same annuity as Employee # 1? NO.  So, you say, yea, but that was years ago... true, but all of it comes into play.  You will say, I thought it was calculated based on my High-3, that also is true, YOUR H-3 salary... actual salary. So the annuity estimate is not always about your wages, it's just that, an estimate (based on your level and step).  Now, at the end of your career, or close to it, you take a PTR job with 32 hours per week... did you really think that taking a PTR job was not going to affect your money in retirement??  Of course it will, negatively, again because your annuity estimate is based on step and level, and not actual hours.  You may be a Level 6 Step O, or Level 2, Step O, and the annuity estimate reflects the Form 50's...but the wages (thus the deposit into your retirement fund) will be the determining factor of what your retirement will be, after OPM gathers all the wage data from Eagan.  They do look at higher level, another misunderstood faction.  Higher level is reviewed in "blocks of 3 years"!! Not singularly.  If you have higher level for 6 months, 6 years ago, that is not going to count, because the last 3 years (even with that 6 yrs ago higher level) will not be higher than the last 3 years, at least not generally. 
Moving on... if you are retiring on January 31st and your telephone session is at the end of January or in some cases in February... doesn't that tell you something!!  So much for the "sending your retirement 3 months in advance... so how's that working as it related to the early out... NOT.  Like I said in the beginning, this was not going to be pretty. 

I have a few Q&A's for you:

Q 1.  Roseanne, I have been retired for 3 months and I have not received anything from OPM... no money, no letter, nothing. How do I know that I am retired and the paperwork was sent in for me.  Thanks, JL

A 1.  Hi JL,  The first thing is to attempt to go into liteblue, postal ease.  If you are able to access your information, you are still on the rolls.  If you are not, then at least the retirement Form 50 was cut.  But in that case, and you did not say, you should have received your Form 50 Retirement.  If you have that form 50, then you are OFF the rolls, but that is the extent of it so far.  OPM is overwhelmed with retirements right now to the tune of about 24,000.  I imagine its pretty busy up there.  The closer you sent in your retirement to the drop dead date, the longer this process will take for you to begin receiving communication from OPM and of course ultimately retirement money.  Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne, Thank you for taking the time to care enough about the rest of us still here and write the column, it is a breath of fresh air for many of us.  Sorry about your computer problems and hope you are able to continue writing to us and keeping us informed on retirement.  I do have one question, why is it that we have to call and talk with a retirement counselor over the phone that does not speak to us as individuals, but more as a group?  Many of us in our office talked about how limited the information is that we get on the phone and are as confused or more so after this session.  Carol

A 2. Hi Carol, First you are welcome, just call it a labor of love for my fellow postal employees. As far as the retirement session, this is a money saving venture for the post office.  When you consider that we had 100 districts and each had a Personnel Office, with staffing that was based upon the size of that particular district.  Using my office as an example, I had about 18 employees, and when HRSSC can into existence, we were allocated 2.  Using a round number of 25 as an average (25x100= 2500).  HRSSC began with a based of around 550, for ALL the HR functions.  Those 550 are the replacements for the 2500... simple math.  My opinion is and always has been, if you have worked for the organization long enough to retire, you deserve far more than a talk on the phone with 10 others from different states at the same time.  They didn't listen when I said this, obviously, but my opinion is still the same.  This is way too important to not have face to face interaction with the last biggest financial decision you probably will make in your adult life.  Just my 2 cents on that... but from my emails, there has not been ONE of you that think differently than I on this.

Till we speak again... Roseanne

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