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Postal Retirement Information
Postal Retirement October 2011

Good Day Postal Employees!

I have had a very busy month with answering all your questions, and have chosen two that had multiple questions on the same subject. Many times as shown below, I will do research on my answers that I provide to the readers of postalmag. I try to give the most up to date information I have and don't take for granted that things have not changed since I have left the post office. Below I have included information from the OPM web site regarding health benefit open season.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced that this year�s open season for health benefits, dental and vision insurance, and flexible spending accounts will be held from November 14 through December 12, 2011. The annual open season gives federal employees and retirees the opportunity to review their health plan choices and make changes; it also allows eligible employees to enroll for coverage.

Question 1 - Hi Roseanne, I corresponded with you earlier in the year, as I was contemplating retiring sometime in 2011, due to me needing to relocate. After all information was gathered and analyzed, and due to the problems with OPM in processing of retirement data and Annuity Checks on a timely basis, I have been forced to postpone my retirement until 2012.

During 2011 I accumulated as much sick time and vacation time in anticipation of my retirement by 12-31-2011. I was informed by Shared Services that all sick leave would be calculated in with my final annuity amount and I would lose none. You corrected that issue and I was aware that they pay in whole months and additional days I could use or I would lose.

I was told by Shared Services all unused Annual Leave would be paid out to me in a lump some about (2) weeks after my retirement. Since I was planning to retire by 12-31-2011 the carry over of additional hours after max of 440 hours never arose. Once it became a possibility that I may have to postpone retirement and that I would have more than 440 hours of Annual leave on books at 12-31-2011, I contacted Shared Services and they stated that as long as I cashed out additional hours during Annual Leave Open Season Buy Back I would lose none. They stated this took place in November. Today I contacted Shared Services and again asked the same question and told them I have 505 on books and wanted to buy back at least 65 of these hours, and they stated I could do this but only between 11-15-11 and 12-15-11. They stated a form would be coming in the mail. I asked the questions twice and she stated she was looking at my record, I was eligible and she was 100% certain If I filed the correct form and on a timely basis I would get these accumulated hours and not lose them, she assured me I would. As this is a lot of money hanging in the air I really wanted to get your expert answer and knowledge. All this retirement misinformation and delays of information and monies has been so very stressful and frankly a bunch of crap. After 30+ years why is it so hard to get a truthful and factual answer out of the USPS? And why is it so hard to get all monies I have worked so hard for in a timely and efficient manner? I follow your column religiously and we are so lucky to have you out there giving us true factual information. I bet you thank your lucky stars you got out when you did. Sincerely Mr. S

Response 1. - Your earned annual leave will paid "precisely" two weeks after your last paycheck. This paycheck will be a paper check (not direct deposited). Your annual leave is paid with the last paycheck, should you have any work hours and with that last pay check is all EARNED annual leave. Depending on if you are craft or EAS, has different answers. Understand this, when you "cash out" as you say, or "selling back your annual leave" or whatever way you say it, yes you can do that....however, you are NOT cashing out the leave for this year, but selling the leave for the coming year...and if you retire, there is no leave for the coming year. That answer above, is why I had not written you back yet. Because I always doubt myself when I hear something so WRONG, that I need to check to see if they have changed the rules on selling your annual leave...I am still checking on give me a little more time. I am so sure I am right, but I have a phone call into a contact in timekeeping to make sure my answer is correct. As far as the form, yes there is a form that you need to fill out..but again...I am waiting on an answer from a finance person. I don't normally take this long to respond, and typically, if I find your question(s) need further information from you, I would ask for your phone number so I could discuss personally. But in this case, I know that many times people are 100% certain, and are 100% certainly wrong. I will assume you are craft person, since you're over the 440 hours. And on top of my reason for thinking they are 100% wrong is the time frame. 11-15 thru 12-15...did they say when you GET the annual leave pay that you are selling? Because if it's in January, and you retire Dec 31st, you are not an employee anymore. Again, I am just talking myself through this because I think the information is not quite accurate, again, unless something has changed...I will get back with you as soon as I am able to get an answer I am comfortable with....I ain't just yet..and I am too old and too knowledgeable to KNOW that I don't know everything all the time, and things change.

Revised Response 1. - There are several "conditions" to buying back your leave, 1. you must have PRECISELY (as a craft employee) 440, and not fraction over or a fraction under; 2. if you have used sick leave in current year, there is a limitation to how much sick leave you use during the year, which could make you ineligible to buy back (or sell) annual leave 3. Since you are retiring, you cannot buy back leave for the next year, because that is what in fact you are doing, you are buying leave from the NEW leave year. This can be verified with any of your timekeeping (TAC's) office in your district. Bottom line the information you received from HRSSC relative to buying back your leave was incorrect. Finally if you were NOT to retire and still bought back leave, you are only allowed to buy 40 hours and that is paid to you in sometime in February.

Question 2. - I worked for the FBI from June 1974 thru June 1975. I then have worked at the po from Feb 1981 to present. Is it necessary for me to buy back my FBI time. I'm not planning on seeking employment after my retirement (which may be sooner than I thought�depending what happens with the po). I'm also civil service. Would you have any idea about how much I would owe in buying back that time. When I resigned from the FBI, I was making $6989 a year. Wow�and I still had enough money for happy hour! I've been trying to work with HR since February on this. They told me it would take about 1 year to get this resolved. Just called them again today�they said they would try to get the paperwork sent out to me. Thank you for your time and I really appreciate your columns on postal mag.

Response 2. - Hi, I will assume that you took a refund of your CSRS money from OPM for the time frame of 6/74 thru 6/75. Additionally, it depends on when you worked for the FBI if you were a "career" employee or not. You need to look at your form 50's from the FBI to see what they say, with respect to being a career employee or not. The Post office should have requested your OPF from the FBI, therefore your form 50's should be in your eOPF NOW!. Go into liteblue and look at your eOPF, to see if it's in there. If not, this may be why they (HRSSC) tells you it will take a year..which I think is ridiculous anyway. Do a little research on your own (in your eOPF). Roseanne

Question 2 a. - Roseanne, I emailed you yesterday regarding my 1 year FBI service. I took your advice and looked at my form 50's and it appears that my FBI time was non career time. I looked at my pay stub and I did not pay into civil service. The FBI did not let you join civil service until you worked for them for 3 years. So, I hope this information will help to answer my questions from yesterday. I sure do appreciate the time and dedication you exhibit in trying to help out the pathetic, poor informed postal myself. I sure miss the good ole days when the post office had a personnel office and you could talk to somebody in person. Oh well....times change. Thank you so much Roseanne!

Question 2 b.- Roseanne... I'm somewhat confused...hard to believe from a postal worker! lol But, HR is giving me credit for that FBI year in my retirement annuity...even though I did not pay into cs. So at present, they are giving me credit for 31 years of service (according to my paperwork) even though I have worked for the post office for 30 years. So I don't have to buy back my FBI year to get credit for the 31 years?

Response 2 a/b. - Tell me on your old form 50's from the FBI, in the section that says retirement, is a code 1 there? When working for the govt back in the 70's some of the time was creditable for retirement purposes. Buying it back may not be necessary, or possible. The best way to tell is to request an annuity estimate and an RTR report from HRSSC. When you get that then perhaps we can figure this out together. When working for the PO I was able to review things like that. I try not to assume too much without knowing all the information. Without all the information I would be uncomfortable giving you guidance, because I may not have all the details for a correct answer. Roseanne

Question 2 c. - Roseanne, I do have an annuity estimate as well as the RTR report. The RTR report was dated 7/7/10 and my annuity estimates have been in the last month. What should I be looking for? Thanks again for your is about ready to drive me to daily drinking!!ha

Response 2 c. - On the annuity estimate look at the RCD/ACD are they the same? (RCD "Retirement Computation Date"; ACD "Annuity Computation Date") Is your EOD and your your RCD and ACD the same? The RTR report, if its the RTR Retirement Plan Correction Report (This is the name of the report, not that it is a correction...don't cha just love it), should show FBI start date, end date, Reported retirement code; calculated retirement code.. on that one if the FBI shows CSRS, then the time IS creditable and can be used for retirement calculations. Understand one thing, that 1 year can be very costly, (with the interest) that it may not be a financial gain to buy it back. If you have the "National Retirement Counseling System, Prior Service Report, that should show how the FBI time is calculated. Sometimes federal years are calculated for RCD "service credible for retirement eligibility" (that should have been sent with the annuity estimate) and ACD "service creditable for annuity computation...they are not always the same, this is where you may find the answers to your questions. That FBI time is no doubt creditable for service for retirement eligibility (RCD) (years) but not for ACD annuity computation, money. That should give you a place to begin at. Roseanne

Question 2 d. - Roseanne... How do you keep all this straight!? On the annuity estimate, the RCD/ACD are the same...and what in the devil is EOD? On the RTR for FBI, the Derived Retirement Code is FICA as well as Retirement Plan. Is this good news or bad news? After all of this...I might just go out on Disability Retirement...mental stress! lol

Final Response : First if the RCD and ACD are the same as your seniority date for bidding purposes, (and if you did not change crafts) then I would say you don't have to buy it back and I am really not sure if you can. EOD is enter on duty..sometimes if no military or no other federal service it will typically be your seniority date for bidding. If the FBI times shows FICA, then it was NOT covered under the CSRS retirement plan. Now the rubber meets the road, can you buy back this one year? Because it was in the early 70's it may be. I would call 1-888-767-6738 (OPM) and just ask them. I am so in the middle on this answer, I am leaning towards no you cannot, but because I know rural carriers can buy back/FICA time performed during the 70's I am not sure. Give OPM a call for a direct answer. Roseanne

Till we speak again.....Roseanne

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