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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 2013
Good Day Postal Employees!!  I would like to thank everyone for your prayers and genuine concern for my daughter Hope.  We are almost done with her second round of chemotherapy (Round 2 after surgery weekly chemo treatments, lasted about 15 weeks).  She will have a slight break, and then will begin radiation treatment, with a time frame that has not been fully established.  Again, my thanks to all of you that have kept her in your prayers, thoughts and heart.

I will begin this month's column with "OH NO YOU DID-INT". ...After answering a ridiculous number of emails, that pretty much said  "Roseanne, when is there going to be another early out ?"  or  "Roseanne, if there is an early out, do you foresee any incentive with it".  If you will go back and read some of my earlier column responses, I say that I did and do believe that there would be more early outs offered and I also felt that there would NOT BE a monetary incentive on the next round(s).
And so, again�.we have another round of Early Out Retirements (VERA) for selected positions, as in this case, certain Postmaster's in selected occupation codes.  And NO, the postmasters in this round of early out's are NOT getting any incentive money, as the mail handlers or clerks did in the prior early out authority for them�.for a very good reason�because if they REALLY  understand what is going on, they will RUN out the door, without an incentive.

Many employees both EAS and craft are being offered positions with schedules of less than 40 hours per week.  In these cases, employees are being told that they will have "saved salary" for 2 years, and although true and sounding good on the outside�.. is it really???  If you are a Postmaster or a clerk, and your job is being abolished or eliminated due to POStPlan, EAS employees are being offered such positions as EPM-55 postmasters, (a position title that has been, for lack of a better word "resurrected"); and craft employees are being offered positions as Part time Regular..and the slang position NTFT called a "nifty clerk".  

But it is very important to understand the REAL ISSUE of going from a full time (40 hours per week) to a Non-Traditional Full Time (NTFT) (which is OPM's language for these less than 40 hr a week positions). In the post office many are called Part time Regular, typically with hours ranging from 30-36 per week.  I am going stop here and have you think about this issue, and how it would relate to your retirement calculations when you spend "X" number of years in the NEW position NOT WORKING A FULL 40 hours per week/80 hours a pay period. YOU MUST THINK ABOUT THIS FROM PURELY A FISCAL PERSPECTIVE�because they are�...
Example:  You are offered "saved salary" and you were making $56,804 yearly as an EAS-13 Postmaster (which is your High-3 average salary), and you took a position as a "part-time" regular Postmaster, going from an EAS-13 to EPM-55, working 32 hours a week.  Do you really think that you are going to still make $56,804 per year????�simply because you were told you are "keeping the same salary for 2 years", but working only 32 hours�OF COURSE NOT!!  What will happen is your $56,804 is calculated to the hourly figure of $27.31 (56,804 divided by 2080= $27.31 per hour).  Then you are paid $27.31 x 32 hours (or 64 hours per pay period).  That translates to $45,443 per year in your new position, reducing your gross yearly income by $11,361.00.  When retiring (even) if only in this 32 hour a week position for as little as 6 months, it begins to REDUCE your annuity, and the longer you stay in this position, the worse the reduction becomes.  THIS IS WHAT THE PRO-RATION FACTOR IS ALL ABOUT.  The below information is taken directly from OPM, as it relates to this subject.
"This alert clarifies how we should proceed USPS cases with an "NT" (or "NTFT) schedule.  During the past year, the USPS has been sending IRR"s with an "NT" notation next to the pay rates in the Service History Remarks.  The USPS has defined NT as  "non-traditional full time".  We view any work schedule under 40 hours a week, or 80 hours a pay period to be a part-time work schedule and therefore will process claims with the NT work schedules of less than 40 hours a week/80 hours a pay period in the same manner as we compute USPS cases based on part time regular work schedules.  We will credit any reported hours worked in excess of the stated tour, NTE 40 hour a week/80 hours per pay period in the computation of the proration factor."
And all of that means that when computing retirement, you cannot only use the standard computations alone.  If using FERS as the example retirement system; calculation is of 1% of the Hi-3 average salary, times the number of years worked.  That gives the yearly gross amount, which then is divided by 12 giving a monthly annuity.  (That figure is WITHOUT the reduction of 10% for the spousal annuity)�..and that would be the correct figure�because it is THE BEGINNING FIGURE, (the Hi-3 Average Salary) before the proration factor reduces it. 
In this case, as above with a salary of $56,804�your high-3 is always going to be your high 3, and that figure IS USED to determine your annuity. And then�.that figure will be pro rated by the number of weeks or pay periods that you did not work a full 40/80 but 32/64.  The percentage of weeks/pay periods in the less than 40/80 is calculated and the percentage of that is based against your OVERALL years bringing you to a reduced annuity percentage. 

Example:�Working 25 years, and the last 6 months of your employment you work a NTFT position of 32 hours per week or 64 hours per pay period.  That will have a 2% reduction, so YOUR hi-3 is STILL $56,804 but now its reduced by 2%, bringing the hi-3 to $55,667.00, (98% of your Hi-3 Average salary).  Then the annuity calculation begins with 1% X $55,667 now, not $56,804.  So the longer you work in the less than 40 hour a week job, the less you WILL have as retirement income from FERS.
In a quick scenario, taken from the figures above, when I applied this to someone who was trying to decide to retire, with 25 years (with 5-6 months working a 32 hour week position), and was trying to decide should they work 5 more years.  With the pro-ration factor applied (because if retiring then (5 years from now) we calculate 30 years, (of that 30 years, now 5 years and 6 months are part time).  After the proration was applied, AND WORKING 5 MORE YEARS, their monthly annuity was $9.00 dollars more a month gross,  than it was if retiring with the 25 years (& 6 months of part time hours).  PLEASE ---I KNOW THIS IS VERY CONFUSING�AND I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT calculate everyone's current and future retirement if you write and ask me�it's very labor intensive, and I am doing this manually, whereas, OPM has computers to do this.  
AND THAT BEING SAID�.if you are one of the postmasters that have been given an early out VERA offer, countless numbers of you received your annuity estimates WITH ABSOLUTELY NO GROSS MONTHLY FIGURES ON THE ANNUITY ESTIMATE WHATSOEVER!!  And then expect you to make a decision, by an irrevocable drop dead date if you wanted to retire�really!!!! Based on WHAT!�NO information!!   Who does that!!  Who retires not knowing how much EVEN the gross annuity is, even before any deductions are made.  Seriously�.do you apply for a job, get the job, and then go home and tell your spouse, hey honey, I got a job�and the spouse says�.GREAT!!!, how much will you be making�.and the newly employed spouse says, gee I don't know, I guess I will find out when I get my paycheck�ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! 
Like I said in the beginning of this column "Oh NO you did-ent"

Q 1. Hi Roseanne-  would like to know what is the earliest I could retire?  I am 54 years old and began my career as a carrier in the post office.  I was 41 when I began, and I am under the FERS retirement system.  I bought back my 7 years of military, so I currently have 20 years of service. My question is when I can go without penalty?  Thank you so much for all the years of us carriers reading your columns in the break room, it's obvious to us, you are a postal employee to the BONE...�.you have been a life saver to many.  Thanks, HB
A  1. Hi HB,  You can retire at your MRA (no doubt 56) as long as you have at least 10 years of credible service, however, that is NOT full retirement and does have a 5% reduction penalty for each year under age 62, AND can only do that IF you are AT your MRA.  So for you, that won't be for another 2 years, and it still is not full retirement. AND on top of the 5% reduction applied to your annuity, you also LOSE OUT on the Special Supplement.  So, other than an early out or discontinued service retirement, which means you must have at least 25 years (at any age) or at least be age 50, with 20 years to retire, you should not consider it.  Be aware that when you are offered an early out, there is NO 5% reduction on age�.AND if you are AT your MRA you ARE eligible for the Special Supplement.  If not at MRA,when you reach your MRA, then your Special Supplement will begin (again this is under early out criteria only).  And thank you, yes postal to the core!  Roseanne
Q 2. Hi, I will be leaving the USPS in a few days and would like to know what forms I need to fill out. I am a letter carrier with 28 yrs of service at 51 years of age.   Thanks, G

A 2. Hi G, if you are resigning then you should be/should have already been calling HRSSC @ 1-877-477-3273, & to assist you in the resignation process.  They will send you the forms.  If you are retiring.... that call should have been made months ago, and you should have signed all papers and should already be turned in.  IF not, then I suggest you calling them to discuss this with them.  Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne,  I am a career employee with the USPS for 33 years.  I have recently taken a job as a carrier supervisor level 17.  As a topped out clerk I received an annual pay of $53,500.  I now receive pay of $56,500 at level 17.  I recently found out that EAS employees do not qualify for any COLA.  I only have 3 years 10 months until retirement and am wondering if I would have received a better retirement as a craft employee receiving future COLAs or did I make the right decision trying to keep my high three at a higher pay level?  Thanks for your advice.  JM

A. 3 Hi JM - you made the right choice. There may be NO Cola as an EAS, (in the same way it is done as a craft employee�EAS has increases based on merits, but in this climate, perhaps there will not be any those anyway) but you will have added $3000, annually to your salary, which will be included in the overall retirement calculations, AND, and that is HUGE.  What if in a wholesale "Postal Reorganization, and positions such as clerks are being " re-defined", as the example with the new position "NonTraditional Full Time".  If after, this round of early out's and regular retirements, there is a reorganization, and they abolish all clerk positions, to redefine and apply new (and perhaps less than 40 hour a week) schedules; and then must bid to secure a new position, that may be anywhere from from 30-36 hours per week. That ALONE...will begin to degrade how your annuity is calculated, ... called the pro ration factor... you made the right choice.  I will be addressing that issue, from the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) perspective in my next column. Roseanne
Q 4. Hi Roseanne,  God bless your daughter and you. Thank you for all of your informative information. I worked for the postal service from 1986-1989. Subsequently I was reinstated 1990 to present both under the FERS retirement system . Eight months ago I submitted form 3108 for a redeposit of funds back into the FERS retirement system. OPM just sent me form R136-23 of what I owed plus interest. I mailed check back to OPM claim # and date of birth.  My question is OPM supposed to send me a copy of my paid invoice so I can forward it on to HRSSC so they can update my annuity computation date? Thank you, R.

A. 4. Hi R, first thing to do is get a copy of that cancelled check both sides. That beyond all words is undeniable evidence that you paid it in full, & you have a date in which that happened on the check. That, with a copy of the SF3108, showing the pay off figure is concrete. How you should approach this is REGARDLESS if you receive a letter from OPM, you want to see in your  "postal history" if you have been credited with those years. You can do this by going to your eOpf on line at liteblue and postal ease and check to see. You should have a PS Form 50 cut, changing your RCD, (retirement computation date). If you are trying to line your ducks up in row before retirement ( soon) then don't sleep this... Stay on it..not because you won't be credited with it, you will... It's just the bs hassle it takes when form 50's don't line up with current information.  Thank you for your expression of  empathy for my daughter, I am humbled by her strength. Roseanne
Q 4. Follow up - Hi Roseanne again . Just a follow up to your response of my FERS Redeposit. Yes I do want to line up all my ducks in a row before retirement. I did receive a letter from OPM verifying my years of employment and amount due plus interest from the postal service which I have already paid back. My question is should I send back a copy of the letter from OPM which includes my years of service and amount due plus interest along with a copy of my cancelled check to HRSSC?  All the best to you and your family!
Q 4. Follow up Response - Yes I would. Then wait about 2 pay periods, & if you don't receive a PS Form 50 in the mail, changing your RCD & ACD (Retirement & Annuity Computation Dates), then call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273 & inquire when the form 50 is going to be processed on your buy back. 2 pay periods IS MORE THAN sufficient time for them to complete this. Remember you want this to show on your "form 50 history".   Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne,  I retired last year after almost 38 years.  I reviewed all the early out information, attended several seminars that were given;   watched all the retirement videos and went through HRSSC for my counseling session on the phone.  The retirement videos state a retiree can be reemployed by the Post Office as a rural route sub or a PMR with no offset to retirement. I also called shared services and they agreed.  My Post Office  rehired me as a rural route sub and now personnel in ANY CITY, USA is saying it will affect my retirement.  My postmaster had me call OPM and they said personnel needs to follow the CSRS/FERS retirement handbook chapter 100 to do this. Do you have any advice on how I can proceed with this situation between OPM  and personnel?  I would really like to start working again!  Thank you for your help,  JR
A. 5. Hi JR,  You do understand by asking me this question, you are basically are asking me to give you instructions for you to tell YOUR PERSONNEL office HOW do this�sad isn't it.  Yes you can work as a PMR or TRC after retirement.  However, there are "conditions" that surround that type of employment, as well as regulations that must be followed by the District you are trying to work for.  There is required to paperwork to complete for OPM that is signed off by the HR Manager, AND YOU!! with the understanding of the "limitation" that you can work.
You can work ONLY 180 days ( in each calendar year) without if affecting your annuity.  On day 181 it becomes a dollar for dollar reduction.  One of the reasons that ANY CITY, USA may be saying no, is that, you CANNOT just re-hire an annuitant, without going through the proper procedures for implementing this position.  There are required steps to this process, one is that the District Office MUST VALIDATE by virtue of announcement(s) or newspaper advertising, that they have tried EVERY POSSIBLE WAY TO HIRE someone (other than you, a retiree) and were UNSUCCESSFUL.  I suspect that has not been done, and typically is not done, because to have that position "legal" the district need to follow the proper procedures.  And in this case, was not done, or you would not be writing me, for instructions to give your District Office on how to accomplish this.  OPM is not IMPRESSED by us as an organization, because they can see we try to get AROUND doing what is regulations.  A typical scenario is: this job was "promised" to you when you were retiring, to supplement your income and to "encourage" you to retire.  Because normally (after 38 years) when you retire,�YER DONE!!  IT's a RAP !! Not taking orders anymore, no deadlines, no creep overtime, no COA files, no watching everyone else's sick leave, and know when they are sick�there went your merit�because otherwise, why didn't you just stay.  I would say this probably will not be done by your district, at least in this climate of the PO where every possible job is going to be taken by those that are employed, or are looking for a "landing spot" when a current employee's job has been eliminated.
You worked 38 years, and folks are scrambling for jobs because the Postal Service is downsizing and  eliminating jobs left and right.  Employees are just looking to KEEP a job and a place to work�SHAME ON YOU!!  If you worked 38 years, then you are a CSRS employee.   And since I know retirements�( I live and breath it), I KNOW FOR FACT!! that your take home monthly annuity is almost exactly the same as your take home working salary, when you were employed.  I tell many retired postal employees who ask this same question�..the Post Office is NOT the only employer in your city.  Why would ANYONE ever chance losing a dollar of their hard earned retirement, to go back to where they retired from???? , when you can work at ANY OTHER JOB, (OTHER THAN FEDERAL) with no reduction to your annuity�.it just amazes me.  
Till we speak again��..Roseanne

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