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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 October 2012
Good Day Postal Employees!!!!

I have just returned from a NY/NJ to assist with some difficult family issues, and found out readers emailing me information that an early out was offered for APWU, and even with an incentive!! To those who have written me asking for either guidance or some glimmer of hope that they would offer an early out, you will attest to this... I have said all along there will be more early outs...I didn't think they could/would offer an incentive, given the fact that this is the second time, because they defaulted on a payment to OPM.

For me, I understand (from a management perspective)how 10 or 15 thousand is a drop in the bucket for them, because they spend so much on each employee's benefits!! That is why when you receive your Personal Statement of Benefits, everyone says..I wish I really did make this much, or really...I make that much!!..on paper yes. So when you look at how much the post office pays into their employee's overall benefits, to give the incentive ensures that those on the fence will go, thus continuing to reduce benefit costs. This SHOULD make you see that they are in serious need of a total restructure, if they intend on saving the institution of the Postal Service. IF YOU CAN ..GO..GO!!!! early out like this, the wide scope of occupation codes that this VERA includes, a financial incentive, may not ever come this way again. YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD...YOU ALWAYS ASK...WELL THIS IS IT...YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD...IF YOU CAN RETIRE, RETIRE!

Q 1. Hi Roseanne,I read about the code you were talking about whether or not you are affected by the civil service offset; on my check stub right above the figure of how much I paid into the system are the words ''USPS RETIREMENT"...on the line above this what looks like the roman numeral 1. Is this the number code you were referring to? If necessary I will scan and send you a copy of my check stub . Thanks so much for your help. I was NRP'D in Nov. of 2010 but fortunately I had enough yrs..32 yrs. 5 months, that I just went on regular retirement instead of OWCP. I still get all my Dr. visits and procedures and medicine paid for thru OWCP. I am getting close to social security age and would like to know how I stand on that issue...Thank-you ....EM

A 1. Thank you Roseanne, I was hoping for better news but I had already been to social security office and heard about this. I was hoping they were wrong and my social security will be basically almost dollar for dollar what your husband's amount is. Guess I was blessed to retire with my high 3 yr., on a 47k route. Thanks again.....EM

Q 2. Roseanne, I have a question for you! A friend of mine is retiring after 32 years of service, she will be retiring from being a Rural Carrier under CSRS. Her husband works for the Postal Service, and will be working another 5 years at least. What she is thinking of doing is to have her husband change his health insurance from individual to family. Would it be better for her to retire with her own health insurance. Thank you M.

A 2. Hi M, As I am sure you are aware from your annuity estimate, as a retiree, the health benefits cost much more. So from that perspective, yes it would be cheaper for the "still employee" to pay for family coverage. But it can be a pain, when one spouse is retired and other working spouse is paying the FEHB, when it comes time for that OTHER spouse to retire. They have NOW a form that goes with the retirement package that identifies if the "current" employee, is being carried on another FEHB policy (i.e.-retired spouse), making it a bit easier now to convert. But if you want my opinion, for my own personal experience with me carrying the HB entire marriage, then postmaster husband still carrying the FEHB (family), and then I retired. What saved us from much grief, was that I changed to single coverage during open season, and my retired husband, during open season also changed to single coverage. So try to change that BEFORE's much easier and cheaper. When you apply for retirement and carry family can't change AT THAT TIME each of you going single-single until open season again. That could be months of paying family coverage, which costs more than 2 single coverages in the same plan. Hopefully this has helped you make a good decision prior to retirement. Take care, Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, I am currently a clerk at USPS and was hired in 2006. I recently graduated from college and will be looking for a new career, but I have a couple of questions regarding my retirement benefits when I leave USPS. I am 28 years old, very far away from retirement, but I am wondering what I am entitled to besides my TSP when I finally do resign? Everyone I have asked seem to have different answers completely. As far as I know, I am able to roll my TSP into an IRA but what about FERS? Will I be entitled to anything? Thank you in advance, VS

A 3. Hi V, Yes you would be entitled to YOUR contributions into the FERS retirement system. After resignation, and you receive your Form 50..Resignation, then you can contact OPM for SF Form 3106 "Refund of FERS Retirement Contributions". You can contact TSP at 1-877-968-3778, after you receive your Resignation Form 50. Roseanne

Q 4.Roseanne, My husband is a clerk at the post office. He has 40 yrs or almost 40 years in the PO. We are hoping he will be offered a buy out this year or early next year as the other crafts this year. Do you think this a buyout is possible this year for clerk craft? Also, we are concerned about health care benefits and how much that will cost us monthly ( I do not have any benefits as a realtor as I am an independent contractor). We are concerned about the election year and if he should retire now rather than after the presidential election and loose out on the current benefits offered to retirees. Your opinion is appreciated. L & F

A 4. Hi L & F, I have kept an open mind about this clerk buy out. It seems that the clerk positions, particularly in smaller Associate Offices..(for us HR postal employee's, known as Tiny Town, USA), because EVERY state has them), and "manual" distribution in smaller offices can be combined in bigger offices, which appears is what they are doing. So the meaning of that to me, since much of the "distribution" of mail is more computerized (with bar coding)and with offices consolidating (smaller offices being absorbed by the larger offices, and that SHOULD early out VERA. However, as I have written before, maybe not on the column, but certainly to individuals... Really!! how many times can the post office offer monetary incentives to retire & (to some that are already eligible to RETIRE); which then is reported on news shows to the public. THEN on the news reveals that the Postal Service did not pay retirement payments to OPM (for 2 months so far) and THEN ON TOP IT IT..keep crying broke!!

The general PUBLIC would NEVER understand that logic. For me, I understand the why's and how's an incentive is SO DOABLE, because I understand how much an employee "costs" in just benefits alone. So the 15G incentive over 2 years...please... is a GIFT financially for the post office...because you see that is JUST HOW MUCH AN EMPLOYEE'S BENEFITS COST the post office, that no ever looks at, except 1 time a year....when you get your Employee's Benefit Statement. It looks like you make a lot more than you do. But the fact is, the Postal Service pays that in your behalf in benefits. That being said, I am not sure about an incentive for all the reasons I cited above. But I do foresee another round of VERA's and no doubt clerks eventually. But understand sometimes when they will do a "clerk" it may be only certain occupational codes and not ALL clerks.

Yea, I would be real concerned about the state of health benefits, we are kind of an "insulated" federal agency, in that we are the only ones that "PAY OUR OWN WAY" (you know.. not funded by TAX dollars). However, again...just my opinion (that you asked for) does not matter what side of the aisle you sit on dem or repub, if the current administration changes, all federal employees, including the post office very well may be affected, because of that party's agenda and idea's about "federal workers". If that happens, it could lead to the post office being approved to "incorporate" their own health benefit plan..only for postal employees. My response to that: "yea whatever, because you were so successful handling the "injured" employees you had...NRP, you create you own health benefit plan..please..OK I'm done on that.

Now all that above was "conversation about postal things". Let's talk about your husband. I will tell you that with 40 years of service, that his retirement annuity will net pretty much about the same as his working net FACT...FACT...FACT if a CSRS employee.

Federal retirement does include a provision for providing a spousal annuity (the employee does have much leeway in this area..w/spousal consent) and by doing that, the spouse becomes entitled to an annuity should her/his federal spouse pass away. And if the postal employee provides a spouse with a spousal annuity (upon their death), then that widow/widower will always be eligible for Federal Health Benefits,(based upon THEIR spouse)..(however, there are a few exceptions to that). I would call 1-877-477-3273 and request an annuity estimate for December 2012. I am sure if there are 40 years involved you are aware of the estimates I am referring to, since your husband should have been getting these for about 10 years now. Hopefully this has helped you with understanding of this very involved retirement process. Take care, Roseanne

Q 5. Roseanne, I have over 28 yrs service with the post office. I submitted my disability retirement papers March 10, 2012 they got to a lady named (B's)desk. She is in the appeals section. ( I do not know why it would be there?) Anyway she has had it since 05/09/2012. I have called at least 2-3 times a month. Should I be calling? I can not talk to her, or leave a message, and she has never called me back. I read somewhere on the net that if it takes this long it means they are going to deny it. I am trying to work because I am out of leave and cannot afford to take off without pay.

A 5. Hi E, When a disability retirement case is in the appeals sections, that is because it was denied the first go-round; thus("appeal"). Although I will say, for it to go from it's initial review stage in March 2012, and then just 2 months later in May in the appeals section, sounds rather quickly to me. When a case goes to the "appeals section" typically is because your physician's narrative(s) were not "supportive" enough for an approval. I would continue to call this person named "B" and leave messages. If I were you, I would review all the narrative's your physicians wrote for you, (I KNOW YOU MADE COPIES OF EVERYTHING!!...PLEASE SAY THAT YOU DID!!!) and THEN begin to work on the re-consideration process, BEFORE THEY TELL YOU THAT YOU WERE DENIED. And for that, it is always, always, always...the doctor(s) paperwork that was INSUFFICIENT to support an approval for a disability retirement...ALWAYS!! Roseanne

Q 6. Hi Roseanne, I retired from USPS on early out Nov. 1 2009. My monthly CSA (Civil Service Annuity) is $2600.00 before any deductions. I only have 30 credits paid into my social security account. If I took a part time job making $300.00 per week until age 62 what would be my civil service offset? How much social security would I draw? Would it be worth my time to work part time? I was also medically retired from USN and draw a VA check of $1160.00. I am 57 years old. Thank-you.R

A 6. Hi R, You would have to work (2-2.5 years) to gain those 10 quarters. Each year counts as 4 quarters, although to get 4 quarters (now), you really don't have to work the entire year, it's now an earnings figure. You will need to check with the Social Security office for the precise dollar figure, and also find out while you are there, what would your SS check be at age 62.

....YOU GOT TO DO IT THERE AT THE SS OFFICE...CALLING ON THE PHONE DOES NOT GET YOU THE RESULTS YOU NEED. SO let us fast forward 2.5 years.... and you worked and now have 40 quarters. Take that monthly figure that you got when you were at the SS office (2-2.5yrs ago)and then reduce that figure by 2/3rds, and that is what your monthly SS check would be. Also, when you obtain those total 40 quarters....the SS office (will KNOW) you are a federal employee. Remember, when at the Social Security office, understand they have the same retirement systems as we do. So when they are looking into your work history, they know you will be getting a federal annuity; and they will also know if you are CSRS or FERS, by your contribution (or lack of) into the Social Security fund. They are able to tell you how much your SS check will be. You can find out EVEN before you work these 2 - 2.5 years, I did. For me, I have 28 CSRS annuity is about 2900 per month before taxes, and if I worked and got my total 40 quarters...I would receive $103. per month...sad ain't it!! Roseanne

Till we speak again...Roseanne

Good Day Postal Employees!! There is a very little known FABULOUS DEAL that you could be passing by when you retire. Are you interested?

For those of you who may retire NOT AT THE END OF THE YEAR....say between February through July....AND YOU SIGNED UP FOR THE HEALTH FSA, FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNT for the next year...say the year 2013, and then retire in Feb or March :) whatever, you "agreed" to in your FSA agreement (done during open season 2012), you are able to spend the entire amount, as long as you spend it prior to your last day on the rolls, regardless if your last day of work is Jan 31st or July 31st. Let me explain, how this works.

At the end of 2008 during open season, I signed up for Health FSA, for the coming year 2009, for maximum amount (at that time $5000). That resulted in a deduction from my paycheck of $192.30 bi-weekly. AGAIN The agreement was $5000. One of the great financial advantages of doing this, is that $192.30 is not taxed. Meaning if my gross pay was 1500.00, I would pay federal tax on 1307.70 (because like health benefit premiums, FSA is also pre-taxed). See below for a better look at the example figures:

Bi-Weekly Gross Pay: 1500.00
FSA (pre tax) 192.30
Health Benefits: pre tax 45.20 (237.50)
1262.50 That is what your federal tax is based on! This is why there are TWO Gross amounts on your W-2 statements....pre tax deductions.

As you all should know, PP 2, all financial changes take place for the new year, new health plan if you changed, annual leave is advanced, new FSA accounts..all of those open season changes are now reflected on your PP-2 pay stub. So if you have never done an FSA use $2500.00 per year (the new maximum), for a user friendly explanation of this fab deal.

When you sign up for FSA (during the FSA open season...for the following year), you agree to have 96.15 per pay, deposited in the FSA account (for a total of $2500.00 for 26 pay periods). In turn, you must use ALL OF THAT $2500.00 within the calendar year. IF YOU DON'T, there is no refund of your unused contributions. YOU LOSE WHATEVER MONEY LEFT THAT YOU DID NOT USE TOWARDS YOUR HEALTH CARE IN THAT YEAR. This is why it is important to not to over estimate what you may use for health care expenses, because if you don't use it all, it's refund!

BUT STAY WITH ME so you understand this!!...So on January 17th, you find out you need to have major dental work, and it costs $2500.00, you can use all $2500.00 on January 17th for that dental work even though you may have only contributed say $288.45 (or just 3 pay period deductions each being $96.15 per pay period).

OK now let's add an early out offer to this scenario, as it was in my case. The VERA early out says you have to leave on Jan 31, 2013, and you used the $2500.00 on your dental work on January 17th...what happens....NOT A THING! Do you have to pay back the money you used that you did not put in the fund? NO, you don't. Why not? For the same reason that when you don't use all the money in the FSA fund, you don't get it's the agreement.

For a real life example, let's go back to me. I worked 13 pay periods in 2009, and contributed (half of the agreement ) $2500.00 to the FSA fund (the original agreement was 5000.00). An early out for EAS was offered, effective July 31, 2009, and I took the VERA.

I was able (AND DID) use nearly all $5000.00 of my FSA money (the dates of my services HAD TO BE JULY 31ST OR EARLIER), and because of the agreement I did not have to pay it back.

NOW!!! I am hoping this is crystal clear..I am hoping this is a road map for you..I hope you understand what I said.....till we speak again...Roseanne

The 10-4-2012 Postal Bulletin announced a reduction in the Health Care maximum contribution for 2013. "Effective with the 2013 Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) plan year, which begins January 1, 2013, the Health Care FSA maximum contribution is being reduced from $5,000 to $2,500. This is an individual limit, not a family limit; an employee and a spouse may each contribute up to $2,500 to a Health Care FSA. The reduction is required to comply with provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Program materials and the PostalEASE employee self-ser�vice enrollment system will reflect the lower maximum con�tribution. Program materials will be issued as in past years to coincide with FSA open season, which begins in Novem�ber 2012."

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