Postal Retirement

Postal Retirement Q&A January 2012

Good Day Postal Employees, And a very Happy New Year!!!


I am going to title this column as “The Reality of the BROWN Christmas Package”. As many of you know I try to be fair and honest about what I write….tell it like it is…and many of you appreciate the perspective that I bring. You know, after all of these years, I still bleed blue..most you know that means postal blue, and I care very much about the organization and where it is going in the future. This year, I wanted to see how during our fiscal turmoil and the consistent reduction of employees, if our delivery standards have been affected; how we compare with our biggest competitor. This year I mailed one of the many Christmas packages I send each year, out BROWN. I wanted to see how well their on-line tracking systems works versus OUR tracking system for customers, and the time frame of delivery, bounced against the cost of mailing with BROWN.

On Dec 15th @ 6:55pm, I sent a Christmas package from THEIR store here, to an address in NJ, with a required signature at delivery. According to the tracking system, the package went efficiently from the origination point to collection center in Greensboro on Dec 16th; then to their general mailing depot in Secaucus, NJ @ 1:20 am Dec 17th. On Dec 19th at 12:05 am it arrived at Newark, and at 12:06 am it left out for delivery (that was remarkable to me.. ( 1 minute!!) if the times were correct!). Understand this is all referencing their on-line information with the tracking number.

At 9:40 am on Dec 19th it was on the truck to be delivered, and according the web site tracking it showed an EXCEPTION “The apartment number is missing or is incorrect. WE ARE attempting to obtain this information.” On Dec 19th at 9:44 am as I was on the computer, an email message was sent to me (an option offered while in store paying for package), about a delivery issue. I immediately (Dec 19th @10:05 am) called our aunt, letting her know of the “attempted” delivery and the necessity for an apartment number. She called the 1-800 number, to add an apartment number that they stated was missing. They told her they would add the “A” (for the apartment number) and the package would be re delivered today (12-19) or the next morning (12-20).

NOW HERE IS WHERE IT BEGINS – On Dec 19 (that evening) I see where again, I am sent another message, that a “post card has been sent to obtain the missing apartment number”. This message was sent at 10:10 pm on Dec 19th. I am not understanding the message, as our aunt in the morning had already initiated the “correction of the missing apartment number” and had a confirmation of delivery on the 19th or definitely December 20th the next day. While on the website @ 11:00 pm, I initiate another email about the package EXCEPTION, and added, in the comments section “Apartment A – please redeliver. Naturally with all of the phone calls and email and this “minute by minute information” on their website I thought this should be easy enough.



It was not delivered on Dec 19th. Before 9 am on Dec 20th I spoke to a customer service representative (as did our aunt), calling the 1800 number. Both of us were ASSURED, by two different customer service representatives, that it was on the truck, and that it had the apartment number on the package. We actually felt good. Tracking the package on the website, I saw that nothing had been input since the 10:10 pm comment about a post card. So I call back wondering why I am being told, as is my aunt being told, that it is on the truck but nothing is being updated in this minute by minute tracking system. So after being put on hold a few times, listening to music, again, I am confidently assured by their representative, that even though there is no updated information on the website, it will be delivered today. My aunt called (same 1800 number, different representative of course) and was told that the trucks are pretty FULL, but that the it should be today (Dec 20th) or tomorrow.

It did not come on Dec 20 th. When I called the 1800 number, they were absolutely incredibly clueless. When I questioned the rep, not only was he NOT helpful…. just no damn logic whatsoever!! I explain the situation in explicit detail, detail enough for someone to know that I know way more about mailing issues than the average bear. I clearly explain to the rep that his responses were such total bullshit, that even he has to hear just how incredibly illogical he sounded. He then slams me again, when I post my question ” Sir, this information not only was called in, but I document this in an email back to you!!”, with his response being, “well, no one reads it!! Wow, so this is why the apartment number never got on the package, on Dec 19 or today Dec 20th. He also informs me that I should go back to that same page blah blah and send another email (with my tracking number) to register a complaint (since I am so dissatisfied as he annoyingly tells me). Of course me….I explode and say, THE SAME EMAIL YOU JUST TOLD ME THEY DON’T READ!! And his reply “yes ma’am”. I am now reeling….and on top of all that, “you have totally insulted my intelligence”…(but maybe not, because I did mail the package with them!!)

On Dec 21st I am watching the morning news and on several major news networks, it is being reported and visually showing “CERTAIN” mailers being “caught” on film throwing packages, the story ran all day, I was praying that we had no bad publicity that day. As I am watching this news, my aunt called BROWN again, and was told the package was on the truck for delivery today, Dec 21st. As evening rolls around it’s now 8:10 pm on Dec 21st, and I call the 1800 number again. I spoke with the nicest man I had spoken to yet, because by 8:10 pm on 12/21 the package is still NOT THERE. He assured me finally that it was going to be delivered tonight. Yes, he knew that it was after 7 pm, and their drivers were to be done with deliveries and off the streets by 7pm, but with the Christmas season, many of the drivers will stay out and finish as they are a very dedicated team.

GUESS WHAT, NO DELIVERY on Dec 21 after the 8pm phone call. On Dec 22, (of course no delivery from the very dedicate team; after great speech from nicest rep last night) I call again. This time I get another customer representative on the phone, who was pleasant, stupid, but pleasant and after I take about all I can with his nonsensical answers, I go ziggety-boo on him…(a term the family uses when I pretty much all lose sense, language, sarcasm, all that) (but in a professional way), and actually get him to have someone in NJ call me in NC. I get a call from perhaps a supervisor named let’s just say Laverne. She was very professional and knowledgeable. I was told that all of my phone calls to the 800 number meant NOTHING. It seems that the “representatives that answer the phones at the 800 number don’t even work for BROWN. So all those times when I was put on hold and they came back giving me and our aunt for that matter, this sincere assurance that the package was on the truck for delivery, was all made up. None of that was true. Perhaps the statement made about those individuals manning the 1800 phone line, “they don’t even work for BROWN” could have meant something similar to hiring “Christmas casuals”, I am not sure. The tracking information on-line, seems to be far more superior to calling the 800 number.

Bottom line..the package was sent out once, on Dec 19th and never again was it placed on a truck for delivery, until “Laverne” had someone from their office to take it in a smaller brown truck. It was sitting on a shelf in the package center. All those times I was told it was on the truck, it was not. The 800 number that is called did not and does not report anything to BROWN, they just take calls and pacify complaints. It goes no where…no where…they update nothing! You have to ask for a supervisor (like I did) over and over just to get to an actual BROWN employee. You have to be a general pain in the rear. To be honest, it was not until I told them that I was writing about this mailing experience in my January column, before I even got a real BROWN employee. I guess they felt if my claim to writing a monthly column that people read in the mailing industry had any legitimacy whatsoever, they should at least “deal” with me.

In the early afternoon of Dec 22nd, after “Laverne” was off, she called to let me know that the package was delivered. She just had seen my aunt’s signature pop up. And it was for real this time. I appreciated her honesty about how that system works. It was great to know for the information. This was a test, and let me say this over and over again, I experienced NONE OF THAT WHEN I MAILED USPS this Christmas, or any time of the year. We are the best mailing organization out there. My level of dissatisfaction when I found out that the rep’s answering my phone calls were not even BROWN employees made me feel less comfortable about mailing with them. It made me understand, maybe for the first time, the need for us to remain a federal institution.

Imagine if my elderly aunt did not have someone that knew the mailing industry. Imagine how difficult this issue is for a senior citizens and how difficult it is when you are unable to just go to the post office to pick up a package. That could very well be our future, for all of us when or if smaller post offices close around the country…no post office is in your neighborhood or rural town.

The level of commitment we show as federal employees to the sanctity of the mail, regardless if it is a first class letter or a Christmas package with blood pressure machine, is beyond all others out there. We are THE federal institution that has the highest approval with the American Public, of any other federal agency, WE HAVE THEIR CONFIDENCE, let’s keep it that way. My mailing with ‘the other” was a test, they failed, USPS passed with flying red/white/blue colors. WE ARE WORTH FIGHTING FOR.

Till we speak next time……..Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A February 2012

Good Day Postal Employees

Last month’s column got the most blogging I have seen since I have been writing these columns. This can be a tough crowd!! I really thought that most would appreciate the (true) story and the BIG shout out for our AMAZING carriers and what they do everyday…guess not !! I got one email that told me to “stick to writing what I KNOW about, retirement, OWCP and HR “stuff”…that’s what we really want to hear”. OK OK…So here goes….NO – there is STILL NO WORD ON AN EARLY OUT, AND SO NO WORD ON AN INCENTIVE EITHER…so those of you who read the column just to find that out….OK yer done, the rest can read some very interesting Q and A’s that I have answered in the past couple of months.

Q 1. Hello Roseanne, I have 35 years with the Post Office as a rural carrier under Civil Service. With sick leave, 36 plus. Why is it that rural carriers seem never to be included in early outs? I work myself to death trying to get everything done on time everyday with no more than 4 or 5 minutes to myself all day. NO BREAKS. Seems that the postal service likes to sweeten the pot for management without considering us at all. I have worked harder than most management and deserve a chance at an incentive to get out before I drop over dead before I retire. As a matter of fact, I spent the last 2 days in the hospital with what looks like a heart condition, and I will blame it on stress from my Postmaster. I read recently that the next out might be due to the payment the PO was supposed to pay. And again, I have heard that it will go to management first, if not all of it. Part of that money belonged to me also and I deserve a chance at the same out they will offer management. Your thoughts!!!

A 1. If you are asking my thoughts…under rules and regulations of OPM (governing body of federal agencies, as it relates to personnel issues), very specific criteria must be validated and bench marks met in order to initiate a request for an “early out”; as well as one, that would include a monetary incentive within the “early out package”. That being said, you as well as many others have strongly agreed with the philosophy that the agency is over loaded with EAS employees’ middle management, upper management etc. It would seem that if that philosophy were followed by OPM, then yep, EAS would be getting an offer and perhaps a monetary incentive. So perhaps after all that preaching about the post office being TOP heavy, as they say, they will be the first to go…again using that philosophy. The financial solvency of the post office will dictate how many they NEED to “retire” in order to come to a payroll that they can afford, with all the benefits that meet with the current revenue. I suspect with 35 yrs or more, you no doubt are eligible to retire or really really close. I understand everyone is waiting to hear about an early out, and I think Feb-Mar for an announcement. Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne, I am a CSRS postal employee with 35 years service. My question is if I retire Dec. 1 2012 with an earned annual leave balance of 630 hours will I receive that amount in a check? The balance represents the 440 I have accrued up to Jan. 1 2011 and the 190 or so I have earned in 2012. Also can you direct me to the documentation that led you to your answer? I would really appreciate it. Thank you for your time. T

A 2. Hi T, Yes, you are paid for ALL earned annual leave, providing you retire on Dec 1, because if you go over the year, and retire in Jan, you WILL lose any amount over the carry over. So the question below is answered with the first sentence. The second sentence, The balance represents the 440 I have accrued up to Jan. 1 2011 and the 190 or so I have earned in 2012;
is not quite making sense to me. If you retire in Dec, how did you expect to earn the 190 hours in 2012? That may be where your confusion is, and where the confusion is when you are asking someone else. Before I give you where the information is, I need to be sure you know what you are asking and that both sentence’s in your question are somewhat contradictory. Roseanne

Q 2 (a). Hi, I hope this clears my question up. In January of this year I have the maximum carryover of 440 hours. I am going to work until December 1 2012. On December 1 2012 I would have worked 24 pay periods and I would have earned 192 hours of annual at 8 hours per pay period. That would give me a total of 632 of annual leave. I was under the impression that all I would be paid for is the 440. I believe it is called a terminal leave check? Would my total be for the 632 hours or only the 440 hours. I did get one other answer and that was I would be paid for the 632 if it was under a VERA . Sorry for the confusion? Thanks again T

A 2 (a) Hi T, Didn’t want to leave you hanging…been a bit busy with retirement here in NC and SC. I wanted to give you a quote so that you have valid info. I know that I me, Roseanne, retired with over the maximum, but I did retire under the VERA early out in July 2009, AND did get paid for ALL my earned annual leave…..BUT I was EAS. So that is what I am checking to make sure you have the absolute correct information. It would be a bit helpful if you can tell me what is your position.

Response: I am in the clerk craft.

Final Follow Up :Hi T, Handbook EL501 CSRS Retirement Guide (Update thru July 2006)

Section 560 Civil Service Retirement Program- section” 292 Annual Leave Balance – Terminal Leave Payment

It is to your advantage to retire with an annual leave balance since the payment for terminal leave provides you with funds while you wait for your first annuity check. Note that:

a. If you are a bargaining unit employee separating other than under the Voluntary Early Out Retirement Authority (VERA), you may receive a lump sum payment for accumulated annual leave carried over from the previous year; accrued annual leave for the year in which you separate, up to the carryover maximum for your bargaining unit; any unused donated leave; and, if you are a full time or part time regular employee, holidays that fall within your terminal leave period.

b. Any part of your unused annual leave earned during the leave year of your separation that is in excess of the maximum carryover amount is granted to you prior to separation rather than paid out in the form of a lump sum payment. Any of the unused annual leave that you cannot take within the leave year is forfeited.

c. If you are a non-bargaining unit employee or a bargaining unit employee separating under VERA, you may receive a lump sum leave payment for accumulated annual leave carried over from the previous year; accrued annual leave for the year you separate, including the amounts over the carry-over maximum; any unused donated leave; and if you are a full time or part time regular employee, holidays that fall within your terminal leave period.”

I hope this quote from the EL501 will help you understand how annual leave works from the craft perspective and the difference in paying “earned” annual leave IF you retire under a VERA early out. Roseanne

Q 3. I have read most of your post and I am really glad someone takes time to answer Questions that is really hard to obtain while working in the Post Office. I have Questions and hoped you have answers. CAN YOU GET FIRED FOR AWOL WHILE ON OWCP, if you don’t provide a medical report to your supervisor (management)? OWCP does pay me and does not require me to send a report or anything, I know i will get paid if I’m not better, but management is going to put me on AWOL for this? My Doctor made a report and she said my condition is permanent and have no reason to think that I will get better so I applied for Disability retirement and social security. Do i have to even think about this or just let management do their way and let me get fired while on OWCP. I know OWCP will not stop due to AWOL. I will had been on OWCP for almost 1 year and just recently filed disability retirement due to I don’t want to lose that time frame that i can apply. I don’t understand why I would get fired for AWOL for not providing the management a letter. I have already suffered enough while working in the post office now they want me to give them a report every month for my permanent disability? it’s not that I don’t want to provide anything for them, it’s a hassle talking to management that does not provide answers or any support. actually it’s managements fault why I have all of these back problems, not to mention my shoulder problem that is currently not on my claim i tried to add it but no luck yet OWCP wants a report of history the whole nine yards but my doctor is refusing to see me for it due to it’s not an approved claim. i feel like it does not matter cause i am getting paid already it would be nice to get some treatment. and to just see this letter makes me want to jump out of my skin and, I am currently being seen for emotional issues due to this disaster. I additionally have other health issues that are affected by this, because of management’s abusive behavior. I know you don’t have to answer this and i know i took your time but i just want to thank you for being here and hopefully you can teach us more about your knowledge. sincerely, M.

A 3.
can you get fired for AWOL while on OWCP if you don’t provide a medical report to your supervisor (management)? Yes. You must provide what they ask…them (the post office) and OWCP..(who do you think is REALLY paying you??? (FYI – the post office)).

OWCP does pay me and does not require me to send a report or anything, and I know i will get paid if I’m not better, but management is going to put me on AWOL for this? Maybe OWCP has not required it YET, but if the post office is asking, so will OWCP eventually in order for you to remain on the OWCP rolls.

My Doctor made a report and said my condition is permanent and have no reason to think that I will get better. So I applied for Disability retirement and social security. Do i have to even think about this or just let management do their way and let me get fired while on OWCP. I know OWCP will not stop due to AWOL. Something does not sound right…let me continue to read because I find as I take apart each question, some answers are revealed by something you say.

I will had been on OWCP for almost 1year and just recently filed disability retirement due to I don’t want to lose that time frame that i can apply. You should be OK since it is an approved claim, and filing for disability retirement while you are on OWCP is typical and should be the natural course of events.

I don’t understand why I would get fired for AWOL for not providing the management a letter. They have the right to ask, and just so you don’t rock your BOAT, you need to comply.

I have already suffered enough while working in the post office now they want me to give them a report every month for my permanent disability? it’s not that I don’t want to provide anything for them, it’s a hassle talking to management that does not provide answers or any support. actually it’s managements fault why I have back problems “not to mention my shoulder problem that is currently not on my claim i tried to add it but no luck yet OWCP wants a report of history the whole nine yards but my doctor is refusing to see me for it due to it’s not an approved claim”

Yep that’s what I thought! Part of why they are asking IS because the shoulder problem is not on an approved claim. You gotta know they are going to make you jump through every hoop possible. Why would you think they would pay for your shoulder issue when it’s not an approved claim. You say your doctor is REFUSING to see you because it’s not an approved claim. That sounds like BS to me.

i feel like it does not matter cause i am getting paid already it would be nice to get some treatment. Yea until the money stops and you will wish you would have followed through. Sure maybe you are right, but why would you even take the chance of not following through if your claim is legitmate.

…and to just see this letter makes me want to jump out of my skin, and currently being treated for emotional issues due to this disaster. I additionally have other health issues that are being affected by this due to management abusive behavior. I know you don’t have to answer this and i know i took your time but i just want to thank you for being here and hopefully you can teach us more about your knowledge.

First, your goal should be to continue to have an income. By not complying you are in jeopardy of losing the money. Sure, they will eventually reinstate the check but WHY ? WHY screw around with messing with them…really why? You know this is a government organization, you are costing the post office 2 times the cost of an employee, one, they are paying OWCP for YOU, and 2 they are paying someone else to do your job…..SO…does that answer your question… they will do anything to get you off the rolls. The best thing you did was to apply for disability retirement…just do what they ask until you are approved. This is my advice, I am a straight shooter, I see it from all the perspectives. It does not mean I agree, it means I know what they are going to do and why. Roseanne

Till we speak again…….Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A March 2012

Good Day Postal Employees:

Yea, I have been reading ALL about it!! I have deep concern for FERS employees, (who have a 3 tiered retirement program) and the potential of losing the Special Supplement paid by OPM to the FERS retiree, supplementing the Social Security component until age 62, when they are first able to collect Social Security.

When you take a good look at the FERS retirement program, it is based on the employee’s MRA (Minimum Retirement Age). Which by the way is NOT THE SAME FOR EVERYONE. Your MRA is dependent on the year you were born!!
Even so, FERS was designed to be a 3 tiered program, and all of the tiers are NOT OF EQUAL WEIGHT. Meaning that each component, (FERS, Social Security and TSP) is not one third each. Not even close!! If these massive changes take place in the retirement system, and the supplement is discontinued, then it pretty much forces ALL FEDERAL EMPLOYEES,(FERS) to either live on 2 portions of their retirement until age 62; or not retire at all until age 62. In all the FERS retirements that I have seen, so many have very little, TOO LITTLE, in the TSP fund to carve out a decent monthly annuity that will last them for life. If you are NO WHERE NEAR retirement, you need to review how much you are putting in TSP and ensure that you are contributing at a level that requires the Agency is matching those funds. I also have concerns about changing from the high 3 to a high 5. If you go back to my column July 2011, you will see how a high 3 versus a high 5 looks like.

Oh… the prospect of an early out….on hold! From what I am reading, they are dragging this out and right now, I still feel there will be an early out…but I will still hold on to what I have been saying….I don’t see BIG MONEY flowing for you to leave.

Q. 1 – Hi Roseanne, I have been trying to get an answer to my exempt status since July 2009. No one will give me a written answer with specific references. In 2003 I took an EAS 16 Exempt Postmaster position in a first class office. I supervised one rural carrier and two PTF Clerks. The clerk hours totaled over 40 hrs per week. When my clerk retired (over 2 years ago) and again recently, I was denied a replacement for that position. This has pretty much left me working most Saturdays for at least 3-4 hours with my remaining PTF clerk so that we can get the mail to my rural carrier in time for his scheduled departure time. Also since that time, the relocation of my largest mailer resulted in the office being downgraded from first class and F4 hours were reduced to reflect the downgrade. I was told I am still FLSA exempt as long as the office level (16) stays the same. I now only supervise one Rural Carrier and One PTF clerk who gets around 30 hrs a week. My question has been: Are these two employees (One rural carrier and one PTF clerk) the equivalent of two full time employees as needed to remain exempt or should I now be classified as a Non Exempt employee? I have asked my MPOO, the District HR, Area HR, and even emailed VP. I have received a couple responses over the last 32 months but mostly just get shuffled around and put off. Can you please enlighten me as to what determines an Exempt from a non exempt and where I can find the reference? Thanks for any help you can give, G

A 1. – Hi G, You should call the MPOO and ask for the SWCS for your office for the last 5 years. The SWCS is the Service Workload Credit. Every 2 years offices are supposed to go through this process to see if they should be upgraded or downgraded. In either case, the numbers can dictate if you go into the “Zone of Tolerance”, for an upgrade or downgrade of the office. Now an office can be upgraded or downgraded immediately if the numbers put that office over the numbers or under the numbers for the next level. Are you familiar with these terms? Another way to do this, is to review reports or ask to see the Form 150 for your office. That is where these actions take place. Once you see this form then you might have all the information you need to get some answers. Roseanne

Q 1. (a) – First thanks for your reply. This has been ongoing for so long I have trouble keeping on target and probably give more info than needed, thus clouding the question. What I am trying to find out is whether or not I should be classified as EXEMPT or NON EXEMPT. My employee complement has been decreased from one (Full Time) Rural Carrier and two PTF Clerks (splitting 40+ weekly hours) to One(Full Time ) Rural Carrier and one PTF Clerk (approx 30 hrs weekly). The office downgrade from first class to second is correct as revenue units are down. Obviously not all level 16 postmasters are classified exempt as my neighbor office is a level 16 and is Non Exempt. Exempt & Non Exempt is determined by the number of employees one supervises (2 or more FTEE), right? How does my PTF clerk qualify as a Full time equivalent position? Thanks, G.

A 1 (a) – Based on the information I re-reviewed you probably should be non-exempt, but my answer is determined by what you have told me. I did understand that when I answered the question. The SWCS can also determine many things in an Associate Office, including an exempt or non-exempt status for the Postmaster. If you don’t have 80+hours between 2 or more employees then you should be non exempt so you are able to be paid OT. Lord knows you got to be working 60-70 hrs a week yourself. Have you spoken to NAPUS or someone from the League of Postmasters? If you have not, I would suggest that you do. Not that they can change what is going on, but it could be that a new SWCS should be done on your office and your NAPUS or League President may be able to intercede on your behalf. Roseanne

Q 2. – I am 55 and retiring in June. I am Civil Service. My question is what should I do with my TSP. Should I keep my money there or take it out and put in an IRA. Do I pay any penalties or taxes. Do I have a window of opportunity to do this. Thanks.

A 2. – Hi T, You have a variety of things that you can do with your TSP money. This question has so many options that you can take concerning your TSP account. I would suggest that you call 1-877-968-3778 (TSP Board) and request the TSPBK 02 (they may tell you to go to on line and read it..) but in that booklet it will show you all the options you have with your TSP account. As far as taking it out and putting it in an IRA or another 401k (yes you can…you have a certain time limit that you can roll the money over, if you wait too long you will be HEAVILY taxed). And yes you pay taxes on the amount you take, unless you roll it over. Remember, that all of the money that has been deducted from your paycheck going into TSP was NOT TAXED. TSP has options such as single life level annuity, increasing annuities, and even monthly payments, as well as partial withdrawals. It all depends on IF you need this to supplement your retirement or its just a savings account of sorts. Roseanne

Q 3. – I will turn 55 in June 2013. I worked as a civilian for the Navy from 1972-1976 and I resigned due to my wife’s health condition. Additionally, I took all my retirement money out of the CSRS system, to help with the high medical expenses we incurred. In June of 1984 I was hired by the Post Office and was told I was listed as a CSRS/Offset . My question is am I eligible to retire in 2013 if I don’t have 30 years of contributing pension. Thank you, P.

A 3. – Hi P, The easiest way for you to determine if your civilian Navy time is being credited to your retirement (or not), is to request an annuity estimate from HRSSC. You should additionally request the RTR Retirement Correction Report…it’s not about there being a correction necessarily, that is just the name of the report. You can see from both pieces of information IF your prior Navy is being calculated, and what your retirement eligibility date is, or when you can retire. Once you determine if this time is credited to you, you can contact HRSSC to see if you are eligible to “buy the Navy time back”. Call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273, I am sure they would be very happy to assist you in this process. Roseanne

Q 4. – Hi Roseanne, I have written you twice in the past and your answers were right on the money. I didn’t particularly care for your answers, but I am writing to tell you that you were right, on every account. You probably knew that when I wrote you back, telling you that you were an asshole, since I was very displeased with your responses to me. Well, I took your advise, I have cleaned up my act and I am going to work everyday. I am on a Last Chance Agreement, and I want to thank you for your stern lecture, and your expert advise. When I asked you “if it’s MY SICK LEAVE”, why am I being disciplined?” your response was very harsh and I said some things I want to apologize for. You saved my job, just by your, as I called it “your management bullshit advice”. It finally clicked, all I can say is I am sorry and Thank You. An Avid Reader, Yours Truly, ..L

A 4. – L, Sometimes we all need a reality check. I was just helping you reset your gears, and I am proud of you. Your sick leave is a benefit, don’t nickel and dime it, it is too valuable. Roseanne

Till we speak again……… Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A April 2012

Good Day Postal Employees:

Well it’s April 2st and no solid early out offers yet… but it is only Monday as the saga continues of WHEN this early out is going to be offered.

I have been informed by many of you across the country that you have been told that the announcement was going to be 2 weeks ago, some have said it was coming last week. Some have been taken into offices and told it’s coming Friday. The information out there right now is still wide spread rumors. There have even been employees told that the early out would force employees to be gone by May 31st, and yet still no confirmation for the VERA. There is some interesting information that was initiated in February, which leads me to believe that there is going to be an early out or the potential for one because… OPM has gotten their ducks in a row… please see below.

“Dated February 2012, OPM had announced that they are going to require payment from the federal agencies to complete each early out retirement. For FY2012 (retroactively to Oct, 1, 2011), P.L. 112-74 requires agencies to REMIT to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for deposit into CSRDF, an amount equal to the FY2011 average unit cost for processing annuity cases ($107.62) if an employee retires under the following conditions:

1). A CSRS or FERS Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA), including voluntary early retirements authorized under 5 U.S.C. 9902 ..or
2). any other CSRS or FERS provision and receives a Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP), or
3). any other form of monetary separation incentive (i.e. any form of buyout).”

With this new remittance requirement for early out processing, any agency trying to reduce staffing by a mere 10,000 employees under VERA with or without a VSIP, could be a very, very expensive reduction in force. By doing ballpark math, for just 10,000 (of the 30,000 the postal service is trying to reduce), early out employees, would cost the postal service a processing fee of around…$ 1,000,000.00….I’m just saying !!!

Q 1. – Hello Roseanne, I am 70 years old and I am planning to retire by the end of June 2012. I will have 28 years and 9 months service with the Postal Service. I am also retired military (USAF). I began to collect my social security at the full retirement age. I have nearly $100,000 in the TSP funds. When I began to work for the Postal Service I was on CSRS. Around 1997/1998 I switched to FERS. I wanted to increase my contributions to social security to bring it up to the 30 years paid. I was informed that my CSRS is now frozen and that when I retire my retirement pay would be calculated under both retirement systems (FERS/CSRS). I have nearly 2,000 hours of sick leave and as of this date I have earned 443 hours of annual leave.

My question is as follows: How exactly is my retirement pay calculated? Will the 50% of my FERS sick leave be included and how is my CSRS sick leave calculated? Being that I fall under both retirement plans, what retirement dates can be more beneficial for me? Thank you for kind service and response. Sincerely, J

A 1. – Hi J. Before I can address any questions, I would need to know what your retirement code is. Look on your pay stub and next to the retirement, the code is going to be either, 1,8,5 or A. Let me know that, and I can then begin to address your question. Roseanne

Q 1- (a) Hello Roseanne, Thank you very much for your prompt reply! The number right next to retirement on my pay stub is 1. Thanks again.

A 1 – (a) Based on your response of “1” being your retirement code, which is CSRS. You say you switched to FERS that retirement code is “8”; the other code is “5”, which stands for CSRS/offset; and code “A” which is FERS w/frozen CSRS. I would have to say that the information you got seems not to line up with what your paycheck stub says your retirement system is. So there ya go, something is quite wrong. Before you do anything on calculations that has to be settled. And it’s not settled with me. Your stub says you are plain…CSRS. So none of the FERS issues are relative. You got to get this straight first. Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne, just waiting for the vera/early out that I have heard about since July of 2011 LOL. Anyways my question: I refer back to your article of Sept 2011. I am trying to figure out the cost difference between BCBS basic (self) versus Medicare part B,C,D… I realize that congress might make this point mute if they change our health plan like they want, but its good to cover all the bases. Keep those articles coming, they are a lifeline.

A 2. – I just found your email this morning when going thru my spam mail…have no idea why it landed there…Anyway to answer your question. Basic BCBS (code 111) – 2012 monthly premium – $121.88 for an annuitant..AND..Standard BCBS (code 104) – 2012 monthly premium – $ 185.42 for an annuitant.

Once you reach 65, Medicare Part A – is free…pretty much to everyone. And once you reach 65 (if not working..retired), Medicare A becomes your PRIMARY HOSPITAL INSURANCE….THE HOSPITAL ONLY!! – you have to have more than this for your doctor appointments, tests, lab work, prescriptions, etc.

If you think that when you reach 65 that medical insurance is cheaper because you have medicare, that is just absolutely wrong – wrong – wrong.

Keeping that in mind, you will be charged for Medicare Part B, based on your income…I would project for you, somewhere around $150.00 per month. If you decide to drop your BCBS (and for the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would)…this Medicare Part B, pays only 80% of the bill, and you have to pay 20% of what Medicare does not pay.

So, you could purchase Medicare Part C that HELPS pay for the 20% that Medicare Part B did not pay……and then, you would still need coverage for prescriptions, and that would be Medicare Part D Silver. Some states offer a combination of Medicare Part C & D. Why would anyone give up federal health benefits to pay MORE than they would if they just opted out of Medicare Part B, and not take Medicare C or D. I hope this has helped explain maybe in a little more detail. Roseanne

Q 2 (a). – That’s okay Roseanne, I figure you would have come across the email at some point…I just read that if you don’t sign up for med B at the time you apply for social security benefits, they increase your premiums 10% for every year you wait….I plan to start my social when I turn 62, so if the PO and congress decide they are going to change our health care plans, which I hope they don’t, they do it early enough for you to make better long range plans. That 10% increase in premiums seems kind of punitive to me….almost like they try to intimidate you to go the med B way. It does seem that staying with BCBS is the better way to go when you compare it to the cost of med B, medi-gap and prescription coverage even though BCBS has some holes as far as what pct of your total bill they cover. Thanks again for your help and insight, I can’t say it enough…it’s good to have you out there watching our backs.

A 2 (b). – Just the fact that you “GET IT”..about the medicare versus FEHB Health Benefits is worth it to me. And you are very welcome . Roseanne

Q 3. – Hi Roseanne: I read your article and have a few questions: I’m 55 and considering retiring by the end of this year, and my question to you is, when I retire, how can my wife keep my medical plan if I were to pass? Is there a way I can do part of the survivor benefit so she can be covered under my medical plan if I were to become deceased? Thank you for your assistance.

A 3.- Hi, There are different options in taking the spousal annuity, and an even bigger difference depending on what retirement system you are in…CSRS or FERS. In both of the retirement systems, your monthly calculated annuity is reduced by 10% for the spousal annuity (which is on the NARCES annuity estimate). Depending on which of the two retirement systems you are in, has a different spousal choices. The biggest reason to provide the spouse with the spousal annuity IS FOR THE SPOUSE TO BE ELIGIBLE for federal health benefits, should you pre-decease your spouse. So yes there is a way to do that when you retire. Roseanne

Q 4. – Roseanne, I am a postal employee under the FERS system. Do I have to be offered a VERA to be eligible for the special supplement or will I receive it with a regular retirement. I have reached my MRA and am seriously considering moving on. Thank you for all your help.

A 4. – Hi, If you REALLY ARE a FERS, because some think they are and are not, but if you are, then this applies:
You are eligible for your early out when you reach your MRA and have 30 years (or more); OR you reach age 60 with 20 years (or more); OR are age 62 with 5 years (or more), OR they offer an early out and your are at your MRA and have the years, yes you get the supplement.

They offer an early and you are NOT at your MRA and have the years, NO you don’t receive the supplement until you reach your MRA. Those above are the conditions in which you can get the special supplement. I hope this has helped clear this up for you. Roseanne

Till we speak again….Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A May 2012

Good Day Postal Employees

……and still a-waiting!!!…..of course I mean for the early out. After all the reading, and watching CSPAN, and in touch with reliable contacts, I am doing everything I can to provide you all with accurate information, but it’s still a waiting game. I will put myself out on a limb here and say when/if they approve an early out, I can see them offering a cash incentive….I don’t see them adding years (to an employees’ overall years of service). I simply don’t see them changing the structure of federal regulations of VERA’s with or without incentives. VERA / Early Out retirements have very specific rules and regulations that are requirements to being eligible for an offered early out VERA. Monetary incentives are included in the federal regulations for implementation in an early out. To approve additional years, would at MINIMUM, require them to change computer programs to incorporate “years” into service time, which is simply not there….I don’t see it. I would think it would require manual calculations (to try to add “years” to service time that does not exist) on a NARCES retirement estimate. Those estimates are used for all federal employees, not just postal, so I don’t see OPM changing how the annuity estimates are run for just one agency……HEY….settle down….it’s just my opinion, it could happen….I don’t think it will though.

Q 1. Hi Roseanne, This is Ms. D, and you helped me fill out my paperwork for disability retirement last August (I was on crutches from a hip surgery). I just got my approval letter and should get my first check in May. The questions I have are1) when reading the big blue book (pg 259) it says that I am “subject to the 80% earnings limit”. Does that mean that I could work (nothing strenuous or demanding, just for spending money) and make up to 80% of what I made when I was carrying mail for the post office? When I was calculating it I got that I could work and make up to $40,000 a year. Is that right? What are your recommendations on this matter? And 2) I received a form about Unemployment Insurance, it says to take the form to the unemployment office if/when I file a claim. Does that mean that eligible for unemployment? Should I file for unemployment with this form or should I disregard it? Thank you so much for all your help and advice. Because of you this process was pretty painless.

A 1. Hi Ms D, Great hearing from you. I hope your feeling well. Yes, if you were NOT approved for Social Security disability, there is a dollar limitation. You are able to work but the ACTUAL amount that you can earn is dependent on how much retirement annuity you get. Remember as a FERS annuitant, the second year the annuity is recalculated. Ah…40G,think about that. That sounds way too much to be a CAP, most folks don’t make that a year NOT being disabled. I think it’s more like 14G per year, but you need to check that out with OPM. Their number is 1-888-767-6738.
As far as unemployment, no….to be able to receive unemployment, you must be FULLY ABLE TO BE LOOKING FOR WORK, and going this route is an accident waiting to happen….don’t file for unemployment, it makes your retirement “messy”. So disregard that. One additional reason, is you are being paid “disability”money for those months (or any months) that you are asking for unemployment, again too messy. And you are very welcome. I hope you are healing and enjoying retirement. Look, you are young and you can work in a job, but make sure you maintain the dollar limitation that you can work. Take care, Roseanne

R 1. That makes perfect sense…again Roseanne to the rescue. Thank you so much, Ms. D.

Q 2. If you have LWOP on your record, do you have to make it up when you retire. I have about 400 hours on my record during my career, but never any more than 100 hours in any one year, thank you. ML

A. 2, In order for LWOP without pay to have a “negative” effect, you must have MORE than 6 months of LWOP in a calendar year. It appears that is not the case with you, so you are OK. Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, When my husband turns 65 and is eligible for Medicare Part A, and we keep our Federal Health benefit plan (BCBS), is Medicare primary and then BCBS picks up what they (medicare) does not cover? Thanks, M

A 3. Hi M, When turning 65, as far as the coverage with Medicare Part A, it becomes the PRIMARY hospital coverage. Meaning there would be nothing you are responsible for the hospital. I suspect if they were any additional charges (and they say medicare A pays ALL the hospital charges) BCBS would pick up any other charges that the hospital has billed perhaps such as therapy, tests that may not be covered by Medicare Part A. Your BCBS is your medical insurance for doctor visits, prescriptions etc….nothing changes except that Medicare pays the hospital bill…(again any charges that do not fall under what medicare pays, BCBS will). Roseanne

Q 4. Roseanne, I have about 28 years of service (3-30-1984) and am under FERS. Sept. 2010 I broke my hip and hurt two vertebra in my back at work and was back short days from Jan. – May 2011 off again because of nonunion in my hip and pain that was not under control enough to work again until early fall 2011. I never was able to work more that 4 hours a day and on 3-20-2-12 I had surgery to remove the hardware that had been used to hold my hip together. From the time I woke up from this surgery the pain I had lived with for 19 months was gone it was like they took out a knife or razor blade from my outer thigh. I am now off and recovering slowly I just don’t seem to have any reserves, so I have little strength. I’m am 62 and hearing about a possible VER with monetary and maybe even extra service years.
My question to you is I won’t know for several months about my ability to return full-time or if disability retirement is what’s best for me. I was going to retire in Aug. 2013 so If a VERA is offered and I took it and then found disability retirement was the better choice would I still have a year to put in for disability retirement? Thank you for your good work here helping us with these important life questions. K

A 4. Hi K, For you, a disability retirement probably would be in your best interest. What I suggest you do, is to call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273 and ask for a early out printout and a disability retirement printout. That way you would see exactly the difference in the monthly annuities. The difference in the VERA retirement (is if they offered money) VS a disability retirement is considerably different. Once you get the printouts email and let me know what you think. Let me be clear….you MUST be proactive..don’t wait until you are out of sick leave or annual, because if you decide to go the disability route, it could take some time for OPM to approve the medical documentation you must provide. Additionally, as a FERS employee, you are required to file for social security disability as well. Roseanne

Q 5.Hi Roseanne, I am a USPS City Carrier close to retirement. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

1) On the lower right corner of the pay stub, it says ‘USPS Retirement’ with a dollar amount. Is this a lump sum payout to me upon retirement? 2) On pay stub, in the column next to ‘Retire 8’, what does the dollar amount mean, where does it go, and what is it for?
3) I am currently 63, and not collecting social security because I am still working full time. Is it better to delay collecting social security until full retirement age? I make $55,000-62,000 yearly. If I collect social security, would much of the benefit be taken away because of my income? 4) I’ve heard that people are waiting almost up to a year to receive their first retirement check. Is this true? Thank you for your time and consideration. P

A 5.Hi P,

1. That USPS retirement dollar amount is the amount of money YOU put into the retirement fund…those are YOUR contributions only. Should you quit, get fired etc., and you decide to take that money out, you could. No, that lump sum is NOT paid out upon retirement. Since you are a FERS employee, that amount is fairly small and there is a “matching contribution” paid by the post office (that you don’t see) to OPM.
2. That 8 is a retirement code, that code 8 means you are a FERS employee. That money is collected over the 26 pay periods and then on PP 2, all of that collected over the year money, is added to the bottom figure. That is why that figure only changes on PP 2. Where it goes is to OPM where it sits until retirement.
3. Yes, it it better to delay the Social Security UNTIL you retire. One of the reasons is to NOT GET USED TO GETTING THE SS check and then when you retire and see how much your FERS annuity is (remember that amount of money you are asking me about…that is where your annuity is funded. Now of course, that money will deplete quickly. This is why your annuity is based upon 1% of your high 3 average salary, and not how much you put in the fund. What you put in the fund has no real bearing on your annuity.
4.No that is not really true. You will wait for several months for a FULL retirement check, but you receive INTERIM checks (until the annuity is completed done…and that takes a bit of time and that time is dependent upon how “difficult” your retirement is) which are about 70% of the NET, not the gross, which is where the confusion is when folks say I only got half of what was on my annuity statement.

I hope this has helped clear up your issues. If you have any more questions, please let me know. Roseanne

Q. 6. Roseanne-I’m eligible for retirement on the 3rd of May. I have been Civil Service since I started December 4, 1976. I have received my retirement book to start the process, but the figures show that I had no contributions for five years, while I was a rural carrier sub. I have my Pay stubs from that time that shows contributions being made. When I talk to the people that are to help me, I have gotten conflicting stories. One tells me that FICA was taken out, but my Social Security statements show absolutely NO contributions. Where can I go, or talk to to find out a more realistic estimate of my annuity? Thanks in advance.

A 6. The easiest way is to find your pay stubs for that period of time (when you were a sub)…or go to your eOPF thru liteblue and go to your form 50’s from those “sub” years and go to the top and look to find where the retirement code..let me know what the code is. Roseanne

Till we speak again….Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A June 2012

Good Day Postal Employees:

Well, well, well VERA is in the house!! We have a few early outs, Postmasters (in specific office grades); some HQ employees; mail handlers and the every increasing talks for clerks…and so a reader writes me and asked “how do you know, what you know? Because everything you said about the early out VERA’s like “giving years” to add to either age or years of service, you said would not happen, why did you say that, and how did you know that”?

This is true I have repeatedly said to folks writing me and even had comments in the column that said, “I don’t see them giving years, but I do see an incentive”. Why, because of the entire retirement structure, that’s why…money is easy to do, incentives are just the Big Bucks that they would have paid in your benefits anyway if you stayed employed and they did not offer the early out…no huge financial loss for the PO. Look you all just got your Personal Statement of Benefits…doesn’t it look like you make a whole lot more than you do??? But the cost to the USPS is just that, because of how much they pay towards employees’ benefits. But to change or alter an entire federal retirement structure, just to accommodate the USPS…please give me a break, didn’t happen, won’t happen!

Q 1. Could you answer this question for me? I have 28.5 Years of service with the USPS as a city letter carrier. I am under the CSRS and if I retire right now what is my penalty? Also, do I have to pay clothing allowance back with anniversary date of 3-28. What happens to my S/L A/L thrift savings plan? I’m 58 yrs old and can’t take it anymore. Thanks!!! Sincerely, BURNT OUT

A 1. Hi Burnt Out..I too am a CSRS and I retired (under VERA 2009), I was 56, with 26.5 years. I suffered no reduction for age, since I was over 55, and was paid for 26.5 years of federal service. Your SL is calculated into your total years of service, your annual leave is paid (but only the earned annual, not the advanced). Your TSP is a separate entity and you will deal with them directly. Roseanne

R. Thanks Roseanne for your information. Really don’t know what to do next. Between a rock and and a hard place. The way the USPS is pushing, I’m hardly able to do it anymore. Its a shame!!! Is it that hard to say go if you want to go? I will not go for disability. Enough venting. Thanks again!!!! Burnt out

Q 2. Hi Roseanne, Thank you so much for your website!! I have a question I hope you can answer for me. I retired from the postal service on February 24, 2012. I have received interim payments. The amount I receive is about $300.00 less than my estimated retirement annuity provided by the post office. Will I be paid the difference? Also how much longer will it take OPM to finish my retirement paperwork?
Thank you,JM

A 2. Hi JM, The “interim” check is about 70-80% of what your NET check is going to be. Sometimes when looking at the annuity estimate and it says, for example, 1500 per month. After health benefits, life insurance, federal tax, (in some states state tax), are deducted, the net would be around 800-1000 per month. So using 1000.00 as the example, 70-80% of 1000 is 700-800 per month. Again this is just ONE example of what it would look like. It will take about 3 or 4 interim checks, and then you will get a settle up check after all the months are reviewed and you will be paid the amount that was shorted over the 3-4 month period of time. After that, you regular check begins to come and then you get a small blue pamphlet, that outlines your entire retirement. I hope this has helped clear up some of those issues. Roseanne

Q 3. Dear Roseanne, I know that my contributions to my CSRS are listed on the bottom right of my pay stub. How would I find out what the USPS contributions to my CSRS are? Thanks S

A 3. Hi S, they are IDENTICAL, to your contributions, you just never see them. Roseanne

Q 4.Do you know what an RTR report is?? It appears in my employee file and no one can seem to answer this question. Thank you L.

A. 4. Hi L, An RTR report is several things. First there are more than one RTR report(s). But most likely the one you are referring to is the Retirement Thrift & RIF Correction Report. That is typically in everyone’s file. It is a computer generated form that is used to determine precisely how much federal time you have. Although the title of this one report is “Retirement Thrift & RIF Correction Report” it does not necessarily mean that it was done to “correct” anything, it just happens to be the title of the report. There are several other RTR reports I have run in my prior job, but the one I mentioned is no doubt the one you are referring to. Roseanne

Q 5. I have been with the Postal Service since Sept. of 1983. I was a PMR with no benefits. Then in Sept. of 1988, I was made to resign as PMR and be re-instated as Postmaster of a level 11 office. In July of 2011 another route was DUO’d into my office. I then had to go through quite a bit to finally get my office raised to a level 13. I finally contacted NAPUS. I don’t know if they interceded but my office was raised to a level 13, effective in October of 2011. Now with the new Post-plan, my office is scheduled (according to the list online) to be reduced to 4 hours per day instead of 8 as it is now. The way I understand it, we Postmasters are supposed to be able to keep our same pay and benefits for 2 whole years, no matter how many hours they lower our office. After that, the way I understand it, there will be a RIF. Then it sounds to me like I will be out of a job. My options now appear to be to try to apply to a higher level office where there is a vacant Postmaster position, take the buy-out (tiny as it is) and early retirement (with a reduced pension), or sit tight until the RIF. I do not want to go to a higher level office as Postmaster. I would like to take the early retirement but it doesn’t seem like very much money to live on for the rest of my life. I am 56 years old. I will be 57 in October of this year. If I wait two years until the RIF takes effect, supposedly in June of 2014, I will just over 58 1/2 years old. Not old enough to start drawing from my TSP. It also sounds to me like the supplement for SS they pay you until age 62 is a reduced amount than you will actually receive from SS at age 62. I am also concerned that my USPS pension will mostly go to pay health insurance. I have many questions and do not know where to start. I found your site online and decided I would begin by asking you. Thank you very much for your time. D

A 5. Hi D, Everything that you said about the retirement is true. When an office is or you are reduced to a lower grade (not due your own 991 or attempt to be in another position) then yes, there is the 2 yr saved grade. With 24 years you will only draw 24% of your high 3 average salary. AND with 24 years you are looking at about $600-$650 per month as the special supplement. So I do understand your reluctance to retire with this early out. But on the bright side you do get to keep your health and life insurance, which is SO valuable and still work another job should you want to. As far as you not being old enough to draw your TSP, that’s BS. I was 57 when I retired and I drew my TSP. This 59 1/2 issue comes up all the time, but if you go to and read the information you will see you can draw it as long as you are retired. Roseanne

Q 6. Hi Roseanne, Just a quick question ,I received my Personal Statement of Benefits-2012 the other day. At the bottom of the page it says total creditable service is 35 years and 4 months. It then states for optional retirement under CSRS you will receive an annuity equal to approximately 66% of your average high -3 salary. My question is I thought for each year of CSRS service worked, is equal to 2% for each year worked minus sick leave, if so why is it only 66% for 35 years and 4 months and not 70% (2 x 35= 70) ? Thank You, B

Q 7. Hi Roseanne, My name is Joe and my question is if I have an outstanding loan at retirement how does that effect my pension? Do I keep making payments or do they take them out of my check? Does the loan have to be paid at once? I need to get a loan from my tsp and retirement is less than two years. Any help is appreciated. Thank You J.

A 7. Hi Joe, I suspect you mean a TSP loan, I will assume you are a FERS employee. Your pension, as you refer to it, is the FERS annuity. Your TSP has NO bearing on that component of your retirement, as it has no bearing on Social Security money. When you retire, and you have an outstanding loan, you will be taxed HARSHLY. I would suggest that you call TSP at 1-877-968-3778 so that they can explain how an outstanding balance would affect you should you retire early. My suggestion is always pay it off before you retire, it’s just messy when you don’t and costs you BIG. So in effect, yes it can be done, but you take a serious financial hit, if it is not paid before you retire… them, so at least you know what will be in front of you should you take the loan and retire. Roseanne

Q 7a. Thanks for the info Roseanne. I was talking about the TSP loan. However, I am CSRS, does that change anything?

A 7a. Yes, it does change the answer, because as a CSRS annuitant, TSP really is a bonus (for us CSRS employees). The payback is still crushing like I said, but it’s not a part of your retirement, like it is for a FERS employee. Roseanne

Till we speak again…Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A July 2012

Good Day Postal Employees:

This has been a very busy month with the early out’s that were offered to mail handlers and postmasters. I have had many of you write and ask about the possibility of an early out for clerks, city letter carriers, rural letter carriers and supervisors. These decisions will be made after the organization sees how many have actually retired, from this round of early out’s and decide if they need to reduce staffing even further. If you look over the past few years, the early out’s started back in 2009, and have continued still. So the question of WILL YOU be offered an early out if you are in the categories above. If they feel that is the only way to reduce the number of employees still on the rolls is to offer an early out with or without an incentive, to get to the staffing numbers they need to efficiently and fiscally operate the organization, they will. I used the word efficiently…because with mass retirements, comes a loss of long-term knowledge, and extensive skills and abilities. Yea, I know there are quite a few employees out there, that feel many of their co-workers should retire, have the years and age to retire…and many of you know…they should, but they won’t. Many of the CSRS employees have the “41yrs. 11mo. mind set” and are waiting to collect 80% of their high 3 average salary, and will not leave until they reach that magic number. FERS employees don’t have that “magical” year combination, because of their 3-tiered retirement plan. FERS is only one component of that 3 tiered plan. The BIG money for FERS employee’s in retirement is TSP…so you had better fund it WELL!!

Also this month, I have had discussions with a few employees that have been reviewing their eOPF in liteblue, and found documents that did not belong to them. Please, as I have said in the past, you need to review your eOPF periodically. This will also ensure that any discipline which has a 2 yr life in the OPF (providing there is NO other discipline within that 2 year time frame (from the date of the discipline), has been removed from your eOPF. If you have not had discipline in two years from the date of the last discipline, you can request to your district labor relations office to have the discipline removed from your file. As an example, in speaking to one employee who was getting ready to retire and was looking for a beneficiary form, found discipline in his file from 22 years ago that was never removed, AND a health benefit form that did not belong to him. It had the same last name, but was not the same person. A word to the wise….

I will begin this column with the answer to question #6, that many of you requested that I publish the answer…sorry about that..

Q 6.Hi Roseanne, Just a quick question ,I received my Personal Statement of Benefits-2012 the other day. At the bottom of the page it says total creditable service is 35 years and 4 months. It then states for optional retirement under CSRS you will receive an annuity equal to approximately 66% of your average high -3 salary. My question is I thought for each year of CSRS service worked, is equal to 2% for each year worked minus sick leave, if so why is it only 66% for 35 years and 4 months and not 70% (2 x 35= 70) ? Thank You, B

THE ANSWER: Although everyone will use the term “56% at 30 years…However, the exact calculations are as follows:

1.5% X HI-3 Av Salary X 5 (first 5 yrs of employment)
1.75% X HI-3 Av Salary X 5 (next 5 yrs of employment)
2.00% X HI-3 Av Salary X remaining yrs( balance of yrs of employment)

Q 1. -Hi Roseanne, I enjoy reading your newsletter. I am FERS with 28 years of service. I am 52 years old. If a VERA is offered and they make me eligible to retire (by 25 yrs service for example), how do the 3 parts of retirement work? I know I would get the postal annuity (minus health, life, etc) but would I still get the SS supplement at age 56 (my MRA) even if I retire before age 56? Would it kick in at 56? Or do I have to work until age 56 to get this? And as far as the TSP goes, can I take monthly TSP annuity payments without penalty at 52? Is it just if I withdraw the entire amount before age 59 that I would get 10% penalty? Thanks, AW

A 1. – Hi AW, IF you are offered a VERA early out retirement:

1. At age 52 w/28 yrs makes you ELIGIBLE to retire under VERA rules.
2. You would get your FERS annuity, minus life & health insurance, Fed tax and depending what state you live in state tax.
3. As far as your special supplement, you would receive that WHEN you turned your MRA
4. TSP, when an early out is offered there are special “considerations” given to your TSP fund. The 59.5 issue is confusing and does not really play into at all, when you are dealing with an early out retirement and as a FERS employee, when you are at your MRA. If you are not at your MRA, then other rules apply. But UNDERSTAND THIS ABOVE IS ONLY IF A VERA IS OFFERED. Roseanne

Q 2. -I have been exploring the advisability of seeking an alternative to my 5X life insurance available through the USPS group term. This payment, although seemingly expensive, is nothing compared to the cost of that benefit when I become an annuitant (something in excess of $400.00 vs. the current $163.00+ as an active employee). I am thinking that State Farm can find a competitive vehicle especially if that annuitant figure is the bi-weekly charge. I assume since the amount deducted from pay is the bi-weekly amount on the estimate so is the >$400.00 figure. Ouch! Perhaps SF can’t beat the employee group rate but it seems that surely they will be able to beat the annuitant amount. Exploration with agent in progress.

Just need to check that the rate goes up that much as reflected by the annuity estimate. Will the Health benefit suffer the same expansion? Plus, the figure given for the “retirement income” is actually what might be expected in gross amount as delineated on the estimate. I only have 17 years in (age:64) and I am uncertain about that figure, especially with the prospects of a VERA. I am an ET and have heard nothing about our inclusion in this long kiss goodbye prospect. K

A 2. – The rates for life insurance (FEGLI) have increased dramatically for basic life insurance no reduction and the 50% reduction. The rates for Option C and Option B have also increased. You should go to get the new rates so you can evaluate the increase for these optional insurance’s as you age, and make a decision to continue paying as an employee, and possibly into retirement, or look to an outside insurance policy that no doubt will be much more reasonable. Roseanne

Q 3. – Years ago I attended a session you held at the Greensboro District Office when there was a VERA offer. You discussed the difference between the No Reduction, 50% Reduction, and 75% Reduction of the Basic Life Insurance. You showed us some figures and calculations and came up with a recommendation as to which was better, but I don’t remember which is was. Can you let me know which you recommend and why? Thank, C

A 3. -Hi C, Well, since I did that session, the rates for no reduction and the 50% reduction have skyrocketed…the most economical choice is the 75% reduction. If you tell me what your current salary is, I can give you the figures for the no reduction; 50% reduction and the 75% reduction. Roseanne

R 3. – $56,810.00

RA 3. -56,810 rounded up to the nearest thousand (57) plus 2G= 59,000 of basic life insurance.

No reduction $241.60 per month (until age 65). At age 65+ $222.43 per month, and unless you cancel, you will always pay $222.43 per month, and the insurance will always be valued at $59,000.

50% reduction $92.04 per month(until age 65). At age 65+ $73.16 per month, when the payment reduces to 73.16, the $59,000. begins to reduce also at the rate of 1% per month until the insurance reaches $29,500 and remains that..but it also means you will be paying 73.16 for life.

75% reduction $19.17 per month (until age 65). At age 65+ and over is FREE. And when the payment stops, this $59,0000. begins to reduce at the rate of 2% per month until the insurance reaches $14,750 and remains that. It takes about 3 years for both the 50% and 75% reductions to be complete, at about age 68. Roseanne

Q 4. -Hi Roseanne,Thanks for listening, I started 1/72 as a CSRS PTF carrier and got out in 5/84 to raise a family, when I left I took my 11000. retirement. I recently went back in 5/05 to present as a PTF CSRS/offset. Finally after 7 long months I received paperwork for a payback amount. I will have to payback 53,000.00. How on earth do I figure if this would be worth it and how do I find out when I can retire, and most importantly how much I would get a month for an annuity? If you can point me in the right direction it would be appreciated. Thanks, S

A 4. – Hi Susan, What you are paying back is 12 years and 4 months of federal service. How it was calculated is 6.14% (may be a point of percentage off) of your earnings for those 12y4mo..THEN that is compounded by interest for the last 28 years!! The amount that you have to pay to even begin the “buyback” is exactly the 6.14% (initial deposit)of what you owed without the interest. Now the question, is it worth it?? If you are a CSRS/offset, your retirement will be calculated as a CSRS employee…when you turn 62, then it is recalculated because you are eligible to draw a social security check. If you are a FERS employee, then you are adding about 12% to your annuity. Is the 12% added each month worth it?? It depends on what your high 3 salary is…if you are CSRS/offset or if you are FERS. If you send me what your high 3 salary is and if you are CSRS/offset or FERS, I will show you what the calculations are, and then you can decide if it’s worth it or not…just going by my overall knowledge, and especially if you are FERS, I don’t think it’s worth it. But send me the info and I will do a few figures and see. Roseanne

R 4.- Wow that was fast, thank u so much. From 1972 to 1984 I was a CSRS, and from 2005 to present, I am CSRS/offset. Does it matter in any way that I have been a PTF the whole time? In 2012, I earned $54,600, in 2011 $ 52,250 and in 2010, $54, now I have 19yrs and 1 month, and I am 59 1/2. Is it 60 with 20 years service minimum to retire. Much appreciate, S.,

AR 4. – Hi S, Even as a CSRS/offset, you are governed by CSRS rules…so you can retire at age 55 with 30yrs or 60 with 20 yrs or 62 with 5 years….unless an early out is offered to you. If no early out is offered, then you need to wait until you are at least 60 with at least 20 in reading this, I suspect you will be 60 and then you will a few months later have 20 years…and that is when you can retire.

As far as the PTF thing is concerned…yep, they are going to ensure that you have 40+ hours. As a PTF, you can only get the annuity estimate, twice a year…because it is not calculated in the NARCES estimate as full time employees are done. This creates difficulty in really KNOWING how much your retirement (monthly) annuity will be. This is for ALL PTF employees. Much of it has to do with “just how many hours did you work”. So, with the amounts that you gave me:

54,600+52,200+54,200=$161,000 divided by 3 = 53,666 as your high 3 average salary.

53,666. X 1.5%=804.99 X 5 (1st 5 yrs of employment) = $4024.95
53,666. X 1.75%=939.15 X 5(2nd 5 yrs of employment) = $4695.55
53,666. X 2.00=1,073.32 X 10(balance of yrs of employment)= $10,733.20
$19453.70 Yrly Annuity

19,453.70 divided by 12 = $1,621.11 monthly WITHOUT SPOUSAL ANNUITY
$1,459.14 monthly with a spousal annuity

If you paid back that “amount” of money…it would add 12 years, an additional 24%

SO 53,666. X 2.00% = 1,073.32 x 20= 21,466.40+ 4024.95+4695.55= 30,186.39
30,186.39 divided by 12 =$2515.52 monthly WITHOUT SPOUSAL ANNUITY
$2264.52 monthly without spousal annuity

And that is all well and good UNTIL you turn 62, and then your retirement is recalculated by OPM, because you are eligible for social security. Unlike regular CSRS employees, your social security will NOT be reduced…whew!! I hope this has helped in understanding your retirement plan. Roseanne

RR 4. – Roseanne you are amazing! Thank you so much for your time and expertise..I will be reading your section in postal mag….S.

Till we speak again…….. Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A August 2012

Good Day Postal Employees:

Yesterday on MSNBC news show, “Morning Joe”, the panel was discussing the financial problems of the US Postal Service and the “issue of the day” was their inability to pay 5.5 billion to OPM tomorrow and 5.6 billion in September. The statement made was that the money was “for future postal employees health benefits”. In reality it is the Postal Service’s contribution for their postal retirees health benefits… “10 years in advance”. As an example, if you have BCBS Family 105, your premium (in 2012) as a retiree is $430.04 per month. Sounds high, doesn’t it? Not really. The actual premium for BCBS 105 is $1,327.80 per month. The post office’s portion is $897.76 per month. And so, the month after you retire, the post office has to pay $107,731.12!!! Why? Because the post office is required to pay their retirees health benefit premiums 10 years in advance. (897.76 x 12 months x 10 years = $107,731.12).

They addressed that President Lincoln’s first job was at the post office. They went on to say that as an organization, we are losing 25 million dollars a day. They discussed that “in the day” “the post office was the center of cultural life”; “time and technology seems to be passing the post office by”; “the post office is facing extinction”; “their employees have outrageously high retirements and health benefits”; “is the post office worth saving?”; “FedEx came in and used SOPHISTICATED TECHNOLOGY” that changed how the phrase overnight is interpreted. These are harsh and disturbing statements, but seem to be on target. One of the panel members discussed should the post office be viewed “for the public good” or “social function” meaning societal.

NO ONE ON THE PANEL EVER DISCUSSED THE FACT THAT WE WERE NOT ALWAYS LIKE THIS!!! And by that I mean, the public as a whole, really does not understand that we are the only federal agency that is REQUIRED to make a profit, because we, although are a government agency, we are not working with funds from the public, via taxes. We are funded by the products we sell and the services we provide. What do you think the percentage is of your average American, not us, not postal employees, just the everyday person living in the US, knows that we are the ONLY federal agency NOT funded by tax dollars??? Hardly any!! They may have heard it, but truly don’t understand it. They bitch and complain when the stamp rate increases, but don’t understand that at the end of the day, you are paying very “little” to get a letter across town, across the country, or across the ocean.

This will probably generate a lot of “chatter”, but you know, if WE are worth saving, then perhaps conversations could be started with the Postal Service going back to what they were before, which was the U.S. Post Office…funded by tax dollars, not required to make a profit, because then we would be just like every other federal agency, a social agency. When we go to the airport, are we required to pay TSA upfront before we fly, for them to “feel us up”? Are we required to pay the IRS to “figure out” what we “owe” them? That is one idea.

The other idea, change how we operate as an organization. Three shifts could be reduced to one or two. The fact that a great percent of our employees work Tour 1, and when looking at the accident rate and HOW MANY ARE ON THE OWCP ROLLS!!, from injuries sustained at work, could be viewed that working tour 1 goes against the internal body clock. The human body is designed to sleep when it is dark, and be up when it is light…period. Oh, you can get used to it, people get used to anything. Getting used to it doesn’t mean that it won’t have a negative effect on your overall health and well being. Yea, I know, tour 1 gets Night Differential and while I am on the subject, they need to get rid of their Sunday premium pay too..


Q 1.Hi Roseanne, If you have a tsp loan and you are retiring .What happens to the loan? Do you need to pay it off or what ? Thank you for your help.

A. 1. If you are going to retire with an outstanding loan with TSP, you can believe it is going to COST YOU if you don’t pay if off prior to retirement. When I say cost you, do this…call the TSP office and ask what effect your not paying off your loan prior to retirement and find out how much you will have to pay back. I tell you this because as an EXAMPLE ONLY!! If I had 200,000 in TSP and I took out 50,000 (have paid back 15,000. & owe 35,000.) and then decided to retire:

1. The total amount of the money in TSP is a combination of what YOU HAD DEDUCTED FROM YOUR PAYCHECK (whatever percentage you selected), THE MATCHING FUNDS THE PO CONTRIBUTED, AND THEN INTEREST OF THAT MONEY.

2. You have not EVER paid any TAX on any of that money, and your tax liability is going to be outrageous! If you owe 35, and borrowed 50, you still OWE the money (35,000) and still owe the taxes on 15, you paid back…

I don’t have access to anyone’s records but I think this compels you to be proactive before you make a decision you may not financially want to live with. Roseanne

Q 2. -Hi, Roseanne. I REALLY look forward to reading your column each month. Please keep up the great work. Here’s my problem: I am CSRS with 33 years service and would like to retire 12/31/12. In looking over my Retirement Annuity Estimate I find that during the period 11/20/79-12/28/79 (casual employee) and 3/8/80-7/24/81 (rural carrier sub) my CSRS retirement contributions are listed as “N” under the “Funded” column. This is a total of 1 year 5 months and 26 days. If I am reading the OPM website correctly, I must apply to make a deposit to cover the lacking retirement funds (Form 2803) or my pension will be permanently reduced. It also says that if I intend to retire within six months, I should not apply for deposit. I am at a loss here. Is there any way to determine how much money I might have to pay? How much will my monthly retirement be reduced if I elect not to make this deposit? And do I need to postpone my retirement date until this is settled? Thanks so much for your time and help. TM

A 2. -Hi TM, If you want my opinion…1 1/2 years is not enough of an increase to begin the payback. The interest alone would take you 8-10 years to recover and the increase to the check is ONLY…1.75%. Why bother. Your annuity is not going to be reduced…your annuity statement is correct, because if validates that “N” as not being funded.

As far as determining how much. You would need to find your earnings for those non-credible years (Total amount earned), then take 7% of that figure and that would be your deposit to even start the buy back. THEN that figure has interest applied compounded daily for the LAST 30+ years. My opinion…don’t bother it’s not worth it. Roseanne

R 2. Roseanne, Thanks so much for your lightning-fast answer to my question. Did you ever consider running for President? I would vote for you in a heartbeat. Thanks again. TM

RA 2.Wow!…No, never thought of it…I sort of like staying under the radar…it makes it easy to stay pure and not be swayed by any “organizational issues” to distort or not fully explain how rules and regs should be applied as it relates to Human Resources and retirement. You are welcome ! Roseanne

NUMBER 3 is a series of Q/A’s:

Q. Hi Roseanne, Just need one quick clarification on the supplement, please. If I go on a Vera and am not 56 yet which is my minimum retirement age. If I went on a Vera at 53 with 28 years in the p.o. My supplement will then start when I reach 56. Correct? If I had 25 years in at 56 and I retired under a Vera at 56 would my supplement begin at 56 or 60? Because supplement states I must be 56 with 30 years, under a Vera do you still need to meet both qualifications to receive the supplement. Thanks. PB

A. Hi Paula, Under VERA rules if you are offered an early out VERA (and are not yet at your MRA) you will get the supplement when you reach your MRA.
Let me quote straight out of the FERS retirement manual….

“If your agency offers you an early optional retirement, you may retire if you meet the age and service requirements (Age 50 with at least 20 years of service) or (Any age with 25 years or more of service). You must retire within the time frames specified in the early out retirement offer. Agencies may grant permission to offer early retirements by OPM if agency is undergoing a major reduction in workforce, reorganization, or transfer of function. The CSRS portion of the CSRS/FERS Transfer annuity benefit is reduced by 2% for each year that you are under age 55 on date of retirement. The FERS portion of the annuity is NOT reduced. Special Supplements are not payable until you reach your MRA. Special retirement supplements are subject to Social Security earnings.” Roseanne

R.Hi Roseanne, Thanks for your info. I am having trouble believing that my friend may get to retire with me because she will receive the supplement too if a vera or vsip is offered. My friend was born in 1959 like me and our mra is 56. She has five less years of service than I do. If we retire under a vera at 55 or sooner both of us will collect our supplement when we turn 56. Her supplement will be a little less but she will be collecting it for about six years like i will, until 62. So by her leaving early she is gaining around 60,000 dollars (33×25 years of service=825.00 a month x 12from 9,900 a year x 6 years= 60,400) compared to just collecting for 2 years at 60 years of age. Are there any penalties toward social security if she collected an early supplement supplement? Thanks again, I just do not want to get her hopes up and it not be true. PB

My Response: Hi PB, Yes if you both are 53, and you have 27 yrs and she has 22/23 years you are both eligible for the early out. If you are FERS, the criteria is: At least 50, with 20 years of service OR 25 years of service at any age. That is the criteria period.

There is no “reduction” anywhere for the Special Supplement. Your special supplement would be more than the co-worker you speak of, just as your FERS annuity would be more than your co-worker. YOU would receive 27% of your high 3 average salary, divided by 12. Your co-worker would receive 23% of the high 3 average salary, divided by 12. You would received around $890.00 per month ($33. x 27yrs) as the Spec Supplement; Your co-worker would receive around $$760.00 per month ($33. X 23) as the Spec Supplement. I hope this has helped clear up this issue for you. Roseanne

PB Response: Thanks so much Roseanne, So if my friend can go financially speaking, it really is advantageous for her since the post office or opm will be paying her the special supplement from the time she reaches her mra (56) until the age of 62. When I reach 56 I will have my 30 years in service so I never thought much about it both coincided.

Everyone is planning for retirement and another question came up. If you take a lot of leave without pay your pension will be reduced. I told them not really unless you exceed 6 months in a calendar year otherwise your pension is based on your base salary excluding overtime & premiums. In calculating number of years I think if you begin in august – Dec the year is not counted. And if you retire in Jan – June the months are not counted toward retirement. Is this true? And for both fers & csrs? Sorry for all of the questions but you are the only one we really trust at work. Thanks for all of your time and effort. PB

My Final Response: Hi PB, Well thank you for the faith everyone has in me. If you have LWOP you are correct. The effect is only after 6mo in each calendar year. As far as your federal time and how it is calculated in the retirement figures…you are paid for total years and total months and yes even total days. This is true for both CSRS and FERS. Now the only way for this statement to be untrue, would be if you retired on Sept 15th, and your annuity begins Oct 1, you are not paid from Sept 16 thru Sept 30 on either a paycheck or an annuity…this is just to be clear. Roseanne

Q 4.Roseanne,Just read your June 2012 Q&A.. So you’re saying one can start withdrawing from your TSP at say 54 years old provided you are retired and not have to pay the 10% early withdrawal penalty? And you don’t have to purchase an annuity, you can just for example tell them to send you $500.00 a month? Is that correct? Thank, PY

A 4. Hi PY, I you are offered an early out and you do retire, you will look in the TSP booklet TSPBK02; on page 11, How your Annuity is Taxed: let me quote this for you

“FOR FERS or CSRS TSP accounts. Taxes on all contributions to your TSP account and the earnings on those contributions are deferred until the money is paid to you. Therefore, your TSP annuity payments will be taxed as ordinary income in the years when you receive them. However, these annuity payments are NOT subject to the IRS early withdrawal penalty, even if you are under age 55 when they begin.” Roseanne

R 4. Yes but I still believe it refers to purchasing an Annuity with your TSP money and not just withdrawing some each month on your own from your account.
Don’t you think?

Final 4 Response: But I was totally referring to an early out. Once you are NO LONGER an employee, then how you want your TSP monies to be allocated are your decision. As far as “withdrawing” some each month…that is called FULL WITHDRAWAL, and that is paid by TSP (not Metropolitan Life…which is “financial vehicle” federal annuities are sold to). The Full withdrawal option requires you to either “select” the same amount each month, or let TSP determine (based on the IRS Life Expectancy Table) what the monthly amount would be. Roseanne

Till we speak again….. Roseanne

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 word…no. 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 attack…at 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

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 through…YOU…my 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 retires…me 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 retirement…it’s much easier and cheaper. When you apply for retirement and carry family coverage…you 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 equal…an 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)…it 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 quarters…my 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 gone…no 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 back…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-service enrollment system will reflect the lower maximum contribution. Program materials will be issued as in past years to coincide with FSA open season, which begins in November 2012.”

Postal Retirement Q&A November 2012

Good Day Postal Employees……..

What a month this has been! Hectic, and tremendously exciting for those that will retire under the Vera. I know that this has been overwhelming for you with the anticipation of getting your paperwork completed and tying up loose ends as you wind down your careers. This will be a monumental change for you…prepare to become somewhat normal… seriously. It’s going to take about 6 full months for you get over the “postal employees knee-jerk reaction” to just everything, we all have/had it. You will begin to unwind that “internal top”, you know, the one that has been inside you since the day you became a postal employee, it has been winding up and down for “our” entire postal careers.

Learn to just relax…not watching a clock to see how many hours you have left before you have to “clock-in”…just relax. This is SO WORTH IT! Retirement is so worth it! That is why when I was in management, I would take such the approach, that you have no idea the type of job you are pissing away by not coming to work..being late…nickel and dime their sick leave, and all the time I knew..if YOU only knew what I knew about the great retirement we had at the end of the road, you would have had a very different attitude towards your job. NOW I did not say it was easy, nothing worth anything is easy…I know we ALL, every single one of us postal employees (and retirees) have had what I call “your day in the SUN with the PO”…all have “issues” with the organization, or management, and some very very legitimate…and as we all know, some just total BS. So any of us that get to retire, we all come with some baggage and scars, some deeper than others, but we made it! And for those who are retiring CONGRATULATIONS….IT WAS A LONG, HARD JOURNEY BUT YOU MADE IT…I wish you much joy and peace in retirement.

For the rest of our postal family, it’s back to the either the same grind or a new grind…”a change in career status” or “reduction of hours” the unknown of where we are going as an organization has those still employed and those that still care wonder.

I have answered tons of emails this month, and almost 90% of them have to do with this early out. Specifically information..information..information. The information that is out there is so out of line with the reality of retirement. But let me qualify that…you all have certain ideas about retirement or TSP, annual leave, sick leave etc. In your ideas or what you think you know, is always a kernel of truth, maybe 2 or 3 kernels…but the essence of the information is generally so off, so wrong that I spend more time trying to make every one UNLEARN what they think they know.

Let me give you an example. “Roseanne, I am leaving with the early out, I am a FERS employee and I am 58 and have 25 years. I don’t know if I can afford to retire, my annuity is only going to be $1400 per month, I have to wait until I am 62 to collect my social security, and then I still have to wait until I am 59 and half to begin my TSP”

Now, how many of you agree, disagree with that above statement? Well the first thing is NOT ONE BIT OF THAT IS CORRECT…NOT ONE SINGLE TINY PIECE OF THAT IS CORRECT.

This employee will get $1400 (FERS), of course minus life insurance, health insurance and federal tax, but additionally the special supplement (you know..I talk about this all the time..the bridge of money that carries you until you are 62 when you can collect SS), and at 25 years, I calculate the (Spec Supp) at about $800.. (Doesn’t matter how I got there for this exercise) AND you are able to apply and begin to collect your TSP the day after TSP receive their electronic communication that you are no longer an employee and are retired. So what was my answer? Well of course the bigger issue is what did this employee have in TSP. In this case, somewhere around 100,000.00 When you add that to a net FERS of about 950, and then the 800 Spec Suppl; TSP is looking like at age 58, with about $100,000. should be a gross of about $397.00. So this employee’s 3 component retirement looks like this:
$ 950.(Net FERS)
$ 800.(SpcSup)
$ 397.(TSP) = $2097.00……..until age 62

$ 950.
$ 1633.
$ 397.= 2980.00………I TOLD YA…SO WORTH IT !!!

Q 1.Hi Roseanne, I am in the clerk craft and was offered the incentive. I am 60 Years old with 25yrs, and also have 2 years of sick leave making it 27 years. I was originally hired as a casual clerk, and then after my score was reached on the hiring register, I was converted to a ptf. I was told that I can buy my time back as a casual and add it to my service time. I would like your opinion if you think it’s a good move to spend the money to buy it back.JS

A. 1. Hi JS, You asked my the scheme of time frames, early out..deadlines, to even initiate an inquiry for the buy back during…..this time is really not a good move. The advantage to your annuity is less than 1%…save yourself the grief…time wise and money wise, it’s not worth it. Just retire. Take care, Roseanne

Follow Up 1. Roseanne, thank you. I took your advise..I am retiring..thank you for all of the advice you have given me and my co-workers out there…but stay, continue to do what you do. You may not know, but postal employees out there rely on your for your brutal 🙂 honesty..sincere thanks for all that you do for us..JS

Q 2. I am a CSRS clerk craft employee with 34 years of service and 52 years of age. I am trying to decide on this retirement incentive as to if I should stay or go. I know I will incur a penalty by taking the early out being that I am under age 55. Many of us are facing consolidation of the facilities we work at, sometime between Dec-2013 or Jan-Feb 2014. Our mail is to be sent to a processing facility well over 60 miles. I could consider staying this last year before the facility moves to this new processing facility.My question is this, Does the discontinued service retirement option apply if I was offered employment in the processing facility 60+ miles away? Would this option also apply if the postal service offered me employment as a carrier in my local commuting area even though it is a change of craft. At 52 years of age I don’t see how I would be able to perform carrier duties. There are so many grey areas, and the state of the postal service really scares me. I don’t know how long things will be operating at the current level. Any answers you can give me will greatly be appreciated in helping me make my final decision……thanks so much for your input L


A3.Honestly, no…the Rural Carrier Pay Schedule is SO DIFFERENT; annual/sick calculations are different…their Union is mighty …and they have a “true pathway” to career employment, unlike any other non-career. Roseanne

Q 4. Hi Roseanne, I imagine your being deluged with email right now. I appreciate all you do by answering our questions. I am taking the recently offered VERA for clerks. I presently have health insurance coverage for myself only as my wife is covered by a plan provided by her private sector employer. Will I be able to add her to my plan when she retires in a few years? If I can, will I have to wait until Open Season to do this? I don’t know if this has any bearing but I’m retiring under CSRS. Thank you once again! Sincerely,ZT

A 4. Hi ZT, Regardless, as a federal employee or a federal retiree, you have the option of yearly (during open season) change from single to family or change the health plan provider during open season, that would be for the following benefit year. I would strongly suggest that you strategically plan for this…the year she is going to retire, the prior year during open season, put her on your health plan…Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, I am looking forward to taking the VERA being offered to the APWU. I presently have the BCBS 105 family plan and I understand that I will pay approx. $434 per month as an annuitant. If I elect to enroll in the APWU health plan do I also have to pay union dues in addition to the insurance premium? Trying to make an informed decision.
Thanks for your input. R

A 5. Yes you will have to pay the Associated Membership fee…and must be paid yearly. Before you retire, visit your local union office to find out how to initiate the Associate Membership fee and that way, that is one less thing you have to do in retirement. Take care, Roseanne

Well I will wind this column up by saying……..till we speak again….Roseanne

Good Day Postal Employees, in my November 2012 Column, Question #2 has ONE WORD THAT HAS CHANGED THE ENTIRE ANSWER COMPLETELY, AND IT IS MY FAULT. In the following answer, my hands were typing about “discontinued” and my head was talking Deferred Retirement. I apologize for any confusion this caused. To say I have been inundated with emails would be an understatement! Again I am committed to making sure you get the right information, and as soon as it was brought to my attention, I wanted to bring it to yours.

Q 2. I am a CSRS clerk craft employee with 34 years of service and 52 years of age. I am trying to decide on this retirement incentive as to if I should stay or go. I know I will incur a penalty by taking the early out being that I am under age 55. Many of us are facing consolidation of the facilities we work at, sometime between Dec-2013 or Jan-Feb 2014. Our mail is to be sent to a processing facility well over 60 miles. I could consider staying this last year before the facility moves to this new processing facility. My question is this, Does the discontinued service retirement option apply if I was offered employment in the processing facility 60+ miles away? Would this option also apply if the postal service offered me employment as a carrier in my local commuting area even though it is a change of craft. At 52 years of age I don’t see how I would be able to perform carrier duties. There are so many grey areas, and the state of the postal service really scares me. I don’t know how long things will be operating at the current level. Any answers you can give me will greatly be appreciated in helping me make my final decision……thanks so much for your input L



CORRECT ANSWER: It’s true, you will incur a 2% loss for each year but an opportunity like this does not come that often, or may not come again. JUST RETIRE-LAST THOUGHTS RETIRE

Till we speak again……..Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A December 2012

Good Day Postal Employees!!!!!!!!

Whew!! This has been one K-Razy month! The email questions have been really over the top. The uncertainty that is/was out there; the fear; the lack of information; the inability to get through to talk to someone; same question..3 different answers from 3 different people….I suppose you all know, since still employed, not hard to figure out who I am referring to. I have tried to answer each question but I have had some issues of my own this month as it relates to computers and network. I had to laugh, because as I have told many people via my email responses, the APWU early out blew up my computer and have been trying to answer on phone and tablet and when I was able to get connection to the new lap top. So if I have missed anyone please send me your question again. I am hoping to have this resolved (again) by the end of this week.

So many of you that have written me were so misinformed about everything that it was hard to keep on task with even the most simple questions. The questions were wrapped around bad information, so in essence, I had to “re-invent” the wheel in terms of retirement systems’ differences, just in order to answer the question. Many of the questions wound up not even being a question, because what it was based on, was just FLAT OUT WRONG!!! I have spent much of my month saying these exact words “I don’t care what HRSSC said”. Why did I spend so much time saying that, because the information that, (at least what you all were telling me) was absolutely wrong. AND YOU ALL KNEW IT WAS WRONG, BECAUSE YOU WOULD CALL THEM BACK AND GET SOMEONE ELSE TELLING YOU SOMETHING DIFFERENT, than the first or the second answer. This month I tried to find the best emails that related issues that are pertinent right now. Some of your emails were very combative in regards to how you feel about how “retirement” is handled, and someone of you this was your first experience with HRSSC – and it was SHEER UNMITIIGATED CULTURE SHOCK!! Many of you that have not bidded in years, or really didn’t have any changes that needed personnel, or now HRSSC assistance with, you were the employees most affected by this. There are some emails that I wouldn’t print that are too personal in nature, and some even request that I don’t use their “scenario” in my column, and I always do respect that, and don’t. If I don’t say it now, it will pass…If you read something I write, and you can help a fellow employee by explaining something to them, just do it. I want all of you out there to have the best retirement and watch for the curve balls…cuz we all know at the end of the day…this is still the PO.

Q 1. Hi Roseanne, I am a 63 years old Rural Carrier. I am in the CSRS/OFFSET retirement system. I am planning on retiring either the end of this year or the beginning of next year. I would like to know your opinion on buying back my non-funded years? I entered on duty, Jan 16, 1980 as a 73-0 sub. Then on Dec 12, 1984, in a leave earning status 73/77 sub / auxiliary carrier through Sept 23, 1985, and was made regular rural carrier. I resigned in December 23, 1996, with frozen retirement contributions. I came back and was re-employed March 15, 2001, as a casual. On September (2001) was converted to RCA (reached on the hiring worksheet), and then Sept 15, 2007 was converted to regular rural carrier. I have called HRSSC a few times, and it is a joke! When I spoke to the first lady that answered the phone and explained that I wanted to know how much it was to pay back the non-funded time, I was told that I could not buy any time back. Every time I asked a question, she had to leave the phone and come back and answer. I asked her how long she had been working at HRSSC, she said “awhile”. When I told this to my postmaster, she told me to call back, that I could buy the time back. I called a couple of days later and spoke to someone else, and they told me I could pay it back. I don’t understand why they have people on the phone that clearly don’t know much or anything about rural carriers. How are we supposed to make a decision to retire, if even the post office can’t answer a question

A 1. The first thing you need to know is that your years (and depending on when these years occurred) sometimes are ONLY credible for calculation for ELIGIBILITY to retire, versus years that are used in a retirement calculation. In a quick review, I see this as you having a total creditable and paid for years as 16 years, 7 months and 16 days. It looks like you can pay back is 5 years, 8 months and 7 days, based on the dates you sent me. Once you see your annuity statement, that should back up my calculations. That being said, the 5+ years that you can pay back will not be ONLY the 7% of the total earned salary during those years, but the INTEREST for the last almost 30 years. If you were a straight CSRS and not a CSRS/offset…even then I might not even consider it due the cost. As a CSRS/offset, at age 62 your annuity is going to be re-calculated, because you are the type of CSRS employee that will get your FULL Social Security check without a reduction. However, your CSRS annuity will be offset, or reduced. I say that to say, I personally don’t think it’s a good value. BUT that is just my opinion. What may be also my opinion, is that you aren’t going to get the information back regarding the buy back in time from HRSSC to EVEN make a decision if you are banking on retiring at the end of the year. Again, sorry, I would have answered it sooner, but because this wound up in my spam box, I had not really checked it, with the computer issues I have had this month, and too I have been swamped with early out retirement sessions. Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne, It’s an honor to meet you.. I just wanted to say THANKS for all your knowledge and wisdom you’ve provided on I thoroughly enjoy reading other’s questions and then your answers to said questions every month.. Its been very insightful. I have at least a 2 part question but the other question(s) depends on the answer to my 1st question. It’s not really a technical question as much as it requires you looking into your crystal ball and giving your best opinion. I’m a 60 year old rural carrier(leave comp date, enter on duty date & retirement comp date of of 06-4-77, retirement plan 5-CSRS offset with a balance of 335.50 days sick leave{never to this day “knock on wood” used a sick day})… Someone asked if you thought rural carriers would be offered a VERA and you answered “honestly, no.” You said “their Union is mighty and they have a “true pathway” to career employment, unlike any other non-career.” Here’s my question: Having said what you did about no VERA, do you ever see the day that rural carriers like myself who are eligible to retire but are not quite ready to do so for different reasons(mine being that I have a great route/post office plus I TRULY TRULY love what I do and feel extremely fortunate to have ever been hired back in 77 to begin with(long story), in good health plus I’m just not ready ‘yet” to call it quits) being forced out by management? In your opinion, do you ever see that scenario playing out???
Depending on what your crystal ball revealed will determine if I follow up with a “deposit/redeposit” or not question.. Thanks in advance for reading my email and I look forward to your reply.

A 2. Hi RT since it’s a two part question….It’s good that you asked this question, not because of the question, because I get to answer something that you didn’t ask (yet??) that may be far more important than an early out. Is your retirement code 5 (CSRS/offset). That answer will determine my answer to you.

2. Added: Roseanne, yes, my retirement is a code 5 offset as I mentioned above…and my leave comp date, enter on duty date & retirement comp date all on 06-04-77, with a balance over 300 days sick leave…RT

2. Response: Your retirement is based upon CSRS rules as it applies to you before age 62. At age 62 your annuity is recomputed, because you are going to receive full Social Security benefits, unlike a regular CSRS annuitant, BUT your CSRS annuity will be reduced. and you will receive the full SS chek . Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, I am a retired letter carrier who turned 65 years old last month under CSRS I had life insurance taken out of my ANNUITY STATEMENT FROM FEGLI AND NOW THEY ARE NOT TAKING PREMIUMS OUT OF MY ANNUITY AM I STILL COVERED FOR LIFE INSURANCE THROUGH FEGLI THANKS YOUR COLUMN IS GREAT.

A 3. Yes… are still covered! Once you turn 65, the basic life insurance payment stops…but your basic insurance (which was your yearly salary at retirement, rounded up to the nearest thousand,& with 2,000 added to that) will begin to reduce until it is 25% of the original value, and stays there. It takes about 3 years for the reduction to be complete. But you will always have life insurance. Roseanne

Q 4. Hi, I’m looking for some info and guidance on a VERA for a FERS employee. I’ve sent my application in for the early out offer and I am very concerned about the back log that’s happening over at OPM. I’ve called shared services who once quoted me a 6-8 week period before I receive my first annuity check with my 1st accurate computed check coming in @ 6 months. Another call to HRSSC said to expect a 4-6 week period before getting a check and then receiving a correct annuity in 6 months. Does this waiting period sound right? I didn’t prepare to well for retirement and may experience a financial hardship.

I’m 54 with over 27yrs of civilian service. I was told that under an early out offer I will receive the sup annuity when I turn 56. Is this correct? One more question. Also, I understand that when HRSSC receives your paperwork that they sent you out another booklet. What’s that all about?

I can imagine that your getting all kinds of email from your readers so I would really appreciate it if and when you can respond to my questions. Thank you in advance.

A 4. Stop worrying, it’s not going to be that bad. If you have sent in your paperwork already, you should be OK. I know what they are saying about 6-8 weeks period and that is correct…but understand something…two days ago, I got my annuity check. I got my check on Nov 1. BUT BUT BUT…did you know that check was paying me for October. So right off the bat, you are paid one month in arrears, so that 6-8 wk thing makes it look worse than what it really is. If you manage your last pay and your annual leave right, you should be OK. YES when you turn your MRA your special supplement should start. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BE IN FINANCIAL hardship…stop worrying, it’s going to be OK!! I know that HRSSC is resending books, and I know why but just don’t stress about I, it will all work out….trust me, it will. Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, Would I receive the social security supplement if i would retire at age 55 with 20 years of service with the post office. I’m in FERS. Also how much penalty would I get in my annuity doing this ?? Same question but if I stay 5 more years and retire at age 60 with 25 years of service. Also do you have a website or face book page to receive q & a from you ?? JM

A 5. If you are FERS, and are retiring with the early out, you would receive your supplement when you turn your MRA, typically age 56 or 57. There is no penalty on your age with your FERS annuity IF going with an early out.. Same answer except you are fully qualified to retire (age 60 w/at least 20 yrs). The only website is, in which I write the column. I don’t answer jack *%$# on FACEBOOK. Employment and retirement questions are way too personal for the entire family on FACEBOOK to look at, I will answer emails, just as I have done here. Roseanne

Q 6. Hello Roseanne, I am 60 yrs. old. and will be 62 in June 2014. I will have 20yrs at the PO in August 2014. Kind of a catch 22. I can retire now with the minimum age +10. How big of a hit is it if I go now or wait until I have the 20 yrs. in 2014?e am a FERS employee with about 150,000 in TSP with a single plan for medical . Obviously there is no bridge for social security. I am sure you are getting a ton of questions at this time but if you could take a second I would love to hear an answer. Thanks, AM

A. 6. Hi AM, after I read your email, the first thing I said was, yep, that sucks. Your eligibility is June 2014 (with age 62, with at least 5 years), so although you will have 20 yrs in August, you are able to retire fully in June. (UNDERSTAND I AM TALKING STRICTLY ABOUT ELIGIBILITY, AND JUNE 2014 YOU ARE FULLY ELIGIBLE, NOT AUGUST). Don’t confuse the eligibility with HOW your annuity is computed. Still sucks…as far as the early out for you, so I am telling you DO NOT….DO NOT….DO NOT.. take the MRA+10. It is a sucker move, I can go through all the reasons of the why’s, but I am so swamped with emails and individual counselings, I don’t have the time to show specifically why I say that. I just wanted to pop you an email to stop you from doing that if you were truly considering it. But to answer your question, if you were to retire MRA+10, your annuity would be calculated at 1.1% X your H3 Av Salary, divided by 12. Then you would have it reduced by 4% (the reduction is 2% for each year under 62). AND THEN TO ME, the bigger loss is not being eligible for the special supplement and for you it would be around $620-$680 per month. ARE YOU not able to stick it out 2 years!!! You have been through the hard part!! Don’t piss all those years away, retirement too WORTH IT…DO YOU HEAR ME………..Roseanne

Please have a safe & wonderful Christmas, Peace to you and Your Families….till we speak again, Roseanne