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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 November 2013
Good Day Postal Employees - In sincere gratitude, thank you all for the prayers that have been said for Hope. She is a true fighter and this month she begins her 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments. Please continue to keep her in your prayers and thoughts.

This month I would like to start this column out a bit different. First, as always, it's a real question from a real employee, and secondly, its just sad.

Hi Roseanne I am a CSRS postal employee with 42 years of credible service. I have submitted my retirement application to shared services effective 11-30-2013. I will be 60 years old on 12-1. I have been with the federal service since I was 17 years old. I do not qualify for Social Security because I have only paid into that the 3 years I was in the military. I am considering withdrawing my retirement application because of the mess with the government shutdown (I figure OPM will fall even farther behind in processing applications now). Due to my many financial commitments I cannot afford to wait a year or for full retirement pay if they fall that far behind. I will be getting around $12,000 for the lump sum payout on my 440 hrs. of accumulated annual leave. I had planned to use that to pay off my credit cards, not to use for living expenses until I receive my proper retirement. I have a comment and two questions. I have read your post about �getting out�, it seems you advocate leaving as soon as we feel comfortable with the decision because the PO is a sinking ship? I�ve gotten tired of waiting for any type of incentive for the carriers to go. Your thoughts on that? Now, my questions; if I decide to retire, and take some low paying part-time job, could I theoretically qualify for SS benefits somewhere down the road, and if so, wouldn�t they be reduced because of the reduction we face being federal retirees?
Second question, I have applied for two scheduled awards, and although it's been a struggle, now, I�m trying to decide if it is even worth the hassle filing an appeal on this situation? I�m sure the first injury probably contributed to the second injury. Your thoughts please. I guess I will be in for a long fight if I decide to appeal this mess. Thanks so much for your thoughts and advice!

I do understand the government shut down, but that will NOT be going on very long. Many in the federal workforce can work from home, and that this right here is just political BS!! You and I are about the same age, and we have seen this before in the political arena. We lived through the vast changes that Pres. Reagan put forth, that radically changed the entire federal retirement system, as well as the 1986 tax code change that eliminated the deduction of interest, other than mortgage interest on our taxes. Probably by today's standards, Reagan would be considered a Moderate - so look how things change. Send me your phone number with area code, (and what state you are in for time zone purposes). I think based on this email, a conversation would do you better than me writing to you. I know from experience�that when employees hear me talk, they instinctively KNOW, I know what I am talking about. I can help you get a better grip of what is going on and how to set a plan to accomplish it. It doesn't matter if you used my services or not. I just want to help you get the most out of your retirement and set you on the correct path. Roseanne

WelI�I called him. And after we spoke for a bit, he told me he pretty much fell on the floor in disbelief, when he answered the phone and found out it was me. He couldn't believe I would take the time to call him, even though I asked for his phone number. One of the first things I said to him was thank you for all your years of service, both federal and military. He told me no one has ever told him that, just those few words of gratitude. When we were speaking he told me that really couldn't take the way the post office operates anymore, and that leadership was pathetic. Placing unrealistic demands, in time frames that were even more ridiculous. He had pretty much made up his mind that he was retiring, and did not pull the plug on his retirement paperwork. He sounded like so many of you out there.. EMPLOYEE FRUSTRATION�His complaint was just the lack of any information on wholesale level. Not just retirement information, but what the USPS will look like in the future. Again, it's no different than many of you that write me. Not to ask a specific question, just some confirmation, that the organization will bounce back. It's not like I am telling any of you out there HOW bad it is YOU TELL ME! AND truly, it is the same story, about the same supervisor, same exact manager or Postmaster or POOM!

The Post Office, an agency that was built literally to "transport information"�.YES MAIL was transporting information, and for years WE were the ONLY transporters of information. There was no TV, or radio in the beginning�.no internet�no twitter�no Facebook�.it was just the MAIL. And now the very same agency has thousands of employees that feel they have no information or not enough of the right or pertinent information in order to retire or make a decision to stay. And one thing on the government shut down�.we are federal employees and we will work�.even if you tell us not to, we will work�even when you threaten you won't pay us, we will work, and we will talk trash all day long�.but federal workers we will work!

In the conversations, both verbal and written, with you out there, retirement information seems to be the most confusing. It is most definitely because of crossing information on CSRS and FERS. I was told that by an HRSSC employee that all questions are answered when the employees are on this retirement phone line session, and I do believe that. But my response was "SO what if they DON'T know what to ASK? Because it's those same employees writing me that have already HAD their retirement session on the phone!

Setting the record straight� Yes there is retirement information out there, and you do have to look, beginning with information on liteblue; and you do have the HRSSC phone session, not necessarily personal; AND yes, there are those good video's made several years ago, very-very informative and� the end of the day�.it's still all POSTAL STEW�.AND�...I STILL WRITE THIS COLUMN!!!

Q 1. Hello Roseanne, I am a city letter carrier, but began my career as a mail handler. I started on 6/18/1988 but for 25 years my retirement date was 11/12/1987. Then on July 15, 2013, I received in the mail a PS Form 50 action that was changing 11/12/1987 to 6/18/1988. CBB must be completed to receive credit towards RCD and ACD. I was a casual during that time in1987 before being converted from a hiring register to a PTF clerk. Do you have any suggestions. Thanks much, VRL

A 1. Hi VRL, I suspect that based on the dates you gave me, that it was on 11-12-1987 you became a casual. I suspect that on 12-31-1987 was the end of your appointment and then on 01-01-1988, perhaps you were reappointed as a casual. Then WITHOUT A BREAK in service you were converted to a career employee on 06-18-1988. You didn't tell me WHAT EXACTLY changed�meaning "precisely what on the form 50 was changed. If you go to ANY OTHER form 50 (prior to this one), that ONE piece of "data" should be different than this new form 50. It could be the EOD (enter on duty date) (and typically that is what it is). I bet if you look that is possibly what it could be. Another could be the ACD and/or the RCD (on any of previous form 50's showed) was 11-12-87. That "CBB must be completed to receive credit towards RCD and ACD" is informing you that you can buy it back. No doubt, this change, is about correcting bad data in your form 50 history, that somehow maybe they just caught. Let me ask you a question, have you done ANYTHING to generate this type of change? For example, request an annuity estimate for retirement? Anything like that? Thanks, Roseanne

R 1. Hi Roseanne, Now that was an amazing answer and quick. I checked my personnel folder on internet and I was a casual, for about 4 months in 1987, and then I was on my 90 day probation period then I was hired on 6/18/1988. I would like to know if I can get credit for those months towards my retirement I did call HRSSC and request a beneficiary package, but other than that, nothing. I have not changed jobs and have not bidded on any vacant jobs either. I like many of the readers of this column and this magazine, are disgusted on the direction the post office is taking. We are SO not what we used to be. Again, you are spot ON!! VRL

A 1a. You are welcome. Yes, you can repay your prior non-career time, that is what the CBB was referring to. You could repay the amount (of course it would be with INTEREST) and if you are looking to do that, I suggest you get started now, just to find out how much it would be. Then see how long it would take for you to recoup the money spent for those 7 months of casual time. For you, its a little over one-half percent added. Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne. I just read the article in Postal Retirement Q&A for Oct -2013 on I hate to admit my ignorance on the subject, but I have questions about early retirement. In the Q&A section, you told someone that there is a 5% reduction per year for early retirement under FERS. I've heard for years that FERS has a 2% penalty per year, while civil service is 5% per year. I am under FERS, so which is correct- 2% or 5% ? Also, I'm 46, my start date was 10-11-97, so what is my Minimum Retirement Age? Our Human Resources offices were drastically cut several years ago, and no one can give us straight answers at our plant. Thanks in advance. JR

A 2. HI JR, YES that is drastically wrong information on CSRS and FERS! It is a 5% reduction for each year under age 62 (FERS) if you were to retire under the MRA+10 type of retirement; and would NOT EVER be eligible for the special supplement. If an early out occurs and you are UNDER your MRA, (because and ONLY because of THAT early out, there is NO 5% reduction on the age) & you DO GET the special supplement. IF not yet your MRA (again under early out), when you reach your MRA you would begin to collect the special supplement.

CSRS�.you simply CANNOT RETIRE UNLESS you are 1. Age 55 with 30 (or more years) or 2. Age 60 w/(20 or more years) or 3. Age 62 w/5 (or more years). If you are a CSRS employee and offered an early out and are NOT YET 55, CSRS has a 2% penalty for each year under age 55. If you are over 55, as was I when I retired (CSRS) with less than 30 years (almost 27) there is no reduction at all. Your retirement is simply calculated by the formula and the years�(again provided you are 55).
 THAT ABOVE IS WHAT IS CORRECT�.If you were born in 1967, your MRA is 56 and 6 months. And that too is the correct answer! Roseanne

R 2. Wow. My wife (also a postal worker) and I were both wrong. Lesson learned. Thanks so much and God Bless you. Sincerely, JR

A 2a Hi JR, It feels good to know I have been able to set information straight so that employees have real information to make important retirement decisions on. You know, when we reach the ages that begin to take us closer to retirement, it's too important to NOT know everything�we are too old to try to recoup financial mistakes, especially in retirement. Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, Thank you so much for this column of valuable information My question: With all the crazy things happening at the Post Office now, I have been looking into retirement for the past few months. I was told I could "buy back" my casual time. It's very confusing. Please help. Would it be worth my $$ to buy it back? In what case would it NOT be good or just be worthless to buy it back?

My case: I was a casual from Sept 1986-March 1987--exactly 6 months- making $5.00 hour. I worked at least 40 hours per week. I had just turned 30 when I became a PTF. So now I'm 56 (MRA) with 26� years of service. How much is this going to cost me to buy it back? and then of course there's interest too. Is it worth it for me to buy it back? Will I gain more $$ per month at retirement by doing this (with or without an early out) or will I just be able to retire 6 months earlier? OR neither????? or BOTH?? Good? Bad? this is the first I've heard that I can "buy" the time back-similar to military time. Many of us were casuals before we became career employees. Some for 2 months, some up to 2 years. Please help!! CE

A 3. I will give you my opinion on this issue of FERS buying back very small periods of non-career employment....DON'T BOTHER. I can go into all of the why's, do all the calculations for an exact amount owed and what the net "worth" of that buy back as it relates to your overall monthly annuity in retirement, and typically, it's just NOT worth it. In my opinion, it's not enough to be dealing with only 1/2 of 1%. Several years ago, I did retirement sessions for HQ employees. In one session, a CSRS employee who had been trying to buy back casual time since (beginning the process OF buying it back with HRSSC), 2007 or 2008. It too was 6 months and in 2011, and the employee still had not received paperwork to initiate the buy back. It was as if they couldn't find it to calculate it. Without the amount of the initial payback (earnings), there is no way to calculate INTEREST OVER THE LAST 32 - 33 years. So you asked my opinion�.it ain't worth it�.one month !! I did calculations today, on one of my clients, with a High 3 average salary in the 60G range, and those six months of casual time bought back, gets you around $4.00 per month extra OK, it IS for the rest of your life�..but $4 bucks a month!! �.retire�the hell with those 6 months of casual time. Roseanne

R 3. Thank you for the quick answer.......but......... it's not really about the 20-25 extra dollars. I was really more interested in the time. I am already 56 so I have the MRA, but I won't have the 30 years till I'm 60. Without an early out I will have to have 30 years in. this would put me 6 months closer. A few people did it here in the January early out. One said 1 year of time cost her $83 plus $380 in intreast and fees. (She just turned 56); and it was taking 18-24 months to recoup that money, @ $20-24 extra per month. She felt it was worth it, since she was still so young. She DID say it took 20 months to get it all straight. BUT like I said, I really was only thinking it would put me 6 months closer to my 30 years.....without that early out. SO still don't bother???? I value your opinion. Thanks, CE

A 3a Hi CE, I am bit confused as to why the 6 months is so important to you?? By the time you get to be 60, it's still full retirement�because full retirement is age 60 with at least 20 years and you would have that�.so that is why I don't understand your stressing about these 6 months.

 HERE is FERS FULL Retirement AGES and Years
 MRA w/at least 30 years
 Age 60 w/at least 20 years
 Age 62 w/at least 5 years

So do you see why I am confused�I didn't give just you a quick answer. I read your question entirely before I answered it. And my answer still stands about just 6 months of buying it back�.not just the few dollars it gains, but all the time it takes to get it worked out. YOU and I were similarly situated in terms of years and age (except I am CSRS); hired when I was 29, and so for me, 30 years put me able to retire at age 59. If I was a casual for 6 months, prior to my career appointment, and was able to buy it back, I still wouldn't�because in a few months I would have been 60, and for CSRS also at age 60 w/20 or more years, it is FULL retirement, the same as FERS. I guess this statement should be made, "if you are age 60 you don't have to work 30 years to be eligible to retire", at age 60 you only need 20 years, and you more than have that. I hope these examples will help you understand why I came to the conclusion I did. As well as the other REAL conclusion for FERS�it's about 4.00 per month more�..just saying...Roseanne

Q 4. Hi Roseanne, A friend suggested I email you with my questions. I am a FERS employee with 29 years as of Jan. 2014. I was a level 11 Postmaster until two years ago. At that time we heard that our offices would be 4 hour offices. I went to a meeting and the MPOO for our area said, if you go out and get trained in the city delivery and larger offices, you WILL get a job. Long story short, I have been managing Level 18 offices for the past 2 years. When these offices come open I then apply as the OIC. So far these jobs have gone to District people looking for a job. I was then given the advice to apply for a six hour office, which I got. Well I did and didn't want this level office, but felt that getting my 30 year retirement benefits was the only way to go. I have never worked in this Level 6 office and have continued still to OIC a level 18 office. My question is this. Do these two past years apply to my high 3? And secondly, this office I am OIC'ing in, will come open in Jan 2014. The person who got the position has decided to retire at the end of the year. Do I stay and apply once again, or do I as you say RUN for the door and retire? I would have never thought my career would end this way. Thank you for your time. And my prayers go to you and your family at this time. Please email or call at your convenience. LT

A 4. Hi LT, There are couple of things to understand�first�the annuity estimate is just "estimate". What it really is though,�.is just a "snap shot" of the last 3 years of your form 50 history, (even if they are NOT your high 3). That being said, as in your case, you may be on paper (on paper means what is on your form 50) any level, and that is what the annuity estimate WOULD reflect. But in reality, OPM will go by your earnings in that particular level - for the period of time you are in the higher level, (minus overtime, Sunday Prem, or Night D). OPM reviews ALL your earnings. Better said, if you are on "higher level" (look on your paycheck) and are truly working in a level 18 capacity, that will be counted as your high 3 (once the pay records reach OPM).�and that takes care of that answer�I hope. One thing that always seems to be missed when we talk about high 3 is that when calculating the high 3 and there is "higher level", that it is your CONSECUTIVE HIGH 3 AVERAGE SALARY�or ANY of your high 3 years in a ROW, so that takes care of that answer, hopefully...

As far as should you go for the PM position that you are an OIC in right now, when the office becomes vacant in January? �.Totally a crap shoot!�By your OWN admission�these jobs are OBVIOUS landing spots for district employee's (and the closer you are to the DC area) headquarters employee's landing spots as well. If it were me, I would retire!! The longer you remain in a position NOT working 40 hours a week, it will consistently decrease your high 3 average salary, as it will be subject to the proration factor�.you have NO idea what is in store for you down the road. I did a retirement that showed a PM who worked 5 more years, and due to the proration factor, she grossed $5.00 more per month by staying (5 yrs.) �.why�.the proration factor. And I want to thank you, for thoughts prayers and concern that has been expressed for my daughter Hope.

Until we speak again���. Roseanne

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