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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 September 2012
Good Day Postal Employees:

It has been an extremely HOT summer and as always I give a sincere SHOUT OUT to all the carriers who have braved the heat these past few months. Our carriers are simply amazing...

And the hits just keep on coming....Another round of VERA's for EAS employees..ahh but with NO INCENTIVE. Now I wonder,...who keeps saying that over and over again, yes to more VERA's but not feelin' any incentive money with the VERA)???

Q 1. I am 45 with 17 years postal and 4 years military. Can I retire now and receive an annuity at my MRA? Would it be a retirement request or resignation? Trying to figure my options if something comes up to leave this place. R

A. 1 -Hi R, In a If you paid back your military, (prior to resignation) that would give you 21 years at age 60 or 62. If you resigned, you could receive "Postponed Annuity Benefits". Let me quote FERS information on Postponed Annuity Benefits: "Separating employees can reduce or eliminate the age reduction by postponing the commencing date of the MRA +10 annuity. A former employee eligible for an immediate MRA +10 may elect a postponed retirement benefit at any time after he or she separates from Federal Service. (A former employee who has not begun to receiving a postponed MRA +10 annuity may still elect to receive his annuity retroactively to the first of the month following separation from his or her last period of Federal employment.)"

Annuity Reduction for Age: The postponed annuity is reduced by 5/12ths of 1% for each full month (5% per year) by the which is chosen commencing date precedes the employee's 62nd birthday. There is not age reduction if the annuity commencing date is less than 1 full month before the employee reaches age 62.

Age 60 w/20 Years of Service: If the employee has complete 20 years of creditable service, there is no age reduction if the annuity is postponed to age 60."....Roseanne

Q 2. - Hello Roseanne, I am struggling to understand how best to take care of me. I am new to your columns on Postalmag but found your January, 2011, column regarding the USPS Retirement field on pay stubs most interesting. What hazards must I be aware of if I withdraw this money? Where can I learn the truth?

I have a balance of close to $8,000 in the USPS Retirement field, could I use this money to buy some "time" to become eligible for an annuity or is it best just to withdraw the monies?

I began with the Postal Service in 1982 before FERS in a non-career Postal position. My contract(s) were directly with the USPS. I became a "permanent" USPS employee in April of '84 and left the service In Oct. 2005. What must I do to qualify for an annuity? I am now 56 yrs old. I have no military service. I did not meet the requirements to attend a USPS sponsored retirement seminar before separating from the USPS.

A 2.- I guess I should start out by explaining that the retirement money, (which is totaled at the bottom of your pay stub) is IN the FERS RETIREMENT FUND AT OPM. You CANNOT withdraw your retirement funds UNLESS you resign. As far as where you can learn the truth, seems like you "found" me! Again, this money is only "available" two ways:

1. you resign and you request your retirement funds from OPM **
2. you retire...BUT that money is NOT refunded. It has a matching component that the post office contributed (the same amount as is listed as your total contributions. Although not very much, even at retirement, that money cannot be withdrawn if you retire, as you would be receiving a monthly annuity. ** Just to be clear....if you were to resign, and request a refund of your retirement contributions, ONLY THE PORTION YOU PAID is refunded, not the matching funds that the post office contributed.

Based upon the information you provided, that you became a career employee 1984 (FERS), and resignation 2005 (w/21.6 years), and are now 56 (I suspect YOUR MRA.) I will make the assumption that you either resigned or were fired, matters not either way...what matters is when can you get your money, and how to get it. First, if you apply to withdraw your retirement funds, you WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE to collect an annuity. Your eligibility begins at age 60. You will be able to collect an annuity, when you turn 62 (FERS retirement regulations).

Your idea about withdrawing the money to "buy some time" until you become eligible for retirement would cancel your ability to have a monthly annuity. I am not sure what your High 3 average salary was in 2005, but I do know that the 20+ years you have invested, would net you 1% of your high 3 average salary times 20, then divided by 12. Meaning, YOU DON'T WANT TO PULL OUT THAT 8 GRAND, BECAUSE although it's only 8G, your annuity is worth FAR MORE than 8G. Let me give you an example. Let's say your high 3 average salary was 50,000, your monthly annuity would be $833.00 gross per month FOR LIFE..... so why would you do that??? This is why no one tells people the truth...they let you think you can take out this retirement money, (and of course you can), but by doing that....NO RETIREMENT annuity would be available. And to address your concerns about not being able to attend any retirement seminars, that is pretty typical all around the country. And really, it probably would not have mattered. In 2005, how we communicated personnel related information changed dramatically. We revamped orientation, and there was no real push in the any of the HR District Offices, to conduct seminars or training on retirement, benefits etc. It was expected that all postal employees would read the booklets and pamphlets given to them at orientation, and all letter communication, sent from HQ. By the time you get to an age where retirement is in reach...most FERS employees have pissed away their REAL RETIREMENT MONEY (TSP) by not contributing enough to "force" the post office to match their funds in TSP.

Sincerely, I hope this has enlightened you and at least given you the information so that you don't make a huge mistake by requesting a refund.....pssst! "that is what they want you to do".. Think about it...give you 8G, or pay you 833.00 a month for the rest of your life...which one do you think they would rather you do??? Roseanne

Q 3.-Roseanne, I am considering retiring 12/30/12. My RCD , service creditable for retirement eligibility dates as of 5/08/1975, however my ACD, service creditable for annuity retirement dates as of 3/17/1978. I requested and received from OPM a balance due of just over 9,000. owed for non deduction service, performed prior to 10/1/1982. Do I understand correctly that my annuity will be reduced annually by 10% of that balance due? And if I paid the deposit would it change the amount of the annuity back to the earlier date of 5/08/1975? I suppose the difference between the RCD and ACD is that as a substitute rural carrier I did not work full time and thus my annuity is pro rated only from 3/17/1978. Thank you for any insight you can give me into this issue. JE

A 3.- _Hi JE, I know paying it back this late in the game is really much money in just interest!! I will assume (just by the years) that you are CSRS, and so this information is for a CSRS employee...not CSRS/offset. If you are a code 1, you are CSRS, if you are a code 5 you are CSRS/offset. It would be much better if you identified that for me, so I can give you more accurate information. Roseanne

Q 3. Follow-up: Roseanne, Thank you so much for a reply to my question regarding paying a CSRS deposit I owe. But for work I did in the private sector in the 1970s, and part time work I had a few years ago outside of the Postal Service I am a Rural letter carrier hired on a regular basis listed from 1981. The unfunded periods I can pay CSRS deposit on are from non funded rural letter carrier work I did from periods between between 7/1975 to 01/1981. I did have some funded periods to CSRS in the 1970s as a part time seasonal employee of the IRS. As I have no deductions on my Federal pay stub I assume I am not CSRS offset though I do have the required amount of periods paying into SSI to receive a minimal SSI annuity at age 62. Am i correct in assuming that CSRS offset on applies to employment begun after 1984? Thanks again for your advice on my situation as it is very difficult to contact or get answers from HRSSC or OPM. JE

A 3. Follow-up Answer: Hi JE, First, look on your pay stub in the "retirement box" and if the code is "1" you are CSRS; if the code is "5" your CSRS/offset; if the code is "8" your are FERS; if the code is "A" you are FERS w/Frozen CSRS time. YOUR RETIREMENT CODE IS CRUCIAL in giving you the correct answer.

Once that is established then you "buying back" your non-career rural time can be reviewed. Sometimes it really does not make financial sense to buy back the non-career time! The only way to know that is for you to order an "annuity estimate" (which also should have the additional paperwork in that estimate regarding ALL periods of federal and/or military time) from HRSSC, and then contact me, so I can give you a personal response, based on YOUR retirement system. Roseanne

Q 4. -Roseanne, I am retiring under the VERA at the end of September. I have over 630 hours of annual leave. Will I be paid by the USPS the entire number of hours when I retire, or will I have to use some of that leave before I retire? TM

A 4. -Hi TM, Depends on a few things...are you EAS or Craft? Roseanne

Q 4. Follow-up: I am an EAS employee. I'm getting out on the incentive for PM's. They extended my retirement date by 60 days. Thanks for the fast response. TM

Q 4. Follow-up Answer: Hi TM, For EAS employees the carry over 560. You are paid for ALL OF YOUR "EARNED" ANNUAL LEAVE, particularly when it is in conjunction with an early out. So to figure this out...look at your pay stub. YOU are PAID FOR WHAT YOU EARNED. So at pay period 13, (and I know yours was extended), you only earned 104 AL hours for the year. You would take what you carried over from 2011, add the 104 (add 8 hours for each PP after PP13) and of course reduce annual leave you used. If it is over the 560, you still will be paid. REASON: Because in an early out scenario, you were not able to USE the annual leave without losing it within the year. Roseanne

Final Response 4- Wow! You are good. Thank you.

Q 5.- Hi Roseanne, I know that no one really "knows" the answer, but I am very curious (and hopeful)... do you expect a VERA offer of any kind (incentive or not) by the end of this year, or 2013 for City Mail Carriers with the USPS. I've completed 27 years, and am more than ready to go. Any Chance? What percentage would you give it that we get an offer by the end of this year? How about 2013? ...How about EVER? Sick smile Thanks D.

A 5. Hi D, Right now I don't see that happening (for carriers) until a complete overhaul is made of the structure. What I mean is how we deliver mail, time standards, color coding, route changes etc. They very well could offer an early out to the carriers after they have reconstructed delivery to incorporate a 5 day delivery; change entirely how many days they have to get a letter from across the street to across the country. We all know that anything that has to get there overnight, ....are papers that have a WET signature. Between email, and faxing, texting, not many companies or people really need to get it there in the time frames the USPS has for delivery of first class mail. But in the end, yep...I see nearly all (except maintenance) being offered early out. AND all will be replaced with employees making less money, leaner benefits and possibly all part time. I keep saying all the time, there will be more early outs, and I am sure will start back with EAS employees....but I don't think they can keep affording to offer an incentive. Roseanne

5. Follow-up Hi Roseanne, Not "exactly" what I wanted to hear, but I sure do appreciate you taking the time to get back to me! Oh well, I'll just keep punching in, hoping and PRAYING! D

Q 6. - Hello, I am a Postal Clerk, currently on Workers Comp. I filed for Social Security Disability and was approved in June 2011, however I am not receiving Social Security Disability while receiving OWCP benefits. I am trying to find out whether it would be in my best interest to outright retire (I am 56 with 26 years of service and am under FERS) or to file for disability retirement. My only question (which SSA has not provided me with the answer to ) is, can I take my regular retirement and still receive Social Security Disability? I can't seem to find this answer to this anywhere! Thank you for your time/help. Tried to keep this short, hope this enough information. (I am scheduled for a "retirement counseling session" in a few days). DS

A 6. -Hi DS, Typically the way this works, the Postal Service pays OWCP to PAY you, while on the "Periodic Rolls". If/When you get approved for Social Security Disability Ins., your OWCP (Compensation) check should be reduced by that same amount of the SS check....but it takes SO MUCH T...I...M...E!! The same goes for FERS (OPM)approval. If you are approved for FERS Disability Retirement, the first year is calculated at 60% of your h-3 Av. Salary, divided by 12 (monthly) for the first year. HOWEVER (if approved for SSDI), 100% of the SSDI check is reduced from the FERS amount monthly annuity. The second year (& until age 62) it's recalculated at 40% of your h-3, and then 60% of the SSDI check is reduced from the FERS annuity. When you turn 62, it's recalculated again, and for you it would be calculated at 32% of your high 3 average salary (monthly). If you want my opinion...this is my opinion, get off OWCP and go on strictly with a FERS Disability Retirement and SSDI. Too many people I have dealt with are owing 20,30 even 40 thousand dollars, over the course of time to different federal agencies, because of all these agencies not coming together with your case for about 12-18 months. You have the post office; OWCP; Social Security Administration and OPM. That is 4 Federal Agencies all with some financial interest trying to intercede in YOUR retirement. It's a nightmare of sorts.

There of course is a reduction of income when you retire. While on OWCP, you are being paid, just like you are going to work everyday. Retirement is different, it is less money and the biggest portion of your retirement as a FERS employee is your TSP. Most folks on OWCP have little or no money in TSP...and that is a huge problem. In either case, most FERS employees don't have the TSP account they should have in retirement, and then try to financially rely on the FERS annuity, which was never supposed to be but about 28% of their overall retirement money. Roseanne


The above question leads me to a phone discussion I had with a brother and sister last month, where the father (postal employee) had very recently passed away. They were both scouring the internet to find someone to talk with, about how to obtain their father's life insurance (for his burial expenses), their mother's "spousal annuity" (she was in her 80's), as well as her health benefits. In our conversation, they told me they called OPM and were told "there is nothing there to be entitled to". Everyone else told them, "that had to be incorrect..he was a postal employee and they have retirement and benefits" . They found a couple of wills and even recall having discussions with their Dad, prior to his passing, about a precise dollar amount on a life insurance policy ($15,000), in which their mother was the beneficiary of; & discussed with father, (and also contained in the will(s)), that their mother would be "taken care of" since he was a CSRS employee and she would get 55% of his annuity. After a couple of preliminary questions...I had to tell them that OPM was RIGHT!! There was no spousal annuity & no FEHB Health Benefits for the postal employee's widow. There was NO Basic or any life insurance either for this postal employee! Are you intrigued yet?

This postal employee passed away from a heart the age of 88+. He was on the OWCP rolls for the last 40+ or so YEARS!!!! He went every year like clock work, to the doctor for his yearly validation that he was unable to carry mail, validating his OWCP claim. And so he remained on OWCP, until he passed away. In talking with brother & sister, they were ALL aware (not that they fully understood why or how) that their father was "earning" the same amount as every other carrier did, and had not worked in 40 years. What the family did understood was he did not work due to an on-the-job injury to his back. When the father passed away, again unsure of how he earned so much, but they were absolutely sure, with him earning what he did, their mom would be fine.

But they had no idea what he gave up by staying on the OWCP rolls aka Workers Comp, aka Periodic Rolls, all those years and NOT FULLY RETIRING! Yes, in the last 40 years, his income would have been reduced if he retired, but he would have had benefits. In this case here, OPM was right. There is NO life insurance for funeral expenses, no spousal annuity or spousal health benefits, because he passed away from a heart attack, and not from his OWCP back claim injury. All these years this employee thought that his wife would get his life insurance, a spousal annuity & federal health benefits....and she did NOT.


Till we speak again....Roseanne

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