Postal Retirement

Postal Retirement Q&A January 2013

Good Day Postal Employees: I hope everyone has had a safe and wonderful holiday. Again another busy month with answering emails and assisting in some very emotional benefit cases out there. I think this will be a very interesting month in the post office. The sheer numbers that are leaving via AWPU early out, will begin to show wear on the post office very quickly if they don’t do some type of restructure. I can’t imagine it…..but what I hear from MANY MANY OF YOU ALL OVER THE COUNTRY!! is the amount of overtime and penalty time in 2012, especially towards the end of the year, according to you all out there…it was “record-breaking”!! Don’t you, those of you that worked it, find it just over the top ODD to have worked all this overtime….why!!?? I thought there was no mail!! So follow that up with the OT and the penalty….and then all the thousands of “early out” employee’s walk out the door on Jan 31….. well you tell me! I am sure you will, you all keep me so informed that I am able to relate information like this… all thinking it’s just YOUR office, or YOUR district, or YOUR plant that is the only one’s having this ridiculous OVERTIME…..not…it’s all over.

Q. 1 -Hello, I have a FERS retirement question for you. I am an EAS employee who frequently works 6 days a week. When I retire, will the extra pay be added to my annuity or is my annuity based on my base EAS salary only? Thank you for your assistance. MY

A. 1 – No. Your pay records are sent (an electronic transmission) from Eagan (MN where all the salary history is stored). OPM will then recalculate what the true high 3 figure is, and then use that to again recalculate for the monthly annuity. The reason for this is, all annuity estimates are really just a “snap shot” of the last 3 years of form 50 history. Because 95% of annuities are typically the last 3 years of a high average salary. Your annuity is based only on “a yearly salary” (the one on the PS Form 50 in your eOPF); overtime, Sunday Premuim, or Night Differential are not included in the calculations of retirement. Roseanne

Q.2 – Hi Roseanne, I will be taking the Vera on 1/31/13, and continuing the APWU health insurance. Do you know if I have to become a “retired associate member”, at $3.00 per month, to be allowed to continue with the Union’s health insurance? I was always under the impression that it would just transfer into retirement, and I would be done with paying dues. Thank you for your help-JR

A. 2 – Hi JR, yes you are required to pay an associate membership fee for any Union based health plan. You should contact your local union office to find out how to pay this fee as a retiree, or go on-line to that union’s national website for information on the procedures for postal annuitants. I do know that when you are retired you may be required to pay the fee on a yearly basis. Roseanne
Q 3.- Hi Roseanne, I have nearly 30 years in the post office. I want to take the incentive package they are offering to APWU, leaving on January 31st. I will turn 62 on February 28th, and I have been told that my annuity will be calculated at 1.1% when I turn 62. Do you think I should take the incentive, and have my retirement calculated at 1% or wait until March 1 to retire to have my annuity calculate at 1.1%, and give up getting the $15,000. incentive? Undecided

A 3.- Hi Undecided, It is all determined by your high 3 average salary and the number of years that you have worked. With nearly 30 years and just using an average Hi-3 salary of 55,000, for 29 years (and of course with the incentive..10 G’s this year (2013) and 5 G’s (2014) your FERS gross monthly annuity would be a $1329.00 versus $1463.00; if you waited until age 62 with the 1.1% calculation. This is just an example using that 55 as the high 3 average salary. Roseanne

Q 4.- Hey, Roseanne, I retired in 2009 under VERA, and I was a FERS employee. I was 55 years old with 24 years of service. There is no any increment or cola adjustment to my retirement up to 62 years of age. Will the OPM adjust cola or any increment to my retirement benefits for the past years, when I becomes 62 years old?

A 4.- Hi, After your retirement is/was completed, EVERYONE gets a 5×7 blue &white pamphlet, titled ” YOUR FEDERAL RETIREMENT BENEFITS”. This indicated that your retirement was complete, and all of the selections that you made on your retirement papers are consolidated in that blue pamphlet. It relates all information pertaining to YOUR retirement fund. OPM suggests that you keep that booklet with all of your important papers such as wills, etc. when you received this completed booklet from OPM. In the back of that book it outlines the information about COLA adjustments as it relates to FERS employees. Roseanne

Q 5.- Roseanne, I retired civil service in 2006, I turned 65 this past August and noticed that they stopped taking out the life insurance payment. does that mean I no longer have any life insurance? Thanks J

A 5. – Hi J, When you turn 65, if you have taken basic life insurance into retirement at the 75% reduction factor, (and also if you selected Option A), the premium stops (at age 65)…but then your insurance (which Basic began at your salary at retirement, rounded up to the nearest thousand, plus 2,000.) begins to reduce by 2% per month, until it reaches 25% of it’s original value, so yes you still have life insurance, just not at the same amount as it was when you retired, it’s one fourth of the original value. If you selected Option A (10,000) into retirement, it also reduces the same way and it will be 2,500 at around age 68. It too takes about 3 years on the reduction. Roseanne

Q 6. – Hello Roseanne, Does a retired Civil Service employee pay into social security if they go back to work as a PMR? I already have 34 quarters already paid into social security, will going back to work as a PMR for 6 more quarters give me the 40 quarters needed to collect SS? Thanks F

A 6.- Hi F, Yes, social security is taken out. As a PMR you are not a career employee so there is no retirement fund. Anything you add to the SS fund will add up to 40 if you are short. Be sure you are aware of the CSRS factors when working as a PMR while being a CSRS annuitant. There is a limitation to the number of days you can work, without it having an effect on your CSRS annuity check. Roseanne

Q 7.- Hey Roseanne, just wondering if you have any info from other retired PM about this. Reached my MRA on Nov 28th and my annuity statement for Jan 1 2013 does not reflect supplemental. Needless to say that calling OPM is insane and waiting for an email response is the same. Obviously it was not on my Dec pay either. My claim was finalized on Dec 10th and I retired July31st. Thank you, Retired Postmaster

A 7.- Hi Retired Postmaster, First thing is…I don’t think that an annuity statement WILL EVER reflect the special supplement. The special supplement is not a factor in the calculations of your federal retirement (FERS or CSRS). But let’s take this apart so you are not stressed. If you reached your MRA on Nov 28th, that means you are eligible for the supplement in December….HOWEVER…just like your annuity check, and social security check too, you are paid on the following month. So you are eligible in December,, which is paid for in January….you ain’t late yet buddy. Roseanne

Till we speak again……Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A February 2013

Good Day Postal Employees!! Doing my best to overcome the turmoil of the computer hacking and will try to turn to a more lively subject… the PO! So is it me..or are we disintegrating right before our very eyes. OK, hold on to your britches… this ain’t going to be pretty!!

It is not something that I have to tell you, you see it everyday, and all of you write and tell me issues at your specific offices that are a very common theme throughout the postal service, from NDC’s; Processing Plants; Post Offices, and yep, Headquarters too. The lack of leadership, the promotions of employees to managerial positions, that make you wonder if they promote the most incompetent to these positions by “design”.

There are several things I have learned over the course of this month that are disturbing to me & probably will be to you. First there is “chatter” about the TACS offices going away and having Eagan, MN do timekeeping for everyone. Well from the standpoint of being a manager (and of course an employee) this is DREADFUL. Not having a time and attendance office on site at each District will wreck havoc in paychecks being correct. How many times do you all think that managers and supervisors are prompted to put in time for employees? OK, so what do I mean about that? The clerks in time keeping, actually keep management on their toes about ensuring that time is put in for employees. I am sure you all know, and no doubt have done, not clocked out for lunch or in for lunch. As if that is something that never happens… please… happens all the time. And in timekeeping, the clerks in that office ensure that clock rings are correct. If someone does not clock back in from lunch, and then ends their tour, that is an error that has to be fixed before the end of the pay period, and in some districts must be done daily. Many employees don’t understand the importance of DAY 12 in the life of management, and in timekeeping as it relates to the prior pay period. There MUST be “something” in timekeeping, even if it’s LWOP, which IS a leave of sorts. There cannot be NOTHING, that being said, when employees fail to make correct clock rings, those discrepancies have to be fixed before Day 12, or the employee will not be paid properly. Let me give you another example: there are many casuals (oh, they read my column too), and some have not been paid since Christmas. Why? Because when they were hired, they were given different EIN numbers, so there are two or more EIN numbers in the system, with corresponding SSN’s, for the same employee. It’s a COMPUTER that runs payroll, therefore this is an ERROR, so they don’t get paid, again just another example.

I know the PO makes really bad choices when eliminating positions, but this one is really going to bite them back hard -stupid, stupid move. But it’s not like they are going to read my column, and say “hey Roseanne thinks we shouldn’t do this” and then change their mind… although I have been told, (of course I cannot say who), that many times they do read my column and either agree or say “thank God, she gone!!” I typically did not bite my tongue as a Manager, and all who know me, knew that. Do you all out there think that District Managers, or Postmasters or even Supervisor/Managers AGREE with what is going on, or what they are required to do? They don’t. But we were/are Management and we have orders to follow, just as craft does and a direct order my friends is STILL a direct order – period! And now on to retirement issues.

There are many changes that have taken place over the past few months as it relates to retirement. I am here to tell you the truth, it may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth. First, the changes that have taken place have to do with your last paycheck and earned annual leave when you retire. For years, like clock work, your last pay (or what ever few work hours you had in the last pay period) and your earned annual was paid to you on the payday after you left.

That last check is a paper check, not deposited into your checking account because there was/is no connectivity between you and the post office any longer after your retirement form 50 was/is cut. That last pay check was sent to your employing office for you to either pick it up, or have it mailed to you. I call that OLD SCHOOL. The brighter stars in the post office have decided that since “some employees” and I do mean “JUST some” have retired owing the post office money, and due to those few, they are now holding those last pay/annual leave checks approximately 30 days or so, to see if you owe them 15 cents! They are still paper checks, you still have to pick them up, but now you need to call (I would every Friday) to see if your last pay check is at your employing office for pick up. The employees that owe money range from window clerks who retire with “short” cash drawer, or if you retired in July, and used all 208 hours advanced to you in the beginning of the year (that if you retired in July you were only eligible for 104), or maybe were advanced leave (way too rare but possible) and used it, and then retired. OLD SCHOOL, in that case they would go to OPM, so that OPM could collect the money from the annuity to pay back the post office, or hold the paycheck until you pay the discrepancy, and then the check would be released to you. Now you have to wait an additional 2-3 weeks to get your last pay check. JUST delivering the message!! I am so sure no one told you that… but that is how it is now. Since I can remember, this was how last pay was handled. It gave you some breathing room in terms of money, waiting for the interim checks to begin from OPM. Many of you have spent years trying to gather sufficient leave, so that you would have a financial cushion when retiring, knowing that there is a delay in the “Interim Checks” from OPM. But at no time, has the delay been as bad as it is now. You have ONE office handling thousands of retirements, and the numbers of employees that work in RETIREMENT at HRSSC is a very small number, too small to tell you, without you all flipping out! But I suppose I don’t have to tell you that… how many of you really got that phone call back from them, when you left your phone number because no one answered the phone, and required you to leave a call back number??? No need for me to tell you… you all tell me the horror stories.

Another little known “effect” is the PTF and PTR issue. When Eagan, (where pay is “stored” for lack of a better word) transmits your pay information to OPM, your annuity is recalculated. This is why the NARCES Estimate, clearly says “estimate”. And for those employee’s who have spent years as PTF’s working “X” number of hours, that recalculation is called “pro-ration”. Many employees who think that their Gross Annuity is going to be one thing, and then it is “pro-rated” based on the actual number of hours worked, the pro-ration factor can reduce that gross annuity figure by 20% or more. By that time, it’s too late to do anything, you’re retired. There is NO fix for this, because in reality it’s not incorrect that they do this, what is shameful is you don’t know it until after you have retired! The same as there is no fix to give an “actual” High-3. That NARCES annuity estimate is a snap shot of your form 50 history for the last 3 years. If you read my columns, you understand what that means. (The majority of employees high 3 average salary is going to be the last 3 years, so the computer is set for the “majority” of employees). In the cases of PTF and PTR employees, they have to USE a base salary to calculate the employee’s Basic Life Insurance, so the yearly salary of the level and step is used for that Basic Life Insurance calculation. But that “yearly salary” may not be what the yearly salary is for a PTF or PTR who’s bid job is a 36 hour work week. This is another reason why PTF employees cannot simply get an annuity estimate… you all have heard… “because it has to be done manually”.

I stop here, because I had my retired Postmaster husband read the above, and needed me to explain this to him… therefore, I had to come back and redefine what I am saying; so obviously, it needs better clarification.

Let’s say that you and a co-worker are hired off the same hiring worksheet (because in reality..that is where everything begins, your score on the exam), and if are hired on the same day, you have the same EOD date, but are ranked in order (score order from the HWS (based on your test score, which is what determines if you get a “bid” or not, when both of you have the same date, thus your standing on the seniority roster)).

For ease of understanding what I am trying to explain, Employee #1 (scored 100) and EOD date is 1/1/1986 Ranking #1. Employee # 2 (scored 99) and EOD 1/1/1986 Ranking #2. Both of those employees are hired for the same office; both are PTF’s. Employee #1 gets 40 hours per week, Employee #2 gets 36 hours per week. Retirement contributions are a percentage of the wages!! So Employee #1 pays MORE into retirement because that employee has a higher wage (due to more hours) than Employee #2, does; which the USPS matches what the employee pays. (Typically, CSRS is 7.14% and FERS is 1%). If you have worked less than 40 hours per week, the annuity estimate is calculated based on the level and step, and not about the wages, or contributions paid, but on simply your level and step, a figure they use so they can calculate the Basic Life Insurance.

When OPM reviews the pay records, would Employee #2 (who has paid LESS into retirement, and the PO has paid less) have the same annuity as Employee # 1? NO. So, you say, yea, but that was years ago… true, but all of it comes into play. You will say, I thought it was calculated based on my High-3, that also is true, YOUR H-3 salary… actual salary. So the annuity estimate is not always about your wages, it’s just that, an estimate (based on your level and step). Now, at the end of your career, or close to it, you take a PTR job with 32 hours per week… did you really think that taking a PTR job was not going to affect your money in retirement?? Of course it will, negatively, again because your annuity estimate is based on step and level, and not actual hours. You may be a Level 6 Step O, or Level 2, Step O, and the annuity estimate reflects the Form 50’s…but the wages (thus the deposit into your retirement fund) will be the determining factor of what your retirement will be, after OPM gathers all the wage data from Eagan. They do look at higher level, another misunderstood faction. Higher level is reviewed in “blocks of 3 years”!! Not singularly. If you have higher level for 6 months, 6 years ago, that is not going to count, because the last 3 years (even with that 6 yrs ago higher level) will not be higher than the last 3 years, at least not generally.
Moving on… if you are retiring on January 31st and your telephone session is at the end of January or in some cases in February… doesn’t that tell you something!! So much for the “sending your retirement 3 months in advance… so how’s that working as it related to the early out… NOT. Like I said in the beginning, this was not going to be pretty.

I have a few Q&A’s for you:

Q 1. Roseanne, I have been retired for 3 months and I have not received anything from OPM… no money, no letter, nothing. How do I know that I am retired and the paperwork was sent in for me. Thanks, JL

A 1. Hi JL, The first thing is to attempt to go into liteblue, postal ease. If you are able to access your information, you are still on the rolls. If you are not, then at least the retirement Form 50 was cut. But in that case, and you did not say, you should have received your Form 50 Retirement. If you have that form 50, then you are OFF the rolls, but that is the extent of it so far. OPM is overwhelmed with retirements right now to the tune of about 24,000. I imagine its pretty busy up there. The closer you sent in your retirement to the drop dead date, the longer this process will take for you to begin receiving communication from OPM and of course ultimately retirement money. Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne, Thank you for taking the time to care enough about the rest of us still here and write the column, it is a breath of fresh air for many of us. Sorry about your computer problems and hope you are able to continue writing to us and keeping us informed on retirement. I do have one question, why is it that we have to call and talk with a retirement counselor over the phone that does not speak to us as individuals, but more as a group? Many of us in our office talked about how limited the information is that we get on the phone and are as confused or more so after this session. Carol

A 2. Hi Carol, First you are welcome, just call it a labor of love for my fellow postal employees. As far as the retirement session, this is a money saving venture for the post office. When you consider that we had 100 districts and each had a Personnel Office, with staffing that was based upon the size of that particular district. Using my office as an example, I had about 18 employees, and when HRSSC can into existence, we were allocated 2. Using a round number of 25 as an average (25×100= 2500). HRSSC began with a based of around 550, for ALL the HR functions. Those 550 are the replacements for the 2500… simple math. My opinion is and always has been, if you have worked for the organization long enough to retire, you deserve far more than a talk on the phone with 10 others from different states at the same time. They didn’t listen when I said this, obviously, but my opinion is still the same. This is way too important to not have face to face interaction with the last biggest financial decision you probably will make in your adult life. Just my 2 cents on that… but from my emails, there has not been ONE of you that think differently than I on this.

Till we speak again… Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A March 2013

Good Day Postal Employees!!!

From the emails I have been receiving all over the country, the “loss” of staffing as a result of the VERA for Clerks has taken a toll on everyone. Many of you out there have written just to tell me how difficult it has been; or that management is coming down harder on employee’s as it relates to discipline. Some of you have related specific incidents to me, that you have felt were unfair or just simply ridiculous. I understand everyone’s frustration, as I also understand the frustration of being a management employee. As I have written before, many times the course of action(s) taken by a Supervisor, Postmaster, Manager, or even a District Manager for that matter, may have had absolutely NO input on the decision(s) that they are required to carry out.

Many times in management, more than I can count, action plans are developed in Headquarters, pushed to the Area Offices, to be carried out by each of the Districts. It does not mean that everyone or even anyone agrees with the action plans that HQ has initiated. If you are given instructions to implement an office closing, or reduce staffing by not filling vacant positions, there is no real internal negotiations, it has been decided. Each district has it’s own set of unique differences and sometimes that could alter what a district does, but generally, when HQ “blesses it”, it is rolled out to the field. I say that to say, everywhere in the country, all Districts, Post Office’s, NDC, & Plants are feeling the pressure of job vacancies, timekeeping errors, higher than average discipline being issued, and high sick leave usage. I have been told this phrase a lot it’s the “NEW NORMAL”. This has been written to me many many times, so it must be what they say when you object to some new rule or way to complete a job function. I keep telling you all�..there HAS TO BE A FULL RESTRUCTURE, in order to gain control of our Postal Service.

Q 1. – Dear Roseanne,
I read your column every month and very much enjoy it. My husband just retired on Dec 1. I know that you say everything should work out that he should have received his terminal check two weeks later and then his first check from OPM the month following. Well he did not receive his terminal check until 1/4/13 and we are still waiting for his first OPM check as of 1/8/13. ASC did not forward his file to OPM until 12/31/12. Any idea when he could expect his first payment? Or why there was such a delay in processing. He turned in all his paper work starting in August and everything was in order. The letter from ASC said it could take 5 to 6 weeks to receive his first interim payment from OPM. I hope this isn’t the case, it’s very distressing that after 35 years they can’t even make sure he gets paid in a timely manner, thanks, DG

A 1. Hi DG, thank you and appreciate you reading the columns. I do my best to try to help folks during this time when it seems no one can tell you anything. I know one thing….I have NEVER WROTE that a retiree would receive his first check from OPM one following the retirement…that never happens. I have a time line that is pretty accurate, and 1 month is not in it! As far as the terminal check is concerned, sometimes they will look for any “outstanding” monies owed the PO before issuing the last check that includes all earned annual leave. This is new because of the many employees that do have outstanding balances such as window clerks having owed money due to shortages in their drawer, or advanced annual leave etc. The date of the terminal check has no real bearing on how fast OPM does the retirement. Once the retirement is sent to HRSSC, it is split and part of is goes to Eagan ASC for validation of service, salary history etc. Then they forward that information to OPM. BUT OPM has been working on the retirement from the point of time HRSSC sent it to them.

So let me give you a typical time frame for a December 1 retirement (last day of work was Nov 30th). And let me tell you this….that although his retirement date is Dec 1, just like Social Security….you are paid one month in arrears…so even at that, this December check would not even be due to you, until Jan 1. Of course and of course they are no where near done with the retirement.

Between Jan 15-22…first letter from OPM acknowledging retirement package
Between Jan 30-Feb 8 …second letter from OPM with the CSA or CSF number depending if employee was CSRS or FERS
Between Feb 15- 23 first INTERIM CHECK (about 80% of what the net check will be)\
Between Feb 28- Mar 19 second INTERIM CHECK (about 80% of what the net check will be)
April 1 Settle up check…the shortages from the first two interim checks, and one full check
May 1 First regular check
June or July you will receive a blue and white pamphlet that outlines the retirement as a whole and gives all the financial information relative to his retirement.

This time line is typical, meaning there is nothing outstanding about this retirement such as “higher level” in the past, or periods of LWOP, or unpaid military time. I hope this was helpful. Please let me know after you begin receiving this information as dated above how correct I am. I know that all the retirements I did this year, I use this time line, and all my clients call or email me to tell me how on the money I was with the dates. Roseanne

Response 1. Roseanne, Thank you for writing back to me about this issue. I must have seen that time line in one of the retirement blogs on PostalMag. Sorry for attributing it to you. Just to update you on my husbands pay status, fortunately for us it wasn’t as bad as you pointed out. His first interim check arrived on Jan 23 and his second arrived on Feb 1. So I guess we are on a regular pay status now, just waiting for OPM to catch up and pay him the full amount. Reading your column today someone said that the phone sessions were unhelpful. My husband watched the videos on Liteblue to help him fill out his paperwork and found they answered his questions sufficiently to fill it out correctly. You are also correct in stating that it takes at least a month to receive your final pay check. I wasn’t even looking for it to come to the office and was surprised when my supervisor said that it came in, there is so much they neglect to tell you about all of this. Wow!! You are providing a great service to all retiring postal employees who know about this site. Thank you so much for all you do! I am not looking forward to going through this myself in a few years. DG

Q 2. Hi Roseanne. I have been a sub for almost six years until recently. I became a regular rural carrier on January 12, 2013. I received my first paycheck last Friday and noticed that I am not under the retirement of 8-Fers like everyone else. I am paying almost three times more out of my check than everyone else. Under my retirement with FERS it shows a C FERS ARE and it shows FICA Code C next to it. What is this??? Is this a tax? I already am paying into social security. I can’t get ANY help from my postmaster or HR. I even spoke with someone with Accounting in Eagan. I just want to know if all that money they are taking out of my check will be there for me when I retire. Or will it be going towards taxes? We have a lot of issues at our post office in CITY/STATE. We have a new postmaster for about the last 3 or 4 months and so many of us are not getting paid. I still have not been paid for a route I worked on November 2nd last year. Others are missing for different days and routes of pays. One sub is owed 4 days of pay. Every pay period carriers AND clerks are not getting what they worked. I have been in constant contact with the union regarding the issues. It is very disappointing because I looked forward to working with the PO for so long and now to be going through the way we are being treated is very sad. My postmaster won’t even look at me when I am trying to have a conversation with her regarding my pay or other issues. She even puts her hand up at me…like talk to the hand and just walks away. It is so humiliating. Another thing, our United States Flag hardly ever gets put up anymore. I find that very disrespectful and unpatriotic. For the last two weeks at least, I have had to tell them that the flag is still not up. Last friday and monday it was not put up at all. I was told yesterday from a clerk “what’s it to you? why do you care?” Just an unbelievable response from someone that served in the military. So, I am just getting started in my retirement savings. I am 42 years old and could use any recommendations you might have regarding this. Thank you for your time towards helping all of us. I appreciate it very much. Have a blessed day! CM

A 2. Hi CM, First, once you receive a paycheck that shows you are a CAREER employee, then we can go through it. If that is the pay stub you are referring to in the email, THEN LOOK at the box that says “retire” and the code for FERS is 8, my first question: what do you have in the little teeny box that says retirement? Better yet, if you could scan me a picture of the pay stub, then I can review it to see what you are seeing and then let you know what all of it means. As far as your office not putting up the flag daily perhaps that was a direct order from the PM or from the District Office due to an incredible work load. However, I sincerely doubt that the actual 5 minutes it takes to put the flag up and 5 minutes to take it down, was coming from UPPER management. The public (customers) look for the flag as a symbol that it IS THE POST OFFICE they are at. I understand your concern, and why you care, as just as soon as 2 customers call that District Office, and tell them that the flag at the XYZ Post Office in ANYSTATE, USA you can believe that flag will be going up EVERY DAY after that. Roseanne

Q 3. Dear Roseanne, I have been a city carrier for the past 31 years. I was planning on retiring at the end of March but now with the talks of incentives should I wait awhile and see what happens? I have my blue book complete,and I am taking the retirement counseling at the end of February. Also, after I send my retirement blue book into HR there is no changing your mind…Correct? I don’t know what to do. Any advice you have would sure help. Thank You, E.

A 3. Hi E, It’s always a toss up! I retired with an early out in 2009, and about 8 months after I did, they did another early out for management, but this time with a 20,000 incentive, so you just never know. You also don’t know what will happen either in terms of work either, this is a very difficult time for the organization. Very few thought that the PO would attempt to stop Saturday delivery but they are doing their best to try. If they succeed, then the need for that T-6 carrier all over the country is it is possible from that perspective regarding an early out. But waiting on it totally depends on how badly you want to retire or see if they offer an incentive to retire, either way, it’s really about you and if you are ready to retire or not…with or without an incentive. And of course you can change your mind if you are retiring and it’s NOT an EARLY OUT. You have until the close of business on that day to rescind your paperwork…but my advise would be, if you are on the fence wait a month or so to see if you are really ready. Pulling it back is a HARDSHIP on everyone, YOU, YOUR DISTRICT, your supervisor, YOUR PAY!!! HRSSC, who has to undo everything they have already done…everyone. So be sure, and if not, give it a month or two…continue to work and see if you can live on the amount of money in retirement… then re-evaluate your decision. Roseanne

Q 4. I think your column is very informative. I visit PostalMag frequently and many people on the site are fans of your articles because you know what you are talking about; and your answers are very helpful for the people that are looking for the right answer. Thanks for your continued help with our questions. I am a letter carrier with almost 34 years of service counting my military time (which I bought back). All the gloom and doom of the articles on PostalMag and such makes me wonder about retiring. The article was about the Post Office running out of money and not being able to pay their employees. If such a thing were to happen and you were already retired, is it true that if anything happens to the Post Office, since you were retired, you would not be effected?? When you retire, are you now covered by the OPM and would you be locked in to get the pension money you retired on.. Thanks for any info you can give me because as you know, it is nervous time out here waiting for the Early Out shoe to drop for Letter Carriers.. Can you also elaborate on if you can access your Thrift Savings if there were an early out or would you have to wait for 59 1/2 years of age, thanks, AB

A 4. HI AB, First you would be, as I am, and all retirees, safe as it relates to your annuity, in particular CSRS…flat out!! I would think by your years (34) you were CSRS but since you bought back your military time AND because you refer to 59 1/2 and only FERS employees even go there, I know you are FERS. Do you realize that this 59 1/2 issue deals with just TSP (and not the OPM federal annuity) and typically for most employees, the 59 1/2 issue means NOTHING. — If you retire as a FERS employee and are at your MRA, you don’t have to wait until 59 1/2 to begin to collect on your TSP annuity, that is just misunderstood information. As far as the early out for carriers well I am doing a retirement for a Union President of the NALC next week, who is coming to see me from a different state. His term is up in October, so he is retiring in November. He said he didn’t think that an early out was on the horizon soon enough, (at least for him) and he was leaving in November and would be leaving earlier if not for his union position. That speaks volumes to me in terms of if an early out was coming for carriers soon. It would be at the very least “anticipated” by the NALC, and he, as the president of the NALC in his state, would be aware from a union perspective if this was close to happening. Roseanne

Q 5. Thank you Roseanne for your work helping all of us in the P.O. I am writing to you to help answer a question regarding the wording in VERA. It says ” Any age with 25 years of service” Does that mean a full 25 working years or anniversary date ?? I was hired 9/26/1987. I am working in my 25th year. Would i be eligible for a VERA ?? No need for you to respond quickly. This was a discussion i had with another employee. I guess you are settling a bet.. even though we didn’t make one. THANK YOU again for your monthly page in PostalMag. P

A 5. P, Let me say, “excellent question”! First just by the fact that you asked it in the way you did, leads you to believe there is always “fine printing” in nearly everything. When talking about working a “full 25 years” that is one issue or anniversary date, another issue. So why do I say that? The fact that many employees work in a “non-career” position prior to becoming full time has many employees confused as how those dates relate to overall retirement eligibility.

If you have 24 years and 10 months, you are not eligible to retire under early must have 25 full years by the “effective date of the retirement”. Meaning when the “VERA offer” comes out in Jan for April (example), and in January you have 24 years and 10 months..the “effective date is factored in to see WHO is eligible in example. Another example where the BIG confusion comes in is non-career years. Non career years can be credible for retirement eligibility BUT NOT FOR MONEY! This is the big issue with many employees. SO here is that example, an employee gets hired as a TE carrier and works for 3 years, then gets converted to a career PTF. His anniversary date is his CAREER EOD date, but those non-career years could bring him to 25 if during an early out he only has 22 career years. But they annuity would only be calculated on the 22 years. There are more scenario’s but I thought this one is the most common issue. Let me know if this is the answer you were looking for. Roseanne

Response 5. Thank you Roseanne, I won the bet!!! P

Till we speak again…Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A April 2013

Good Day Postal Employees!! This month’s column will have mostly Q & A’s as the format. I have been in Ohio for the past couple of weeks with serious family illness. I would like to sent a big “THANK YOU” to the Euclid Post Office (OH) for being so concerned and helpful with a piece of Express Mail, that I needed by 11:35 am. It was guaranteed for 10:00 am, & I was at the Post Office when they opened. They actually put up with me standing there in lobby (in tears), for over an hour waiting on this express mail, all without thinking I was deranged. And of course, many thanks to the Whitsett Post Office (NC) for their assistance in this family crisis.

To those of you that have written me this month, I know I have not been my NORMAL speedy responder, or have a “limitation of explanation” in my responses. Life has a way of throwing you curve balls when you least expect it�my husband calls them “variables”. Our 40 year old daughter has stage 3 breast cancer, and nothing has been normal since we had the news. So my time has been between there and here. And for those of you who wrote me..the responses were really difficult to “type” on just an iPhone. If it made no sense in my response to you, email me again and I will try to give more than an abbreviated answer. Again, I am learning a new normal of being prepared. I would humbly request that you would keep my family in your prayers during this very difficult time, we �.really appreciate it!

Q 1. I would like to point out an error you made on your report for march 2013; you said � …second letter from OPM with the CSA or CSF number depending if employee was CSRS or FERS�…the issue is a CSF number is only issued to a survivor. I point this out because people are quoting you. MC

A 1. Hi MC, First thank you for reading the column! AND thank you for pointing out my error and choice of words. After I read your email, I went back to look to see what I wrote and THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR POINTING THAT OUT. In my answer to the reader (which is what I take copy and paste into the newsletter) that answer had a continuation. In doing the cut & paste change the arrangement of the words, changed and some were gone, as in the case that CSF is for the survivor.

I say this to say..I am all about giving the right information, postal employees get too much BS and bad information and have for years, that I try to give them what is correct. I am grateful if someone finds something that they think is incorrect�.because doing this over 30 years, I have come to know when someone tells you something that they think is wrong, it’s best to recheck and not be so “I know what I am talking about” because things change quickly in regulations; sometimes that everyone does not have the access to see or was not explained enough for the reader to understand. My retired postmaster husband tells me all the time, that I assume too much, in terms of what I think everyone “should already know” just by being a postal employee. Many times when we both worked I would say “how in the world would you NOT know this, you are EAS/Management”�his reply was typically..I am not supposed to know that, you are�you are HR,. my job is to get my employees out on the street with no accidents and mail delivered on time�with a few other words “sprinkled” in there :). So MC YOU MADE the column for next month. Of course this will let everyone know that was not the complete information and will set that straight. Believe me, I do appreciate this email. Keep reading my friend!! Roseanne

Q 2. Hey Roseanne, I read your column on I am planning on retiring at the end of 2013 or beginning of January 2014. I am a CSRS employee, start date 01/1979. I am 66 years old, and started collecting Soc Sec benefits beginning January 2013. I want to have 35 years of service when I retire. I have right now about 2 months of sick leave on the books (370 hours). I have a couple of questions that I can’t seem to find out answers to. I am a Dist/window clerk. Recently promoted to Lead Clerk. I had 8 years of part time service from January 1979 until sometime in 1986 while I was working in KY. I worked in Louisiana Post Office before attaining full time status in LA. If I understand correctly, the part time status in the Kentucky will be credited as full time because it happened before the law changed in 1986, Is that correct?

Most of my ptf s hours were more than 40 hours per week…especially in Louisiana.

1) As I am collecting my full SS benefit now while I am still working, I can’t seem to find out when that amount will drop, and about what percent of my SS benefit will I be able to collect as a CSRS retiree when I am retired. Does the amount become less when I turn in my retirement papers, or the effective date of my retirement.??

2) Is it better to have your sick leave added to your retirement time or use before leaving the service. I have right now about 2 months worth of sick time credited to me(370 hours). By the time I leave at the end of 2013 or early 2014 I will have approx. 100 more hours if I use a minimum of my S/L during this year (dr appts).

3) will the part times hours I worked be credited for retirement as the number of hours I worked (mostly over 40 hours) (I know I don’t get overtime credited to retirement) or just because I was part time do I get a lesser amount of $$ for the time I was in Part time status?

4) Should I leave and retire at the end of December 2013 (chart says Dec 29th is best day to retire) under CSRS or should I wait for the first three days of January to leave? Most papers say that CSRS should retire the first 3 days of the month. Since my anniversary date if January 27th, do I need to leave after that date or will my 2 months of sick time count to make my 35 years of service. Sorry, these may seem to be dumb questions, but I can’t seem to find the answers to them anywhere. SG

A. 2 Hi SG, No question is dumb! When we are looking at retirement and our money and this being the probable last big financial decision we are going to make, you need to be armed with as much information as possible.

OPM is the deciding entity that will review your pay records (that are forwarded from Eagan, MN when you retire). There are calculations that are applied to the years of service seeing the percentage of full time versus part time and of course how many hours worked as a part time employee. All of it is credible and calculated. NOW!!! on question number 1. YOUR SS CHECK is going to be reduced DRAMATICALLY!! when you retire. It just is�I know you don’t like this�.nor does my husband! But when you have a CSRS retirement check, due to the Windfall Elimination, Social Security is reduced by about 40%, so expect a reduction when you retire. On question 2, you have enough sick leave really as a “protection”. The amount that you have won’t seriously increase your annuity, but it is not going to be lost either. So if you need it USE IT, but don’t just waste it, as it is added to the overall retirement. Again, it’s not enough to worry about “keeping” if you really need it. Question 3 was pretty much answered above. Question 4. My advice would be to retire on Jan 3. WHY? First because you can retire up to the 3rd of the month (as a CSRS ONLY!!!) and still be eligible for an annuity in January�but the 3rd is a Friday and gives you 1/2 of pay earning 2 hours of sick leave and 4 hours of annual. Understand when I say Jan 3 or even if it were Dec does not mean that you MUST BE AT WORK THOSE DAYS!! You can use annual or sick leave (in case you did not know). I do Air Mail retirements for those employees who are no where near me (in North Carolina); many from HQ just drive down to see me, and in the cases that I have done, so many even after reading the annuity estimate and review the blue retirement booklet feel like a deer in headlights. However if you are interested in me doing your retirement, please let me know and I will send you the information. I have done for many across the country, so I know it can be confusing and very intimidating. I hope this information has helped you understand a bit more. Roseanne

Q 3. Hi, I worked for the Post Office in one of the borough’s in New York for about 3 months during probation, in which I was cut a couple of days early of making the Union because they said they only needed one guy at the time which I thought was bull, but it’s in the past. This happened about 12 years ago my question is while I was working there I filled out pension forms & was wondering can I get back what I put in during those 3 months I was there ? And if I do, who do I call to receive these funds ? Sincerely, MO

A 3. Hi MO, It very much depends on if you were “actually a career employee” during that probationary period. Many times employees called Transitional’s or TE’s were hired, that HAD a probationary period associated with that occupation code BUT were NOT considered “CAREER” which is the optimum word that “tells the whole story”� Many District office’s all around the country did kinda their own thing on certain hiring issues, based on what “AREA” they reported to, told them to do�.so it really depends. If I had not been doing this for so long, I would look at the question and say “3 months to me” and then answer. But from what I see even the offices that had district personnel offices (basically forever�or pre-HRSSC) were staffed many times with the “good ole girls or good ole boys”, (who really didn’t know jackshit about Personnel) because it always seemed HR was an easy drop off place (or hiding place) when they put an EAS employee on “blast” or “punishment”, or some funky assignment that screams�.I PISSED SOMEONE OFF ! But it is worth a try, if you think you were career, then contact OPM at 1-888-767-6738 or go to the website to see the forms. If you go to go to “forms”, then “standard forms”, then SF 3106 and follow the instructions on the form. If you have any money, and it really couldn’t be much, but if you did, OPM would refund it, and bottom line, it’s yours. Roseanne

FOLLOW UP TO THIS QUESTION�.BY ME..ROSEANNE� YOU all could not have possibly thought that what I said in answer # 3, was frivolous or untrue about EAS employee’s being on “punishment” or blast, or even the famous “dipshit assignment” ..then you don’t know any EAS employees, that’s all. YEP�.I could tell ya stories, upon stories, upon stories!!!!!��but back to the Q and A’s.

Q 4. Hi Roseanne, Just read your Q & A that I always wait for each month. Even though husband just retired on Jan 31, you will always be a fountain of good information! You’ve always have helped us with questions we had before (old email address), I am his wife.

Just wanted to give you his timeline in case you were interested. As another example per say.

Jan 31 – Retired
Feb 19 – Full Terminal Check received (456 hours)
Feb 25 – Letter from OPM with Claim # (separate from password letter)
Feb 25 – Letter from OPM with Password (separate from claim # envelope)
Feb 26 – Letter from OPM regarding Interim Payment, the gross amt, less taxes, and the amt to be deposited (From 2-01 thru 2/30)
March 1 – First retirement check deposited!!

He got approx 78% of my estimated retirement amount. So far so good!! I too read postalmag blog & am hearing different stories.


We have a question that I think a lot of us are concerned about. Just wanted your thoughts. The PMG wants to pull us all out out FEHB. Including current retirees. Someone mentioned that he said specifically stated current retirees several times in his address or statement to congress. He wants us too! What do you think the chances of that happening are? We are very concerned. I, as a contractor work for several companies, I hear all the time how the employer has changed the health care plan & the employees rates, family rates have skyrocketed when they were told by the employer it would be better for them. One company I go to – actually took away the Kaiser Permanente HMO Plan that many of these employees of lower wages really liked & felt it the costs were very reasonable. I just don’t see how taking us out of FEHB will benefit anyone but the USPS. I appreciate your thoughts if you get the time. I know you are in high demand:):) IJ

A 4. Hi I, EXCELLENT!! I just love when my information bears out. When I wrote the time line that is in the column, I extend it out a bit. For each answer sometimes comes a “specific” date, based upon when the employee mails the retirement paperwork to HRSSC (that plays an enormous part in the time line dates). Based upon what you have written and the dates of your husband’s letters and money from OPM, that tells me the paperwork was in TIMELY!

Now on to the question of FEHB and the PMG wanting to pull the MONEY plug on FEHB. There is a huge difference between the PO and just another employer, as PO is a federal organization as you related one company took away Kaiser HMO. That being said, the number of federal retirees (postal or other fed agency) have their “employing agency” paying a large part (nearly 2/3rds) of the health premium to the carrier (BCBS; APWU: GEHA etc) each month.

In the case of the PO, they have to pay that monthly premium 10 years in advance. So�take BCBS for an example (104); the cost to the PO when that person retires is about $110 thousand UP FRONT, whereas other federal agencies pay it monthly. This is the BITCH of the post office, and I can understand it, but I also understand other surrounding issues of it that makes it not so horrible�meaning when folks turn 65, many just take Medicare Part B (because they think it’s going to be cheaper than FEHB (and it is) but the coverage is no where like FEHB) and then cancel the FEHB, and then the PO has a “CREDIT” of the money paid in advance. I say all that to say�right now I am NOT worried about it�BUT WHEN AND IF I DO WORRY, YOU CAN BEST BELIEVE I WILL BE “ATTACKING IT” IN MY COLUMN. You guys have a great and wonderful retirement, if he has gotten there, he like many of us, has the battle scars to prove it�and it is well deserved. Take care I, Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanna, I retired Jan. 31, 2013. Then 2 weeks later I received my last paycheck I picked up at PO. They didn’t have my 39 hours of annual on it. It is now March 10, 2013 still no annual. My question is whom do I contact about it or will it go to PO where I last worked? Thank you so much for your column every month. I really appreciate it a lot. Thank you!! F

A 5. Hi F, Your final “earned” annual leave check should be at your “employing” post office by now. I would call your former immediate supervisor /postmaster /manager/ OR even the timekeeping office, just to see if your check has come in. Again, understand that you are no longer employed by USPS. That means any monies owed to you will be a check that you have to pick up or be mailed – It will not be deposited into your account, as there is no longer an electronic connectivity between you and the post office. Roseanne

Q 6. Hi Roseanne, Myself and two co-workers attended a Retirement “session” at BIG SOUTHERN STATE a few months ago. We knew the guy was selling insurance, but we thought we would at least go and see what he would tell us. Much to our surprise we were the only three in the room! But then several clerks came in and he had to switch his attention to them because of their VERA. When he did talk to us he quickly mentioned something about a supplement until 62 if we retired at 56 with 30 years service. How does this work? Two of us are eligible for full Social Security benefits at 67 and not 62. And we are all FERS. (1) Age 51 w/26 yrs; (2) Age 51 w/28 yrs; (3) Age 60 W/26 yrs. Thank you so much for any help. D

A 6. Hi D, If you are FERS employee’s: 1. The Special Supplement is a “bridge” of money paid to (only FERS) to “supplement) a portion of the Social Security that you are not eligible for until 62)). AND 2. The supplement is calculated at around $33.00 per month X the numbers of years worked (not including military regardless if paid back or not). So if you retire w/20 yrs. the Spec Support is around $660.00 per month; 30 yrs. around $990.00 per month. THIS IS PAID ONLY UNTIL AGE 62!!!! Then you are to begin to collect your Social Security checks. I hope this has helped all you girls in “the peachy land”. I have had several clients drive from there to meet for a one on one face to face individual retirement session…. think about it! Roseanne

Till we speak again…Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A May 2013

Good Day Postal Employees!! I want to thank all of you out there in Postalmag world, for your continued prayers, well wishes and concern expressed for my daughter in her fight with breast cancer. We thank you for your prayers as we continue chemo, and this long road ahead.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of reading through a book that was sent to me to review; since I write a column with many references to retirement. The author James (Jim) Brass has written a book that I thought is really an eye opener, for those who are invested in TSP, or really any 401K type of entity. The book is titled “How to Make Sure Your Money Lasts In Retirement”. In doing retirements all over the country, I have seen figures in TSP from “are you kidding me” to “ARE YOU KIDDING ME”!! One of the questions I get many times is about TSP & how to “figure” the money; or how much is ENOUGH!!. This book gives ranges from $200,000 and higher, W/and without COLA additives and many different percentage return on investment figures. I recommend that you read this well written book that gives tips and information about your money in retirement. In the back of the book it says Made in the USA, Charleston, SC 11 October 2012. The author may be contacted at This is one of those books, written well, understandable, that may help open your eyes to financial reality.

Q 1. Dear Roseanne, I am becoming close enough to retirement to begin to figure out that everyone I ask or talk to about retirement has a different story. I have called our local district office and asked to speak to someone that could explain what and how much life insurance I will have when I retire. They told me to call shared services in North Carolina. I did call, but I could not get any answers to my question about life insurance, and what I would have in retirement. When I got my last paycheck, it looked like the amount they are taking out of my check has doubled. If this insurance is a good deal, then I will keep it. But if it’s not should I cancel it? I am FERS with 28 years and 3 years military. I am looking for an early out, like everyone else. I would appreciate any opinion you have on this. I have read your column for a couple of years, and know someone you spoke to on the phone. BTW, he was amazed you called him�Thanks for your time, LST.

A 1. Hi LST, I hear ya!! That is why I write this column�.it can be information overload; So much (relative to personnel matters) is left for you to decide, with no real understanding of what you are choosing (or why). And as I always say, everyone is a little different. There is no 1 real answer fits “all” every time. It really begins with when you are hired and what insurance options you took during (orientation / probationary period) what I call “the formative years” in the post office. So strictly speaking on FEGLI Insurance Options, A – B – C, the premiums are based on your age. These insurance (Options A,B,C are NOT the “benefit”, as it relates to retirement �benefits�), as you are paying full price�.or based on your age. Now understand that when you were hired, no matter what was your health condition, you had life insurance coverage (without a physical). Your benefit insurance is the Basic Life Insurance (in which you don’t pay for, and never have, as an employee). You didn’t say but that BIG $$ change, means to me you turned 60, recently. So now, what do you? Right�’Well, KNOW THIS FIRST�..NO ONE takes OPTION B into retirement unless they are very very sick. Every 5 years, the premium nearly doubles. So this is a very expensive insurance as you age, BUT, really has been expensive all along.

What do I mean by expensive all along?�because all the time we could have been paying on an insurance (all the years while we were young and generally healthy, we could have gotten a life insurance at a “decent” rate. Now we are older so the rate for even a 100G policy can be pretty expensive. Depending on health issues, some potential retirees choose to keep the expensive Option B due to health and knowing any life insurance could potentially be as expensive as Option B can be. You may NEED to keep Option B, or choose another policy. But read below before you do that�.

You asked for my opinion so here it is: I look at it this way “you don’t want to be insurance rich and monthly poor”. Insurance is for burial expenses�not paying off a house; not sending a grandkid to college�but for final death expenses, so that is not a financial burden on your family. So WHEN you look at it that way, really only Basic Life insurance (which is the best deal) is what you should take into retirement. If you are married, the spousal annuity should be sufficient�(the typical response I get for having Option B is so the “spouse” has something to live on). If you do your retirement correct, the spouse will have something to live on. I hope this has helped given you some real “options” as it relates to FEGLI Options A, B, and C. Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne, I’m just a little confused about the supplemental social security. I am a 51 years old and under FERS with 27 and 8 months of service. If I would retire this year would I still receive the supplemental when I reach 56 years of age? Also I do believe that I have read in the past that if early out is offered (fingers crossed) that I would receive the supplemental right away and not wait until age 56? Thank you for any info on this. It is so important to know what will all be available with such important retirement decisions and I am so thankful to have found you!

Also more importantly I have been praying for you and your family that your daughter will be ok. MGM

A 2. HI MGM, Thank you for the prayers concerning my daughter. I got back to Ohio yesterday, so I am here sitting with her, as I read my emails. I am so grateful for the prayers of those who read my column. Let’s talk about the supplemental payment from FERS (not Social Security). There is an eligibility issue related to the Special Supplement. You must meet the criteria to even be eligible for it. In the example above, you are not eligible. Again, never a one stop answer fits all because mostly, and not being funny, you really don’t know HOW to ask the question or even the knowledge sometimes to know a question needs to be asked.

SO here is the skinny:

Regular Retirement (age MRA & AT LEAST 30 yrs of service; OR age 60 & at least 20 years of service; OR age 62 w/5 yrs of service. ELIGIBLE FOR SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT

MRA + 10 Retirement You must have at least 10 years of credible federal service AND be AT LEAST at your MRA. NOT ELIGIBLE FOR SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT �.EVER!

Disability Retirement You must have at least 18 months of credible federal service & BE APPROVED BY OPM based on medical issues. NOT ELIGIBLE FOR SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT..EVER!

Early out Retirement You must have 25 years of credible service at any age; OR age 50 w/ at least 20 years of credible service. ELIGIBLE FOR SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT IF AT MRA, IF NOT AT MRA, WHEN YOUR TURN YOUR MRA YOU GET THE SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT

MANY TIMES, folks try to help each other out by giving them information that they know someone had told them. And I understand trying to help, who wouldn�t. But each case is “typically unique” in itself�sort of an oxymoron. Just change a few things in your email and I could have given you a totally different answer. But now you got the real information and can make a better informed choice, should you be presented with the possibility of an early out. The type of retirement you were talking about was the MRA+10, and that is such a “rip-off”, you practically get nothing after the age reduction, AND really only makes sense under very harsh issues, and so I am hoping that is not the way you were going�TRUST ME ON THIS!! This is why I write a column�to warn folks of the choices they are given, could very well not be what is best for you, but you wouldn’t even KNOW it until after you did it and retired. Take care, Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne! First let me say that my family is keeping your family in our prayers for as long as it takes. My question has to do with retirement. If I apply for a disability retirement from the postal service can I also apply for S.S. disability? Thank you D

A 3. Hi D, First ****IF YOU ARE A FERS employee***: you MUST file for Social Security disability retirement in “conjunction” with filing for FERS disability. If you look on the retirement form (SF 3107), you will see where it “identifies” that SS disability must be filed, (and they want proof from SS..either the “confirmation number” if you go “on-line” to file or paperwork). Additionally when you file for FERS Disability Retirement, the form SF3112 must be done in conjunction with the SF 3107. If you are a CSRS employee, there is NO requirement to file for SS disability because the “theory” is that if you are a CSRS employee, you don’t have enough SS credits to EVEN apply for SS Disability. Roseanne

R 3. Thank you very much Roseanne !!

Q 4. Roseanne: I retired January 31, 2013. My question is on the FERS supplement. What is the waiting time on this supplement? Do I need to fill out any other paperwork for this or do I just wait till I hear from OPM? My annuity interim amount is around $900.00 a month after taxes. Thank You RLA

A 4. Hi RLA, First the Special Supplement has it “own” little time frame going on. Provided you are eligible for the Special Supplement ( and I will assume you are for the purposes of responding), the supplement seems to come in about the time that your retirement is completed (that would be around 70-90 days). OPM is the initiator of the Special Supplement, and they ARE who PAYS you the special supplement. Any papers to be filled out will be generated to you by OPM. And yes, it is sort of a waiting game�.but eventually all the kinks are worked out and you will begin to receive your special supplement. And remember this will stop the month and the year your turn 62. Roseanne

Q 5. Am hoping that your daughter is doing well…Illness of this magnitude is SO hard to deal with (esp being your own child). I had FMLA for 15 years, and of course it’s been denied due to new “restrictions”. Can deal with that. My question is: can I call in sick everyday for a month (prior to retirement) and not be penalized? I would of course, not go to work, so would not have to provide a Dr’s statement. Will this harm me in anyway? From what I understand, I’ll be paid for my sick leave when I retire, so why not take it BEFORE I retire? Same, same, in other words. Of course, I don’t want to jeopardize my retirement…Please advise (when you are able). Bless you for the service you provide. MT

A 5. Hi M I am so glad you wrote before you did all this!!! Wow�.if I could tell you how many times I hear an email like yours��.THAT IS SO PROFOUNDLY WRONG it makes me shake!! Now sometimes you guys get your words screwed up, and mean something entirely different than what you wrote�But what you wrote is just flat out WRONG!! You are NOT PAID FOR YOUR SICK LEAVE����.EVER��.EVER��EVER!! Your sick leave if CSRS is calculated and then (+ADDED) to the overall years, months and days that you have worked (credible service) in the government. Those years, months and days are used to calculate your monthly pension, annuity (whatever you want to call it). If you are a FERS employee and you retire prior to 2014, what the sick leave balance is calculated and then reduced by 50%, and then those years, months and days are used to calculate your monthly annuity. In 2014 the sick leave will be applied at 100% just like CSRS. So that part is cleared up. What you DO get paid for is your EARNED annual leave (not sick leave). Nothing over 440 for a craft and 560 for EAS. Meaning if you carried over leave, then spent an entire year and did not use any annual leave, and then the next year retire and still not use leave, you still will only be paid for what the maximum..(there are a few caveat’s to that..but that is the most “typical information”.

So with that being said about sick leave and annual leave�.let’s really talk about what you are trying to do. You want to USE your sick leave for one month prior to your retirement. I assume you know you have 20 days�(or need 20 days of sick leave for a whole month�you will be able to reduce that number if the month you retire has any holidays. So 20 days is also equal to 160 hours� ALL THAT BEING SAID�.YOU ASKED AND I AM GOING TO TELL YOU�DON’T TRY THAT!! At least not the way YOU want to�.you’re leaving right, your are retiring, so!!!�spend the CO-PAY!!! YOU know you must get a doctor to “affirm” you have�.I don’t care, whatever your sickness is, if you are going to try to burn SL. To think that you would try to just roll out�no call in; no doctor�s note; nothing�they will EAT YOU UP!! Calling in everyday is just going to piss them off, and they have the RIGHT to discipline you, which could “delay” your retirement moving at a normal pace. I am telling you this from my perspective (wearing the hat) as “Manager of HR”, which is why you should take my advice, I am right, at least from a management view. As a fellow employee, future fellow retiree, and as Roseanne�you have worked too long to get TO retirement�do it the right way�I do know what I am talking about. Thank you for your prayers for my daughter.

Till we speak again…Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A June 2013

Good Day Postal Employees! Before I say anything, I must thank all of the readers with gratitude for the outpouring of prayers for my daughter. We may be turning a corner this month in this journey, and I will ask that you continue your prayers and know we as a family are very grateful.

Just Sayin’ � I wish I had a dollar for each time I heard that a postal employee say, that they couldn’t file for disability retirement, because what is wrong with them is/was not an on the job injury.

Q 1. Hi Roseanne, I’m under the CSRS, I’m thinking about retiring Oct 1, 2013. I will have 38 years plus 2 years military (that I paid back very early in my career). I have conserved my sick leave my entire career and I have, or will have about 2250 about the time I retire. I have 285 hours of annual leave that I have carried over from last year, plus what have been advanced to me this year. That gives me 41+ yrs. What do you suggest as a good retirement date for tax purposes. Is it better to retire on Jan 1, 2014 so the annual leave is paid in the new year? Really appreciate your outlook on this. DF

A 1. Hi DF. The first thing I gotta say, RETIRE!!! You have enough (!!) years. But for someone who does retirement “regularly” I am pretty positive you will make more retired than you do working�.for a variety of reasons!!! If you are in the EAS pay scale, then waiting until Oct 1 is a date all CSRS employee’s (that were in Mgmt. knew to use. Why�.because it’s after the FY (fiscal year). If you are a PCES employee, the terms of your employment have bearing on the answer. If you are a craft employee then any time is OK. So let’s address the Jan 1, 2014 versus Dec 31, 2013�.what is the real difference�none, timing, end of week, end of pay period, bottom line none�(again as a CSRS employee�FERS employee’s don’t have the luxury of retiring the first 3 days of the month as does CSRS).

What the question really should be is�.IS WHEN you will be paid for your “earned annual leave”�.that is the real question, or I should say the real issue”. If you have MEGA earned annual, that you have been a-planning; a-plotting and saving for this “great escape”, to be paid out to you�you would like to have that check in the year of 2014. If you retire on Oct 1, then your annual will be paid and calculated into your 2013 earnings. If you retire Dec 31, then the AL check is going to come in 2014 (same as would if you retired Jan 1 2014); and thus may be able to reduce your tax liability until 2015.

Q 2. Hi Roseanne,

I’m glad I discovered your page. My husband is very sick and we are working our way through the disability nightmare paperwork. I just received the Life insurance coverage worksheet and am totally confused when it comes to Options A, B, and C. He currently has all 3 options. When it comes to Option B, how do I choose between No Reduction or Full Reduction? He currently has 5 X for this. I’m afraid he will not live to the end of the year, and I want to be prepared financially, but don’t know if it’s worth keeping Option B at 5 or if I should lower the number or drop it completely. The same goes for Option C. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, M

A 2. Hi M, This is such a sensitive subject. If you have the paperwork you describe, that means that your husband has sent the first portion of the disability retirement package (SF 3112); and in turn HRSSC has sent you the Large Blue Retirement package. I would need to know if your husband has had his session on the phone with HRSSC for this disability retirement? Once you answer that, (that will let me know where you are in the process). I can then better provide a little guidance, or if interested in me completing the entire retirement paperwork via my Air Mail Retirement. This is TOO important of a decision to NOT KNOW exactly what you are doing, regardless if you use me or not. Roseanne

Q 3. Hi, Roseanne, I am a city letter carrier, and have been one since I started at the post office. I am 54 years old and I have worked for 24 years. Things have been getting very difficult at work. The nonsense that they are writing Letters of Warning, Suspension with no pay. The union has done nothing to even address the problem with management. The managers and some supervisors have no clue about mail delivery�Roseanne it’s a mess out here. So my question is if I am fired, will I lose all my pension (annuity)? And thank you for all the help you provide us postal workers who really rely on you to tell us what is going on and how to make it happen. TJ

A 3. Hi TJ, Anyone can get fired and lose their retirement..anyone! Your best bet is to try to work towards your MRA, and no doubt that’s at least another 4 or 5 years away. Many emails that I get are very much like yours�.looking for a light at the end of the tunnel and hoping for another early out. Let me say this to you�we all, every postal employee has had their “moment in the sun” with the post office�.some of us, have had even more than 1 moment in the sun to be real about it!!�I say that to say hang in there. Retirement is SO WORTH it�it is! As long as you are NOT ill, you can do another 4 or 5 years�you can!! You have done 25�.you can do a few more�I will tell you this�don’t piss off your TSP�don’t borrow on it�don’t do anything other than fund it! Make a 5/4 year calendar�(I did�when I had precisely 5 years to go� I didn’t know they would offer an early out�but I made a calendar and marking each day off, coming closer to retirement helped. Hang in there !! Roseanne

Q 4. Roseanne, Can a postal employee move their TSP money to an independent investor before retirement? If you can, is there any kind of a penalty for doing so? When I do retire will my military disability be stopped? I asked this last question once before but I think you misunderstood or I mis-communicated, I think you thought I had a postal disability as well as my military disability. I am a 30% disabled veteran so it’s not much but want to be prepared if I am going to lose it at retirement. One other question, I get my retirement pay based on my high 3 years salary averaged out correct? So how much percentage is that figured at? Let’s ballpark 60K. I have 4 plus years before I reach my MRA but I still hope for a Vera before then and want to be as prepared as possible. Thanks so much for you help and time!! MA

A 4. Hi MA, You can take your money out of TSP�you will be penalized and taxed but you can. And remember, that while employed, the postal service has MATCHING CONTRIBUTIONS.!!, and if any, and I mean any financial person out there that “suggests” that you shouldn’t fully FUND TSP and your employer is matching the funds�. RUN LIKE HELL!!! I don’t think they mean you any good�.think about this�if you do move your money�even if you do, the PO is STILL putting 1% into your TSP..just saying. As far as your VA disability, that will not change at all because you are retired. You don’t lost any of your VA disability check because you are a federal retiree. Think about it�you receive the VA disability while you are working, so being retired has no effect on it either. It is an approval of injuries/illness as a result of your military employment. You deserve that based upon your medical information provided to VA, and retiring does not change that. An easy way to figure is to take the number of years you worked so if it is 30, then it’s 30% of your high 3 average salary. If you worked 42 years, it’s 42% of your high 3 salary. Whenever you get those 4 years, and I will assume that gives you 30 years, then you are looking at $60,000. X 1%= $600.00. Then $600. X 30 (yrs) = $18,000 divided by 12, gives you $1500.00 (monthly gross & before a spousal annuity factored in). Reduced by taxes, & health/life insurance’s, that is only ONE of your components of your retirement. You still will have either pre 62 the Special Supplement, or at 62 Social Security, and TSP money, whatever choices you make with your TSP. I hope this has cleared up any misunderstanding that may have occurred in the other email you referenced. Hang in there!! Retirement is so worth it! �Roseanne

Q 5. Hi I am S, and I retired Jan 31, 2013. I had expected a small annual leave check for 32 hours. I did not received it. Should I have gotten paid for these unused hours ?

A 5. Hi S, Lets be clear first before you do anything. Did you really have 32 (EARNED) hours on Jan 31st? Look on your last pay stub to see what it shows as “earned”�because it’s only the earned annual leave you get paid for. You don’t say what your position is, but regardless if window clerk, rural carrier, all positions can have “financial issues” that would put an employee in a status of “owing” the post office money when they retire. That is why no longer are the annual leave checks automatically paid 2 weeks after retirement (ahem�like clockwork they were!!)�they are now looking to see if you owed them 15 or 20 cents. They are searching the data base(s) to make sure you don’t owe THEM. Ok, so lets say you legitimately have this 32 hours of annual leave, you have checked your stubs and you KNOW you don’t owe them any money�CALL your former office where you worked, PDC, post office, station/branch�wherever “checks are sent to” to see if a check is there. Understand that this is a PAPER CHECK that is typically mailed or picked up. With this being the middle of May and you retired the end of January, yea,nWAY TOO LONG!! � Something is wrong.. It’s either, you are NOT owed any annual leave; OR you owe them money; OR, the check was cut and sitting in the desk of a supervisor at your old office, so I would call them first. AND if the check is not there I would try the timekeeping office in your particular district or area because THEY would know where those checks are/were. Roseanne

R 5. Yes there was a total of 32 hours of annual on my last check. I was a window clerk. If I owed the Postal Service any money would they not have given me some information about my debt. Thank you for your response. I will call the office to check on it.

Q 6. Hi Roseanne! Is the FERS supplement subject to the same income limits that social security recipients are subject to? I always enjoy reading your column. I hope your daughter is doing well. Thank you, RP?

A 6. Hi RP, If you look at the special “supplement”�it really means just that � supplement. Supplementing (for) your social security (payment) until you reach age 62. When looking at it from that perspective�then it makes sense that YES, there is income limits associated with the special supplement. Understand this – always, when you are dealing with $$ that the federal government is “paying” you, and there is a “limitation” on earnings, or just some “special criteria” associated with that money, they will ALWAYS FIND OUT � always – and you will always owe them back. Take care, Roseanne

So why did I “go there”? Because this is a prime area where I see retiree’s getting into financial trouble. Well for one, look at the retiree’s that went with this last early out (w/incentive), and consider the number of those that were FERS employees. They are eligible for the below: (Provided @MRA )

1. FERS check
2. Special Supplement check (if at MRA) (or will when reach MRA)
3. Incentive Payment
4. TSP
5 Part Time job (anywhere,Except a Federal Employer).

So all the above is doable, but I would make sure that I do this first: 1. FIND OUT from OPM or SS what is the precise about of money you can make without it affecting your Spec Supp or SS check. (Everyone is not the same�.age plays a part in this too). 2. If you do decide to work, be very selective about working part time, because you need to look at the dollar figure and divide it by 52, to know how much you can earn every week. Although, even if working a part time job within the “earnings limitation” and then if married… And for some added fun, should you live in a state that does NOT tax federal pensions; then have part time earnings, that make it unbearable when filing taxes at the end of the year. The moral of THIS story, don’t work anywhere else unless you crunch the numbers first � KNOW if you are losing anything. � – I guess my words would be “IF working reduces ANY of your retirement benefits�why in the world would you!” DO YOUR HOMEWORK, and factor in any incentive money in your effort to minimize your tax liability.

However, that is not to say that a second job is not a GOOD thing. It’s a great thing for some! Just don’t make too much money. Retirees that are “our” age, are just a perfect employee for part time jobs. We don’t need health benefits, we damn sure don’t want 40 hours a week, we are excellent workers (have to be�we retired) we are former federal employees (that also helps in establishing integrity). It could help transition you over from the “hyper-drive” mode that you’ve done for the last 30 or so years at the post office, to a more mellow “doing something” mode, instead of just STOPPING altogether. It can be a “interesting” transition, that maybe a part time job could bridge a gap. In a few columns ago, I shared that the first 6-8 months of retirement can be a roller coaster ride itself, and it takes time to really transition into retirement. YOU just got to find that magical number that if you want to work, so that you actually don’t lose any money.

Till we speak again, Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A July 2013

Good Day Postal Employees!

This column will begin again, with a sincere thank you for all of the prayers and concern, expressed for my daughter. We are on a second phase of this horrible disease cancer, and this is not an easy journey, at all.

This month’s column and what you see below has me speechless!! I would like to begin this column by actually showing you something I felt was very disturbing, and a brand new “feature” at this website. See if you caught what floored me when I read it.

While on the phone this past weekend, I was looking at the TSP website, to get an overall picture of how much of an “annuity” would be. As I had given her the dollar figures of FERS and Special Supplement, I proceeded to to the TSP website, clicked on the icon I ALWAYS DO. Something just looked different, and to my utter shock�.. in between the two blue i’s reads “TO WHAT AGE TO YOU EXPECT TO LIVE?” This to me was appalling�that a government calculator, a way to simply figure out what one component of your retirement money will be �asks YOU, basically, give them an idea of when you think you are going to die�they didn’t even ask you to ballpark it�they want just one age�are you kidding me!! As a federal (former) employee, this new change to the TSP calculator will do precisely what the change was intended to do�frustrate you so you don’t even bother to try to figure it out.

AND you won’t complain, won’t let your voices be heard on how ridiculous and confusing this new calculator is (if that is what you want to call it) to determine your monthly annuity. Oh, providing you give THEM an age you think you will die. I guess I am wondering if you are seeing a pattern here. More lack of information, less knowledgeable people to ask. Now – you don’t really have a on-site personnel office, and the so called “tools” that are “on-line” as they say, have made the process of even trying to research impossible. If I had not been going into the TSP website for years, I wouldn’t have known just how drastically it has changed in this ONE AREA!!!! I would hope that this does not go unchecked. It’s a very easy way to be BS’d about YOUR money�.Yea�.Its YOUR MONEY!! This is not information (TSP) that will be discussed on a “HRSSC retirement session”, nor will Social Security, Medicare or the Special Supplement�.because you if don’t care enough to complain, care enough to know if your MONEY IS RIGHT, when it comes time to retire you may have wished you would of��just sayin’

Q 1. Good Evening Roseanne, My husband just retired as of 5/31/2013 and we haven’t heard from OPM yet, but I have a question. Is our Life Insurance Benefits, Dental and Medical Insurance still in force until premiums are taken out of our first OPM check? Thank for your help. VT
A 1. Hi VT, Everything WILL transfer over providing you filled out all the paperwork, which was sent to you in the blue retirement booklet. Your Health Benefits AUTOMATICALLY transfer UNLESS you do something to stop it. Life insurance continues based upon what you selected during the retirement PHONE session w/HRSSC (& on the form SF2818). That form was in your big blue retirement booklet. Hopefully, as tell everyone, you made a copy of your retirement paperwork. Check in those copies to see what you selected for life insurance into retirement, and congratulations on retirement!!! Roseanne

Q 2. Roseanne…the lady with all the answers. I retired in January…all my papers are in order..everything is going smooth. I have a question about my incentive check. The union stated they would be deducting social security tax on this check. Looking over the check stub i see no deduction for fica. I ‘m confused did they make a mistake or am I missing something? Who can I call to find out?

A 2. Hi, The first thing would ask is�.where is/was the check from? OPM; Postal Srvc? I say from the Postal Service, I would inquire with other retirees to see if they had SS deducted from their checks ( and I suspect no). But you wanted the lady with the answers�so here is my take on this: Knowledge of the system(s) and how they work, my 30+years in this, and intuition tells me flat out NOT�.they would not be taking SS out of the incentive checks..but you probably would like to know why I say that. Because it’s too much work to segregate FERS and CSRS retiree”s as only FERS employee’s have Social Security taken from their check..CSRS employee’s/retiree’s didn’t and don’t pay into the Social Security fund. They are only going to do what takes as little as “input” as possible. This is the same reason why OPM does not take out state taxes out for those retiree’s who live in state’s that tax federal annuities�.It’s now really YOUR responsibility. Look at it this way, the federal government is NOT going to set up state tax’s for all 50 states.

Q 3. I sent this to your yahoo address: Hello Roseanne, I retired from the Postal service on 06-01-2013, as a FERS employee. On June 6, 2013 I went and picked up my final check, (they would not direct deposit it). My earned annual leave balance wasn’t included on that check. The supervisor who gave me the check told me that it would be issued at a later date. The retirement paperwork that I received from Human Resources stated that my earned annual leave balance would be included on my final check until some was amiss. I am wondering what the heck the deal is. Any experience regarding this situation? Thank you in advance..

A 3. Hi – I wrote about this same exact issue, let me quote from my article in the February 2013 column of postalmag: “There are many changes that have taken place over the past few months as it relates to retirement. I am here to tell you the truth, it may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth. First, the changes that have taken place have to do with your last paycheck and earned annual leave when you retire. For years, like clock work, your last pay (or what ever few work hours you had in the last pay period) and your earned annual was paid to you on the payday after you left. That last check is a paper check, not deposited into your checking account because there was/is no connectivity between you and the post office any longer after your retirement form 50 was/is cut. That last pay check was sent to your employing office for you to either pick it up, or have it mailed to you. I call that OLD SCHOOL. The brighter stars in the post office have decided that since “some employees” and I do mean “JUST some” have retired owing the post office money, and due to those few, they are now holding those last pay/annual leave checks approximately 30 days or so, to see if you owe them 15 cents! They are still paper checks, you still have to pick them up, but now you need to call (I would every Friday) to see if your last pay check is at your employing office for pick up. The employees that owe money range from window clerks who retire with “short” cash drawer, or if you retired in July, and used all 208 hours advanced to you in the beginning of the year (that if you retired in July you were only eligible for 104), or maybe were advanced leave (way too rare but possible) and used it, and then retired. OLD SCHOOL, in that case they would go to OPM, so that OPM could collect the money from the annuity to pay back the post office, or hold the paycheck until you pay the discrepancy, and then the check would be released to you. Now you have to wait an additional 2-3 weeks to get your last pay check. JUST delivering the message!! I am so sure no one told you that… but that is how it is now. Since I can remember, this was how last pay was handled. It gave you some breathing room in terms of money, waiting for the interim checks to begin from OPM. Many of you have spent years trying to gather sufficient leave, so that you would have a financial cushion when retiring, knowing that there is a delay in the “Interim Checks” from OPM. But at no time, has the delay been as bad as it is now. You have ONE office handling thousands of retirements, and the numbers of employees that work in RETIREMENT at HRSSC is a very small number, too small to tell you, without you all flipping out! But I suppose I don’t have to tell you that… how many of you really got that phone call back from them, when you left your phone number because no one answered the phone, and required you to leave a call back number??? No need for me to tell you… you all tell me the horror stories”. So that is what I wrote in February, and this information still holds true. Roseanne

Q 4. Hi my name is H. and my Dad has been retired from the Post Office for many years. He has just gone into a nursing home and we are now applying for medicare for him. We have been advised to have the Post Office stop taking out fed taxes from his pension. How do we go about this? Is there a form we can request? If so how do we get the form? Also we were told to get a statement that breaks down his pension payments, to show whatever is taken out of it? How would we go about getting this as well. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

A 4. I am not sure how this would or could occur that OPM would “suspend” or stop taking federal taxes out of his pension check. I will assume this question being posed to me because with your father, being in a nursing home, and the application for “medicare Part B”, ( I assume) means that his retirement check or pension is being entirely used for his daily care, and perhaps turned over entirely to the nursing home�maybe? I am not familiar enough with this to give you guidance�I just, (from my experience) I don’t think that OPM will NOT take any taxes out,although it is possible. Nor do I know if or how they would “redirect” an annuity check, say to a nursing home. I have never dealt and would appreciate you keeping me updated on how this turns out. But your first order of business is to start with OPM. Their phone number is 1-888-767-6738. That office is in Boyers, PA. There is also the HQ office in DC, but start with this phone number first. Your father has an CSA number, that identifies him with OPM. Not knowing how old your father is or if he ever went “on-line” to do any financial changes with OPM, it probably would not do you any good to look for his blue and white pamphlet from OPM (which was mailed to him after he retired with information for just this purpose). It really contains the same contact information I am giving you here. Good luck, and please let me know how this turns out. Also I am going to assume your father was a CSRS retiree, and just so you know, there is a basic life insurance “policy” that he has a retiree. Provided he is over 65, it is free. This is just as information in case you did not know. Be assured, OPM has all this information. Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, I hope your daughter is doing better. That illness is so hard, feeling so helpless. A positive attitude has helped me immeasurably. I’m a cancer survivor since 1974 with three serious bouts (1974, 1997, and 1999). With the right doctors and treatment as well as support from family and friends, I believe in success Now for my question. I cannot believe this can be true. A supervisor was telling me she planned to work 15 more years to get to 43+ years. When I asked why, she said she would get 85% of her salary in her pension. I asked if she was CSRS and she said no, FERS. She said that FERS retirement changed recently and you can get up to 85% of your salary. I told her I knew about the change to sick leave accrual for 50% until the end of the year and full credit beginning 2014. I told her I only knew about 1% per year unless you retire at age 62 or older with 20 years, then it’s 1.1%. Not that I plan to work for 43 years, but is there any truth to her information. Thanks again and I wish all the best for your daughter.

A 5. First congratulations on being a survivor, I see the battle almost first hand, and can only be amazed at all of those that have the strength it takes to fight this fight. AS – to your question�.As always most of what I do is generally tell people they are wrong (as it relates to what they think or talk about federal retirement); and in this too, that is bad information. Even CSRS retirement has a cap of 80%. You are correct 1% and after age 62 it’s calculated at 1.1%. Again there are alwaysexceptions to the rules, as an example if a CSRS employee had over 41 11 and then had over 1.5 yrs of sick leave, in that case then YES, the calculation would be about 83% of that employee’s high 3. Take care, Roseanne…

Till we speak again…Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A August 2013

Good Day Postal Employees!! Again thank you all for the prayers for my daughter. She has had her surgery and is now undergoing more chemotherapy and then will follow up with radiation. We are very grateful for all that have said a prayer or kept our family in your thoughts.

For some reason this has been a very active month in terms of my email activity. Many of your questions are very similar in nature, which says to me that the unbelievable lack of information is not isolated to one district, or even one area but all over. Many of you out there struggle to find out information that is contained at YOUR fingertips. I was relating a story the other day when I was doing a retirement about how we (HR) would offer informational classes (not just at the “Career Awareness Conferences”�(talk about a blast from the past), but either at a District office or Plant. So many times employees would only come if it was HERE YA GO�.”ON THE CLOCK”� These classes were to designed to reinforce what was told during orientation (which all of us would obviously forget) regarding retirement. It amazed me how the majority of employees would not take an hour or two on THEIR TIME, to come and learn about their retirement. One thing I learned early in my career about the post office�get ready�.�.THE ONLY THING THAT REMAINS THE SAME IS��CHANGE!! WHAT DID SHE SAY ABOUT THE INFORMATION BEING AT OUR FINGERTIPS�yes�.you need to go to MYHR on liteblue and much of the information you want to know about YOU or your employment, is contained in your eOPF. I HAVE SAID THIS MANY TIMES BEFORE – YOU NEED TO REVIEW YOUR eOPF!!

We change and restructure more than any other organization, in an effort TO IMPROVE (our business)�.AND TO SHOW A PROFIT (because we are the only federal agency that has to). If you think it-s any other reason�. you-re wrong. The business goal for Postal Service should be that and only that�.improve what we do and show a profit�PERIOD.

Q 1. Hi Roseanne, I worked for the postal service from 1966 till 1969. Upon leaving the post office I withdrew what I had paid in toward my retirement. In 1973, I was reinstated and when I retired Jan. 31, 2013 I had a total of 42 years and 4 months . This included sick leave of 1863 hours. I made a redeposit of 400.00 but not the full amount. I called OPM about my money and the lady who processed my paper work told me that I would not get a refund. She told me the money was applied toward my retirement.I was told by someone who worked in finance that I should be refunded my money. Your help will be appreciated.

A 1. YES something is VERY wrong, don-t know precise details of what it is, but something is wrong. First, to pay OPM $400.00 EVEN, no change sends up a warning sign to me. So, where did the $400 amount come from? Meaning did you send in paperwork to HRSSC or was it done years earlier when there were District offices that had a Personnel Office and had them send off to OPM to find out the PRECISE figure of what was “owed back to the retirement fund”?

That makes a difference as to finding out what is the problem. There could be a justifiable reason why OPM told you that you would not receive a refund versus someone in finance (what finance office, the post office, the district finance office, Eagan..which one ??). For OPM to send you a refund would indicate AN OVERPAYMENT. And then next question would be, why in the world did you NOT pay (the rest??) back. Understand, you may not have HAD to pay MORE than the $400, I am just trying to wrap my head around what is going on, so that I can give you some advice. You are a CSRS employee, and the MOST your retirement can be is 80% of your high 3 average salary�.and you achieve that 80%, when you have worked 41 yrs. 11 months. For you to be gone for 3 years�perhaps with the $400.00 (payback) and the 42 years and 4 months (as w/added sick leave) maybe in calculations not only do you not get refund but you don-t owe any money for the period of time that you left. *Very little known info��you can be paid more than 80%, IF you have the 41-11 and you have additional sick leave, over and above what equals 41-11.

That is the only time that a CSRS employee can earn more than 80% in retirement. That being said, based on that information, you gave me and the information that was given to you by OPM, you are not due a refund. That employee in finance did give you correct “general” information, however, your case was not “general” in nature. This is why an overview is good depending on which retirement system you are in. However, when retiring this becomes ever so personal and you want information specific to YOU, not just general information. But, OPM is correct. If they weren-t I would tell you. Take care, and have a very happy & deserved retirement�.Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne- My question for you requires some background info. First I am expecting to be retired in September 2013 with a disability retirement. I am a FERS employee. I feel I understand the disability rules well and I feel comfortable knowing what to expect save for one thing. I want to withdraw my entire thrift and not roll it over. Please understand I am not asking for your advice or opinion on the wisdom of this decision. What I want to know is If I withdraw my thrift (approx $125,000) will it have an effect on my receiving OPM disability retirement pension checks. The reason I am asking this is because I understand that I have income restricitons while on OPM disability and if I exceed 80% of my working income I can lose my disability pension. SO , to summarize my question, If I withdraw my TSP funds will that count towards income that will case me to lose my disability pension from OPM? Thanks- RL

A 2. Hi RL, I understand very well what you are asking me, and you are not the first person to ask this�.in fact I will be addressing that in my column this month�not exactly your question, but similar.

Let-s take apart the “income restrictions”�..You are a FERS employee, consequently, you have a 3 tiered retirement, 1-FERS; 2-SS/Spec Sup; 3- TSP. Your approval for FERS disability retirement HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR TSP money.
>> Next, you can-t take TSP out, (at least the way you described) until you are retired (or off the roles)�and to be retired either you meet the age & years (and you don-t or I suspect you don-t, otherwise you wouldn-t be talking disability retirement, if you could simply retire) OR you have already been approved disability retirement. So that takes care of that question, because based on the way you have “posed the question”�.you must have been notified of an approval for FERS disability retirement, because to KNOW that you are leaving in Sept 2013, means that you have been approved (and when approved for disability retirement�the sick leave is “USED” until it is gone.
>> Typically you are approved for FERS disability (1st), (and either approved or disapproved for Social Security disability�.because YOU KNOW YOU HAVE TO FILE W/SOCIAL SECURITY in conjunction w/FERS disability�BECAUSE IT TOO is a part of your 3 tiered retirement plan). Once approved for FERS disability, you can do whatever you want to do with your TSP�roll it over, take it in monthly installments, purchase an annuity, or in your case, take it all out, and roll it over to another financial vehicle. Does the TSP fall under the “guise” of income, yes of course it does�but has NO bearing at all on your FERS disability, and would NEVER cause you to lose your retirement from FERS. When OPM or SS relates information about income restrictions�it is speaking about income that you receive from WORKING�TSP is NOT WORKING INCOME, SS is NOT WORKING INCOME, FERS is NOT WORKING INCOME. DO NOT CONFUSE any retirement money with WORKING is not. But do understand that all income has to be reported at the end of the year. I hope this has helped you out with this question. Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, I will be 57 yrs. old in 4 months, have approximately 36 years of service – CSRS – clerk craft employee. Approx 25 yrs of my career has been as a PTR clerk (averaging 32 hours / week); with 12 years full time (early in career).

I received two CSRS Benefit Estimate Reports that were sent to me in 2009 & 2011. The net monthly annuity between the two year difference is $902.00 which doesn-t seem right, plus some of the info at the bottom portion of the “estimate basis” was different. I called HRSSC and they said because I was PTR more than 1/2 of my career I need a manual estimate and to basically ignore the two sent to me. I feel that if my annuity is close to the 2011 estimate I could probably retire, but if it is closer to the 2009 I-d have a hard time. My Retirement SCD is 2/28/1978 – so 35 years? I have 1463.90 accumulated SL which HRSSC said would add about 8 months or close to 36 years of service. And have an AL balance of 262.44 hours. These estimates did not factor in health (which I would take BC/BS family), life or federal tax withholdings and I would also choose some survivor benefits. Other things mentioned were high 3 being $52,882 on the 2011 estimate. On the 2009 estimate it said “deemed” high-3 $50,256, and actual high three $37,693 (which doesn-t seem right) & 78% CSRS pt proration factor. My hours as PTR were constantly changing – usually averaging between 32 and 40 hrs per week, but my office never cut new Form 50-s when my hours changed and the one on record shows me 25 hrs / week. Does HRSSC use actual hours or the Form 50 to do the computations? I do not want to retire but am facing some personal / health issues. I noticed on a Q & A to another person, you said if you have the years in, retire – you get paid about as much as if you worked. Could you offer any advise and what are your fees for counseling? Thanks for your service. NM

A 3. Hi NM, Well the first thing is�.I have been writing about this situation of PTR (Part-Time Regular) time and the affect of it to your overall retirement calculations. However, it is true that when looked at it from a management-s perspective, which of course is fiscally driven, you working a 30 hour week, & paying into the retirement fund based upon those 30 hours per week, and the MATCHING postal service-s contribution is precisely for those 30 hours (again as the example). It then it makes “financial” sense, in that you ARE being paid for and credited precisely for those hours worked. That being said�.you didn-t expect it and why would you when the annuity estimates (generated from a computer mind you) allude to very different figures. (THE why on that is because in order to provide you with Basic Life insurance, a yearly figure must be used in order to calculate “how much basic life insurance” you will have, that the Post Office pays ENTIRELY FOR. The proration factor in determining your annuity is a bitch�.and they using it to the fullest. As far as OPM reviewing the hours to give a fair pro ration, your financial records are transmitted from Eagan to OPM for just that reason�so they will see the actual hours worked.

But to solidify your question about your high 3�very simple, you need to look at all the hours you worked for the year, and that is including sick leave and annual leave, to see how close you come to 2080 (which is a full year (in hours) of work). You are going to have to do the leg work to make sure YOU don-t get screwed�at least if it was me, that is what I would do. AND you really need to wait to review what the annuity estimate says (based on the pro-ration). IF you feel that your monthly annuity it is way way off, and that they have pro rated too severely…then you may have to put your “big girl panties on” and go toe to toe with them. But you cannot do that without having all of your information! Once you get that, and since you have the other 2, I can give you the WHY. You may not like it..but I can explain it. If you are interested in me doing your retirement, (Air Mail Retirement) or if you are close enough and are going to drive here, please let me know and I will send info applicable to the type of retirement you want. Roseanne

Q 4. I retired from the USPS 1/31/13. I just finished reading your Oct 2012 column on FSA. Am I understanding it right in regards to my FSA, that if I opted for my 2013 FSA contributions to equal $800.00 and I accured out of pocket health care expenses for said amount by 1/31/13 but my pay period contributions only equaled $123.00 I can only be reimbursed for what I contributed. Your insight on this matter would be greatly appreciated. All in all my USPS retirement process went fairly smoothly and was wrapped up by 6/13. It great to have the summer off 🙂 Thank you, A

A 4. Hi A, Congratulations on your retirement, it-s an accomplishment only those of us who worked at the USPS (long enough to retire) can only understand that statement of accomplishment�.regardless of your position title. I will unravel it�..but� do understand, that it may mean NOTHING NOW (due to time frames for submission). If during FSA open season in 2012, you signed up for a “SPECIFIC DOLLAR AMOUNT” for the 2013 year�(and worked in 2013, (and you did, if you retired on 1/31)) you ARE eligible to use ALL that money (in your case $800) as long as you used it by 1/31/2013 (the effective date of your retirement).

Maybe if I explain my case it sounds a bit more logical. I signed up for FSA in 2008 for the 2009 upcoming year. For argument sake lets say I signed up for $2600.00 per year (back then, the max was $5000.00 which is what I actually did) Health FSA; which would translate to $100.00 per pay period. So I retired with an EAS early out, that I was not expecting, and my retirement effective date was July 31st 2009. Although I only contributed $1300.00 to the FSA (13 pay periods), I was able to USE ALL $ 2600.00�PROVIDED THE EXPENSE WAS ON JULY 31, 2009 or prior.

So when I wrote that column, there were several readers who wrote and thought that my “insight” on how this worked was somehow�crooked. But it-s not, because it-s an “agreement”, and if you were to pay (as the example above I use) $100.00 per pay period for 26 pay periods�and in that year you only had 1287.35 worth of “health FSA” deductions�.the agreement is you lose the balance of that $2600.00. This is why they tried to make sure you were very accurate in your FSA because if you OVER ESTIMATE, you stand to lose a bit of money that you CANNOT recoup. I hope by the example I gave, gives you the insight you were looking for.

As far as, you can only collect what you put in ($123) (not true)�but for this to work you MUST be sure that the “bills” you are turning in for payment HAD TO HAVE THE MEDICAL SERVICE OCCURRING BETWEEN JANUARY 1 AND JANUARY 31�.that is the real issue. Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, I will be 56 yrs. the beginning of this November. I have been employed by the USPS since May, 1985. I have been off work since March with severe depression, sleep apnea, and several surgeries. My last surgery was extremely difficult, as my foot was “rebuilt”. I had a torn tendon, heel spurs removed, and he cut my heel bone in half as well as having my arch restructured. I am a SDO on the workroom floor at the P&DC in my district. They are have restructured our plant and have made it a HUB. We were instructed to bid jobs in “other post offices” that are up to 75 miles away. As my luck turned out� I got the position as Supervisor at the farthest one I bid on, which is 75 miles away and on Tour 1. I tried it for two weeks, but the drive, the size of the Plant, and the mistrust of my new employees was all too much for me. I am considering Disability retirement. My questions… If I file for Disability, will I have to wait until my claim is settled before I can withdraw my TSP money? I have a negative sick leave balance. How will I be required to pay this back? Also, if I am awarded SS disability also, how will that effect my annuity? Thank you so so much for taking the time to consider my questions. SLC

A. Hi SLC, Well first I can understand your frustration and when you are not at 100% the depression alone can be debilitating. First are you on OWCP? Do you have an OWCP claim�just a few questions. Meaning is this foot “injury” as a result of your job, and you filed an OWCP claim. If you have had all the surgeries and still you are unable to do your job, regardless of why or how you got the condition(s) you can file for disability retirement. They may try to talk you into MRA+10�but don-t do that�it-s not the best financial move unless you-re in a very desperate situation. Disability retirement is a viable option for you that you should look into. The information is below for you to begin this process with HRSSC. See below the instructions for filing for Disability Retirement:

1. Call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273 and request a “disability annuity printout” for August 2013

2. Tell them you want the “Disability Package” (which is the first Blue Booklet)�VERY THIN BOOKLET



As a FERS employee because you have a 3 tiered retirement and Social Security being one of the components of your retirement means that YOU MUST ALSO FILE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY WITH THE SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE. THIS CAN BE DONE ON-LINE. YOU JUST HAVE TO FILE TO BE IN COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL RETIREMENT PROCEDURES FOR OPM.

Once you get this first package gather all your medical information, and have each doctor complete a narrative (can be as short as�.Based upon the medical condition(s) it is my opinion as his/her physician Mr/Ms. Postal Employee is unable to perform the duties and requirements of his/her position as city carrier/clerk/PM/Supv�.etc now, and it has been determined that he/she will never be able to return to this position)�pretty much like that relating that you are unable to do your job and the inability of being able to do that job in the future . (AS INFORMATION, IN THAT BACK OF THAT FIRST BLUE BOOKLET IN THE BACK IS THE JOB DESCRIPTION AND POSITION REQUIREMENTS OF A CITY CARRIER�MANY DOCTORS WILL USE THAT INFORMATION AS A BASIS TO WRITE THE NARRATIVE AS IT SHOWS JOB DUTIES. OF course you will have to provide not just the narrative but medical documentation that supports all the physicians- diagnosis, and prognosis. Once at OPM, they will review and determine if you have met the criteria for approval for disability retirement.

Once that part is completed, then HRSSC will send you ANOTHER blue booklet, this time its very large and is the actual retirement paperwork. That should be your course of action based on what you have written me. Roseanne

Till we speak again…Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A September 2013

Good Day Postal Employees!!

JUST IN: Ex SPOUSE (divorced 23 yrs ago) GETS CHECK FOR $19,459.22 – CURRENT WIDOW (of 19 years) $0.00

Perhaps…that was enough to make you check your BENEFICIARY FORMS!!!

August was an unusually busy month with emails; Air Mail Retirements, as well as individual personal sessions. AND ONE OF THE MOST ASKED QUESTIONS…�.”what about Medicare when I turn 65″? Before we discuss this, it needs to be broken down. There are 4 types of Medicare, Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. Medicare Part A (hospitalization ONLY) is FREE . Medicare Part B, Part C, and Part D will cost you monthly and those premium(s) are withdrawn from your Social Security check.

In many different ways I have tried to communicate, to LOOK HARD AT THIS ISSUE before you simply SIGN UP for Medicare Part B, or “BE SIGNED UP for Medicare Part B” only to become aware when your Social Security check is less than what it was the month before when you were still 64 (&11 months). HOPEFULLY, you all are aware, when you turn 65 that Medicare Part A (at age 65�and if you are not working�another added little issue) is the primary provider for hospitalization. Both CSRS and FERS employee’s pay into Medicare, which is deducted from your paycheck. Medicare Part A is free when you turn 65, regardless if you are in the FERS OR CSRS retirement system. Not often am I challenged on my views as it relates to retirement�most just assume I know (and no news flash here �I DO!!). However this month, I was challenged on my views of Medicare Part B. So in order to ensure that I am providing the best “REAL” information, to you, which I know you rely upon heavily, I researched to see if I was flat out wrong, somewhat wrong or even misleading. Many times change is so fast that somethings can slip by you. In my case, dealing with my daughter’s illness on top of going to NY for a funeral for the last “elder” of my family, this was not the best month for a “challenge”. Something could have changed, and I could have missed something. BUT I DIDN’T, and that is not to say I can never be wrong� is said to say, I will go the extra mile to make sure I am giving you the most accurate information, so that you can make the best decisions as it relates to your employment and to your current or future retirement.

I am placing this link on here so that you can look for yourself on what OPM says about FEHB versus Medicare (all the parts of Medicare A, B, C & D).

This 17 page document is a wealth of information�.I can sum it up though�.FEHB and Medicare Part A work hand in hand. Medicare Part B or C or D is not necessary for you to purchase. This has been my opinion ALL ALONG, finally there is data this booklet to support what I am telling you. But this link is here for you to make up your own mind. YOU CAN’T just DO what I tell you!!!! I appreciate the trust that you have for me, but YOU HAVE to know why you are doing it, otherwise me writing these columns are NOT helping you, if you are NOT actively understanding the why’s of it !! There are no 2 retirements alike�.the rules may be the same, but �everyone has something different in their retirement that could affect an answer relative to the Medicare issue�such as you may have Tri-Care, and a part of that insurance has requirements that are not addressed in the column. So PLEASE read it!! Then make decisions based upon you and your family status, not the status quo. I am telling you this because I believe you need to know the truth. IF I say you need to know the facts�you won’t, only when you think that you are not being told the truth will you actively research it. You need to know even if it hurts (financially). I am a retired postal employee, my husband is a retired postal employee, and when we turn 65 we are NOT taking Medicare Part B,C,D or any other alphabetic symbol they come up with! HE AND I don’t have to, we have FEHB�what is better than FEHB??? Medicare�ah�NO!!!�, so for us�at least, there is no question.

That being said�.all of you out there are individuals, and even though you may have the same retirement system (CSRS or FERS) and even in those 2 systems, each has an additional sidebar system CSRS/offset or FERS w/frozen CSRS. I revisit this subject because many of you still don’t know. When I am asked questions via email, and you tell me that you are a CSRS employee, but in actuality you are CSRS/offset, that, depending on the question(s) can result in very different answers, to the same question. What is good information for one CSRS or FERS employee may not be the right information for another CSRS or FERS employee�even if both are exactly in the same system (1 of 4 retirement systems). There are some HARD FACTS that don’t change in each of the retirement system, however each one is not a “cookie-cutter” retirement system; and there are too many individual “issues” (about YOU specifically) that have a real impact on the correct answer. As an example, if you ask me a question, and you state you are a CSRS employee, I answer it based upon the rules/reg’s of the CSRS system. And then it turns out that you are a CSRS/offset, then chances increase a hundred fold you will get incorrect information… BAD INFO IN� will result �BAD INFO OUT.


So to make this a bit easier for you, go to your pay stub, in the teeny box that says Retire�.there is a even smaller symbol, it’s either a 1 (one) or 8 (eight) or an A (apple) or 5 (five). (Straight) CSRS= 1; Straight FERS=8; CSRS/offset=5; FERS w/frozen CSRS=A. You need to know this stuff!!!

This month, I will be looking into a couple of Long Term Insurance policies/companies, not so much as to give a recommendation, (it’s really just for me & my husband) but to see what the real financial value of this type of insurance is. I did not take out (federal) LTI when I was an employee, and perhaps I should have. I will post my feelings about this, probably in next month’s column. And if you have not read all of my previous columns, there is a wonderful book written by James Brass “Make Sure Your Money Lasts in Retirement”. I read it and thought it had really good information, especially if you are not a “financial person”. Getting your knowledge before you retire is so much more rewarding because there is a sense of peace that you know what you know.

And here is the TOP QUESTION(S) OF THE MONTH: Discontinued, Early Out, VERA, MRA+10 Retirements. I can consolidate about 30 questions and answers from this month’s emails alone, just by giving you some information on these types of retirements. Understand, I write from all of your perspectives, craft employee, union steward, supervisor, manager, or EAS anything! I am my own worst enemy!! Why? Because I must play both sides of the fence so that you have the maximum benefit of what I know�and it ain’t easy!! I am constantly arguing with myself making “cases” for both sides of the issue to win. And when I have completely exhausted all of the little known “stuff” lets just say, then I give you the answer. Now this scenario is not so much about retirement rules, regulations or processes, but about other issues (similar to Medicare), that we should know about as federal employees. Otherwise, how will you know that you are doing the right thing, as it relates to your retirement, OR the actual TYPE of retirement that you will retire under.

VERA (Voluntary Early Retirement Authority) is the same as when referred to an EARLY OUT. Both can, but don’t necessarily have an monetary incentive, and you ARE eligible (if you are a FERS employee) for the Special Supplement if you ARE at your MRA or when you REACH your MRA.
50 20 yrs
Any age 25 yrs.

Discontinued – “If your are involuntarily separated from your position and are not given a reasonable offer of another position, you may receive an immediate annuity if you have met the age and service requirements shown below. The CSRS portion of a CSRS/FERS Transfer annuity benefit is reduced by 2% or each years (1/6th per month that you are under age 55 on date of retirement. The FERS portion of the annuity is not reduced. Special retirement supplements are not payable until you reach your MRA. Special retirement supplements are subject to the Social Security earnings limitation.”
50 20 yrs
Any age 25 yrs.

MRA+10 – Age (56-57) with (at least) 10 credible years of service. Meaning you are AT your MRA, but you don’t have 30 years for full retirement, and you are not 60 yet with 20 years (for a full retirement). So YES you can retire at your MRA with only having worked 10 years (or more)�.AND unless you have some very specific reasons why you would take this type of retirement�I call this a sucker move. You immediately LOSE (forever) the ability to collect your Special Supplement, and your annuity is forever reduced by 5% for each year under age 62. Let me give you an example of this: Using a high 3 average salary of $50,000 – and 22 years (of credible service) AND you are at your MRA. Understand EVERYONE DOES NOT HAVE THE SAME MRA PEOPLE!!!!. It’s based on your birthdate, but mostly the average MRA is 56 and we will use that figure for this example. $50,000 X 1%= $500.00 X 22=$11,000 (yrly) or ($916.00 monthly GROSS).

Then that figure is reduced by 5% for each year under 62, so that is a reduction in our example of 30% ($3300) = $7700. divided by 12 = $617.00 BEFORE TAXES, LIFE INSURANCE AND HEALTH INSURANCE. SO if you tell me that you are not taking either the life or the health insurance�.then what are you retiring to do? Because in this instance, the only benefit to this type of retirement is SECURING LIFE INSURANCE AND HEALTH BENEFITS, and moving on to another job�.AND either taking your portable retirement (TSP) and moving it to the NEW Job’s 401K or keeping it at TSP (with the understanding that while it’s in that fund (TSP) you NOW, a non-federal employee, CANNOT ADD any money to your TSP account.

SUMMARY: OK, so aside from the VERA being fairly easy to understand. AND once broken apart and you see the reduction with the MRA + 10 which is also now easy to understand�that it’s not a good financial move really�.but in some cases could be necessary. It’s the Discontinued Service that many of you are asking about. I have read the POSt Plan. My problem with you all TRYING FOR DISCONTINUED SERVICE RETIREMENT�..IS�do you think that the post office is not documenting the “job offers” being sent to you. How are you going to show that they DID NOT GIVE YOU A REASONABLE OFFER???, so that you can invoke a discontinued service retirement. I SAID I READ THE POSt Plan� and postmasters, you need to read it as carefully as I did!! Your questions are answered in the plan�look at the dates�.things are set in motion by the DATES!! Remember I am looking at this from all side of the situation.

Q 1. Hi Roseanne, I have been contemplating leaving the Post Office and taking all of my money with me. I have 26 years, and I am in the FERS system, my age is 50. At the time of the prior early out, I was shy of the years and age�.(OH HOW I WISHED MY PARENTS WOULD HAVE HAD ME A YEAR OR TWO SOONER !! LOL)…I don’t have the energy or the desire to put up with the BS anymore!! My district promotes the worst of the worst. Rules and regulations are constantly being broken, and mostly by management (I too am management, so I get to see it first hand). I am a Postmaster (level –); and as you can see by my level, I run a fairly large office, and right now the changes to me personally are very little, but knowing�there is more change to come, and many of us don’t think it’s going to be pretty!! What do you suggest I do? You seem to be the ONLY person that understands this ridiculous employer we have! Thank you for being the postal employee’s life raft in the sea of postalpuke. HELP ME SAVE MY SANITY.

A 1. Hi Help me��.sanity, First I suggest YOU read the POSt plan. I guess from being in the MGMT (game), I understand the “underlying language” of what is given to other management employees. Not only do I know HOW they think, I UNDERSTAND (from their perspective) why they think what they do. That is NOT to say that I disagree or agree with what they are saying or doing, it’s just I understand, regardless of my opinion. That makes me uniquely qualified to answer these types of questions. So read the POSt plan, email me back with your phone number� after reading it at least 3 times�if you are unclear. And you are 100% WRONG when you said your district promotes the worst of the worst�..WHY because everyone of you think that their district promotes the worst of the worst!! Roseanne

Q 2. Dear Ms. Roseanne, a (former) co-worker in Headquarters (LeEnfant Plaza) referred me to you, because you did his (personal) retirement about a year or two ago. He said you came and gave a retirement seminar in Manasass Virginia, and told me that if you ever did one again I should do anything I could to attend. He told me that the information you gave was not necessarily the first time he had heard it, it was more the way you explain it, that you make the retirement puzzle fit together. He commented that he had attended many retirement sessions in his career (that were given by the USPS, on the clock and off the clock) prior to coming to your session. Like some of the other employees who were going to attend, related, felt like they knew enough to retire�.that is, until you came. He shared that the group decided that night, they all really knew little and understood even less, until your class. He said you stood up in front of the group, and told them that HQ employees were spoiled, knew less than many craft employees about THEIR retirement, and expected more than anyone else. And you told them you would never do another session like that again. Do you still feel the same way, or was that for just the HQ employees? The reason I ask is, I know several people that, also read your column, and would like to have you come to do a session for us. Just to let you know I am no longer in HQ’s, if that was the reason you said you wouldn’t do that again. If so, could you please respond and let us know the fee and what we as a group have to do, so that we too can have that same experience that they had. JT

A 2. Hi JT, Wow!! Yes, I did�and that is precisely what I told them. And it also tells me that you HAD to have spoken with one of those in the class, because no one else would know that but someone who attended. But there were reasons for that statement�logistics being the main one. Of course the normal “bitching ‘n’ moaning parade” OF postal employees in general, and just a variety of issues. So how do I answer this, because, I have done MANY group sessions since that one for the HQ employees�but they were APWU “driven”. So in that case, the “where” was not an issue, as it was when I did the one for the HQ employees. Since I am NOT an employee anymore, I cannot USE postal premises for anything, therefore the logistics were difficult�.(Ah�in Washington DC )!!! Try to get 45 EAS/PCES folks�separate them by FERS and CSRS, then have a separate session for each, in a place where there is ample parking; a convenient day and time; and THEN, HAVE NO CLOUT WHATSOEVER to make sure they respond to my emails�ensure they are coming�book the site�. A LOGISTIC NIGHTMARE!! So yes, I do group sessions, and the fee is dependent upon where it is, how many are going to attend�if it’s a “union-driven event”�meaning that whichever union is hiring me to do this, they have a union hall or place designated for meetings, or as in the case with some of the NALC unions, a session during a portion of their convention. If it is “individuals” coming together, such as it was with the HQ employees, hiring me sort of collectively, that also is another way that I have done these sessions. After you read this email, discuss with your co-workers and get back with me so that I can try to plan a session that would work for the group you are “representing” with this email. Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, Maybe this is a stupid question, and I have asked this time and time again, even to my supervisor�what is that figure at the very bottom of my pay stub. Thanks, Clueless

A 3. Hi YernotClueless, That figure is the total amount of YOUR contributions to the retirement fund for all of the PRIOR years. The current years’ contribution is on the “retire” line under YTD. The only time that figure at the bottom changes, is PP2, when the entire year (YTD) is added to that bottom figure, and PP 2 shows PP and YTD the same figure�because it’s starting all over again�and then next PP2 its added�the same way. And by the way I even answer what some may feel are the stupid questions�..I just don’t have the heart to publish them. For example, how come we as postal employees don’t get a discount on stamps? I was tempted to say, I do, how come you don’t. But that would have just been ugly on my part�My husband told me clarify YOU DON’T GET STAMPS FOR FREE and NEVER HAVE. Of course postal employees, don’t get a discount on stamps nor have we ever gotten them free. And those who work at the IRS pay taxes, and those who work for TSA still have to be scanned when going through an airport�and on and on�..

Till we speak again…Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A October 2013

Good Day Postal Employees!!

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

I will begin this month’s column with “OH NO YOU DID-INT”. …After answering a ridiculous number of emails, that pretty much said “Roseanne, when is there going to be another early out ?” or “Roseanne, if there is an early out, do you foresee any incentive with it”. If you will go back and read some of my earlier column responses, I say that I did and do believe that there would be more early outs offered and I also felt that there would NOT BE a monetary incentive on the next round(s).

And so, again�.we have another round of Early Out Retirements (VERA) for selected positions, as in this case, certain Postmaster’s in selected occupation codes. And NO, the postmasters in this round of early out’s are NOT getting any incentive money, as the mail handlers or clerks did in the prior early out authority for them�.for a very good reason�because if they REALLY understand what is going on, they will RUN out the door, without an incentive.

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

But it is very important to understand the REAL ISSUE of going from a full time (40 hours per week) to a Non-Traditional Full Time (NTFT) (which is OPM’s language for these less than 40 hr a week positions). In the post office many are called Part time Regular, typically with hours ranging from 30-36 per week. I am going stop here and have you think about this issue, and how it would relate to your retirement calculations when you spend “X” number of years in the NEW position NOT WORKING A FULL 40 hours per week/80 hours a pay period. YOU MUST THINK ABOUT THIS FROM PURELY A FISCAL PERSPECTIVE�because they are�…

Example: You are offered “saved salary” and you were making $56,804 yearly as an EAS-13 Postmaster (which is your High-3 average salary), and you took a position as a “part-time” regular Postmaster, going from an EAS-13 to EPM-55, working 32 hours a week. Do you really think that you are going to still make $56,804 per year????�simply because you were told you are “keeping the same salary for 2 years”, but working only 32 hours�OF COURSE NOT!! What will happen is your $56,804 is calculated to the hourly figure of $27.31 (56,804 divided by 2080= $27.31 per hour). Then you are paid $27.31 x 32 hours (or 64 hours per pay period). That translates to $45,443 per year in your new position, reducing your gross yearly income by $11,361.00. When retiring (even) if only in this 32 hour a week position for as little as 6 months, it begins to REDUCE your annuity, and the longer you stay in this position, the worse the reduction becomes. THIS IS WHAT THE PRO-RATION FACTOR IS ALL ABOUT. The below information is taken directly from OPM, as it relates to this subject.

“This alert clarifies how we should proceed USPS cases with an “NT” (or “NTFT) schedule. During the past year, the USPS has been sending IRR”s with an “NT” notation next to the pay rates in the Service History Remarks. The USPS has defined NT as “non-traditional full time”. We view any work schedule under 40 hours a week, or 80 hours a pay period to be a part-time work schedule and therefore will process claims with the NT work schedules of less than 40 hours a week/80 hours a pay period in the same manner as we compute USPS cases based on part time regular work schedules. We will credit any reported hours worked in excess of the stated tour, NTE 40 hour a week/80 hours per pay period in the computation of the proration factor.”

And all of that means that when computing retirement, you cannot only use the standard computations alone. If using FERS as the example retirement system; calculation is of 1% of the Hi-3 average salary, times the number of years worked. That gives the yearly gross amount, which then is divided by 12 giving a monthly annuity. (That figure is WITHOUT the reduction of 10% for the spousal annuity)�..and that would be the correct figure�because it is THE BEGINNING FIGURE, (the Hi-3 Average Salary) before the proration factor reduces it.

In this case, as above with a salary of $56,804�your high-3 is always going to be your high 3, and that figure IS USED to determine your annuity. And then�.that figure will be pro rated by the number of weeks or pay periods that you did not work a full 40/80 but 32/64. The percentage of weeks/pay periods in the less than 40/80 is calculated and the percentage of that is based against your OVERALL years bringing you to a reduced annuity percentage.

Example:�Working 25 years, and the last 6 months of your employment you work a NTFT position of 32 hours per week or 64 hours per pay period. That will have a 2% reduction, so YOUR hi-3 is STILL $56,804 but now its reduced by 2%, bringing the hi-3 to $55,667.00, (98% of your Hi-3 Average salary). Then the annuity calculation begins with 1% X $55,667 now, not $56,804. So the longer you work in the less than 40 hour a week job, the less you WILL have as retirement income from FERS.

In a quick scenario, taken from the figures above, when I applied this to someone who was trying to decide to retire, with 25 years (with 5-6 months working a 32 hour week position), and was trying to decide should they work 5 more years. With the pro-ration factor applied (because if retiring then (5 years from now) we calculate 30 years, (of that 30 years, now 5 years and 6 months are part time). After the proration was applied, AND WORKING 5 MORE YEARS, their monthly annuity was $9.00 dollars more a month gross, than it was if retiring with the 25 years (& 6 months of part time hours). PLEASE —I KNOW THIS IS VERY CONFUSING�AND I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT calculate everyone’s current and future retirement if you write and ask me�it’s very labor intensive, and I am doing this manually, whereas, OPM has computers to do this.

AND THAT BEING SAID�.if you are one of the postmasters that have been given an early out VERA offer, countless numbers of you received your annuity estimates WITH ABSOLUTELY NO GROSS MONTHLY FIGURES ON THE ANNUITY ESTIMATE WHATSOEVER!! And then expect you to make a decision, by an irrevocable drop dead date if you wanted to retire�really!!!! Based on WHAT!�NO information!! Who does that!! Who retires not knowing how much EVEN the gross annuity is, even before any deductions are made. Seriously�.do you apply for a job, get the job, and then go home and tell your spouse, hey honey, I got a job�and the spouse says�.GREAT!!!, how much will you be making�.and the newly employed spouse says, gee I don’t know, I guess I will find out when I get my paycheck�ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!

Like I said in the beginning of this column “Oh NO you did-ent”

Q 1. Hi Roseanne- would like to know what is the earliest I could retire? I am 54 years old and began my career as a carrier in the post office. I was 41 when I began, and I am under the FERS retirement system. I bought back my 7 years of military, so I currently have 20 years of service. My question is when I can go without penalty? Thank you so much for all the years of us carriers reading your columns in the break room, it’s obvious to us, you are a postal employee to the BONE…�.you have been a life saver to many. Thanks, HB

A 1. Hi HB, You can retire at your MRA (no doubt 56) as long as you have at least 10 years of credible service, however, that is NOT full retirement and does have a 5% reduction penalty for each year under age 62, AND can only do that IF you are AT your MRA. So for you, that won’t be for another 2 years, and it still is not full retirement. AND on top of the 5% reduction applied to your annuity, you also LOSE OUT on the Special Supplement. So, other than an early out or discontinued service retirement, which means you must have at least 25 years (at any age) or at least be age 50, with 20 years to retire, you should not consider it. Be aware that when you are offered an early out, there is NO 5% reduction on age�.AND if you are AT your MRA you ARE eligible for the Special Supplement. If not at MRA,when you reach your MRA, then your Special Supplement will begin (again this is under early out criteria only). And thank you, yes postal to the core! Roseanne

Q 2. Hi, I will be leaving the USPS in a few days and would like to know what forms I need to fill out. I am a letter carrier with 28 yrs of service at 51 years of age. Thanks, G

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

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

A. 3 Hi JM – you made the right choice. There may be NO Cola as an EAS, (in the same way it is done as a craft employee�EAS has increases based on merits, but in this climate, perhaps there will not be any those anyway) but you will have added $3000, annually to your salary, which will be included in the overall retirement calculations, AND, and that is HUGE. What if in a wholesale “Postal Reorganization, and positions such as clerks are being ” re-defined”, as the example with the new position “NonTraditional Full Time”. If after, this round of early out’s and regular retirements, there is a reorganization, and they abolish all clerk positions, to redefine and apply new (and perhaps less than 40 hour a week) schedules; and then must bid to secure a new position, that may be anywhere from from 30-36 hours per week. That ALONE…will begin to degrade how your annuity is calculated, … called the pro ration factor… you made the right choice. I will be addressing that issue, from the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) perspective in my next column. Roseanne

Q 4. Hi Roseanne, God bless your daughter and you. Thank you for all of your informative information. I worked for the postal service from 1986-1989. Subsequently I was reinstated 1990 to present both under the FERS retirement system . Eight months ago I submitted form 3108 for a redeposit of funds back into the FERS retirement system. OPM just sent me form R136-23 of what I owed plus interest. I mailed check back to OPM claim # and date of birth. My question is OPM supposed to send me a copy of my paid invoice so I can forward it on to HRSSC so they can update my annuity computation date? Thank you, R.

A. 4. Hi R, first thing to do is get a copy of that cancelled check both sides. That beyond all words is undeniable evidence that you paid it in full, & you have a date in which that happened on the check. That, with a copy of the SF3108, showing the pay off figure is concrete. How you should approach this is REGARDLESS if you receive a letter from OPM, you want to see in your “postal history” if you have been credited with those years. You can do this by going to your eOpf on line at liteblue and postal ease and check to see. You should have a PS Form 50 cut, changing your RCD, (retirement computation date). If you are trying to line your ducks up in row before retirement ( soon) then don’t sleep this… Stay on it..not because you won’t be credited with it, you will… It’s just the bs hassle it takes when form 50’s don’t line up with current information. Thank you for your expression of empathy for my daughter, I am humbled by her strength. Roseanne

Q 4. Follow up – Hi Roseanne again . Just a follow up to your response of my FERS Redeposit. Yes I do want to line up all my ducks in a row before retirement. I did receive a letter from OPM verifying my years of employment and amount due plus interest from the postal service which I have already paid back. My question is should I send back a copy of the letter from OPM which includes my years of service and amount due plus interest along with a copy of my cancelled check to HRSSC? All the best to you and your family!

Q 4. Follow up Response – Yes I would. Then wait about 2 pay periods, & if you don’t receive a PS Form 50 in the mail, changing your RCD & ACD (Retirement & Annuity Computation Dates), then call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273 & inquire when the form 50 is going to be processed on your buy back. 2 pay periods IS MORE THAN sufficient time for them to complete this. Remember you want this to show on your “form 50 history”. Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, I retired last year after almost 38 years. I reviewed all the early out information, attended several seminars that were given; watched all the retirement videos and went through HRSSC for my counseling session on the phone. The retirement videos state a retiree can be reemployed by the Post Office as a rural route sub or a PMR with no offset to retirement. I also called shared services and they agreed. My Post Office rehired me as a rural route sub and now personnel in ANY CITY, USA is saying it will affect my retirement. My postmaster had me call OPM and they said personnel needs to follow the CSRS/FERS retirement handbook chapter 100 to do this. Do you have any advice on how I can proceed with this situation between OPM and personnel? I would really like to start working again! Thank you for your help, JR

A. 5. Hi JR, You do understand by asking me this question, you are basically are asking me to give you instructions for you to tell YOUR PERSONNEL office HOW do this�sad isn’t it. Yes you can work as a PMR or TRC after retirement. However, there are “conditions” that surround that type of employment, as well as regulations that must be followed by the District you are trying to work for. There is required to paperwork to complete for OPM that is signed off by the HR Manager, AND YOU!! with the understanding of the “limitation” that you can work.

You can work ONLY 180 days ( in each calendar year) without if affecting your annuity. On day 181 it becomes a dollar for dollar reduction. One of the reasons that ANY CITY, USA may be saying no, is that, you CANNOT just re-hire an annuitant, without going through the proper procedures for implementing this position. There are required steps to this process, one is that the District Office MUST VALIDATE by virtue of announcement(s) or newspaper advertising, that they have tried EVERY POSSIBLE WAY TO HIRE someone (other than you, a retiree) and were UNSUCCESSFUL. I suspect that has not been done, and typically is not done, because to have that position “legal” the district need to follow the proper procedures. And in this case, was not done, or you would not be writing me, for instructions to give your District Office on how to accomplish this. OPM is not IMPRESSED by us as an organization, because they can see we try to get AROUND doing what is regulations. A typical scenario is: this job was “promised” to you when you were retiring, to supplement your income and to “encourage” you to retire. Because normally (after 38 years) when you retire,�YER DONE!! IT’s a RAP !! Not taking orders anymore, no deadlines, no creep overtime, no COA files, no watching everyone else’s sick leave, and know when they are sick�there went your merit�because otherwise, why didn’t you just stay. I would say this probably will not be done by your district, at least in this climate of the PO where every possible job is going to be taken by those that are employed, or are looking for a “landing spot” when a current employee’s job has been eliminated.
>> You worked 38 years, and folks are scrambling for jobs because the Postal Service is downsizing and eliminating jobs left and right. Employees are just looking to KEEP a job and a place to work�SHAME ON YOU!! If you worked 38 years, then you are a CSRS employee. And since I know retirements�( I live and breath it), I KNOW FOR FACT!! that your take home monthly annuity is almost exactly the same as your take home working salary, when you were employed. I tell many retired postal employees who ask this same question�..the Post Office is NOT the only employer in your city. Why would ANYONE ever chance losing a dollar of their hard earned retirement, to go back to where they retired from???? , when you can work at ANY OTHER JOB, (OTHER THAN FEDERAL) with no reduction to your annuity�.it just amazes me.

Till we speak again…Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A November 2013

Good Day Postal Employees

In sincere gratitude, thank you all for the prayers that have been said for Hope. She is a true fighter and this month she begins her 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments. Please continue to keep her in your prayers and thoughts.

This month I would like to start this column out a bit different. First, as always, it’s a real question from a real employee, and secondly, its just sad.

Hi Roseanne I am a CSRS postal employee with 42 years of credible service. I have submitted my retirement application to shared services effective 11-30-2013. I will be 60 years old on 12-1. I have been with the federal service since I was 17 years old. I do not qualify for Social Security because I have only paid into that the 3 years I was in the military. I am considering withdrawing my retirement application because of the mess with the government shutdown (I figure OPM will fall even farther behind in processing applications now). Due to my many financial commitments I cannot afford to wait a year or for full retirement pay if they fall that far behind. I will be getting around $12,000 for the lump sum payout on my 440 hrs. of accumulated annual leave. I had planned to use that to pay off my credit cards, not to use for living expenses until I receive my proper retirement. I have a comment and two questions. I have read your post about �getting out�, it seems you advocate leaving as soon as we feel comfortable with the decision because the PO is a sinking ship? I�ve gotten tired of waiting for any type of incentive for the carriers to go. Your thoughts on that? Now, my questions; if I decide to retire, and take some low paying part-time job, could I theoretically qualify for SS benefits somewhere down the road, and if so, wouldn�t they be reduced because of the reduction we face being federal retirees?
Second question, I have applied for two scheduled awards, and although it’s been a struggle, now, I�m trying to decide if it is even worth the hassle filing an appeal on this situation? I�m sure the first injury probably contributed to the second injury. Your thoughts please. I guess I will be in for a long fight if I decide to appeal this mess. Thanks so much for your thoughts and advice!


I do understand the government shut down, but that will NOT be going on very long. Many in the federal workforce can work from home, and that this right here is just political BS!! You and I are about the same age, and we have seen this before in the political arena. We lived through the vast changes that Pres. Reagan put forth, that radically changed the entire federal retirement system, as well as the 1986 tax code change that eliminated the deduction of interest, other than mortgage interest on our taxes. Probably by today’s standards, Reagan would be considered a Moderate – so look how things change. Send me your phone number with area code, (and what state you are in for time zone purposes). I think based on this email, a conversation would do you better than me writing to you. I know from experience�that when employees hear me talk, they instinctively KNOW, I know what I am talking about. I can help you get a better grip of what is going on and how to set a plan to accomplish it. It doesn’t matter if you used my services or not. I just want to help you get the most out of your retirement and set you on the correct path. Roseanne

WelI�I called him. And after we spoke for a bit, he told me he pretty much fell on the floor in disbelief, when he answered the phone and found out it was me. He couldn’t believe I would take the time to call him, even though I asked for his phone number. One of the first things I said to him was thank you for all your years of service, both federal and military. He told me no one has ever told him that, just those few words of gratitude. When we were speaking he told me that really couldn’t take the way the post office operates anymore, and that leadership was pathetic. Placing unrealistic demands, in time frames that were even more ridiculous. He had pretty much made up his mind that he was retiring, and did not pull the plug on his retirement paperwork. He sounded like so many of you out there.. EMPLOYEE FRUSTRATION�His complaint was just the lack of any information on wholesale level. Not just retirement information, but what the USPS will look like in the future. Again, it’s no different than many of you that write me. Not to ask a specific question, just some confirmation, that the organization will bounce back. It’s not like I am telling any of you out there HOW bad it is YOU TELL ME! AND truly, it is the same story, about the same supervisor, same exact manager or Postmaster or POOM!

The Post Office, an agency that was built literally to “transport information”�.YES MAIL was transporting information, and for years WE were the ONLY transporters of information. There was no TV, or radio in the beginning�.no internet�no twitter�no Facebook�.it was just the MAIL. And now the very same agency has thousands of employees that feel they have no information or not enough of the right or pertinent information in order to retire or make a decision to stay. And one thing on the government shut down�.we are federal employees and we will work�.even if you tell us not to, we will work�even when you threaten you won’t pay us, we will work, and we will talk trash all day long�.but federal workers we will work!

In the conversations, both verbal and written, with you out there, retirement information seems to be the most confusing. It is most definitely because of crossing information on CSRS and FERS. I was told that by an HRSSC employee that all questions are answered when the employees are on this retirement phone line session, and I do believe that. But my response was “SO what if they DON’T know what to ASK? Because it’s those same employees writing me that have already HAD their retirement session on the phone!

Setting the record straight� Yes there is retirement information out there, and you do have to look, beginning with information on liteblue; and you do have the HRSSC phone session, not necessarily personal; AND yes, there are those good video’s made several years ago, very-very informative and� the end of the day�.it’s still all POSTAL STEW�.AND�…I STILL WRITE THIS COLUMN!!!

Q 1. Hello Roseanne, I am a city letter carrier, but began my career as a mail handler. I started on 6/18/1988 but for 25 years my retirement date was 11/12/1987. Then on July 15, 2013, I received in the mail a PS Form 50 action that was changing 11/12/1987 to 6/18/1988. CBB must be completed to receive credit towards RCD and ACD. I was a casual during that time in1987 before being converted from a hiring register to a PTF clerk. Do you have any suggestions. Thanks much, VRL

A 1. Hi VRL, I suspect that based on the dates you gave me, that it was on 11-12-1987 you became a casual. I suspect that on 12-31-1987 was the end of your appointment and then on 01-01-1988, perhaps you were reappointed as a casual. Then WITHOUT A BREAK in service you were converted to a career employee on 06-18-1988. You didn’t tell me WHAT EXACTLY changed�meaning “precisely what on the form 50 was changed. If you go to ANY OTHER form 50 (prior to this one), that ONE piece of “data” should be different than this new form 50. It could be the EOD (enter on duty date) (and typically that is what it is). I bet if you look that is possibly what it could be. Another could be the ACD and/or the RCD (on any of previous form 50’s showed) was 11-12-87. That “CBB must be completed to receive credit towards RCD and ACD” is informing you that you can buy it back. No doubt, this change, is about correcting bad data in your form 50 history, that somehow maybe they just caught. Let me ask you a question, have you done ANYTHING to generate this type of change? For example, request an annuity estimate for retirement? Anything like that? Thanks, Roseanne

R 1. Hi Roseanne, Now that was an amazing answer and quick. I checked my personnel folder on internet and I was a casual, for about 4 months in 1987, and then I was on my 90 day probation period then I was hired on 6/18/1988. I would like to know if I can get credit for those months towards my retirement I did call HRSSC and request a beneficiary package, but other than that, nothing. I have not changed jobs and have not bidded on any vacant jobs either. I like many of the readers of this column and this magazine, are disgusted on the direction the post office is taking. We are SO not what we used to be. Again, you are spot ON!! VRL

A 1a. You are welcome. Yes, you can repay your prior non-career time, that is what the CBB was referring to. You could repay the amount (of course it would be with INTEREST) and if you are looking to do that, I suggest you get started now, just to find out how much it would be. Then see how long it would take for you to recoup the money spent for those 7 months of casual time. For you, its a little over one-half percent added. Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne. I just read the article in Postal Retirement Q&A for Oct -2013 on I hate to admit my ignorance on the subject, but I have questions about early retirement. In the Q&A section, you told someone that there is a 5% reduction per year for early retirement under FERS. I’ve heard for years that FERS has a 2% penalty per year, while civil service is 5% per year. I am under FERS, so which is correct- 2% or 5% ? Also, I’m 46, my start date was 10-11-97, so what is my Minimum Retirement Age? Our Human Resources offices were drastically cut several years ago, and no one can give us straight answers at our plant. Thanks in advance. JR

A 2. HI JR, YES that is drastically wrong information on CSRS and FERS! It is a 5% reduction for each year under age 62 (FERS) if you were to retire under the MRA+10 type of retirement; and would NOT EVER be eligible for the special supplement. If an early out occurs and you are UNDER your MRA, (because and ONLY because of THAT early out, there is NO 5% reduction on the age) & you DO GET the special supplement. IF not yet your MRA (again under early out), when you reach your MRA you would begin to collect the special supplement.

CSRS�.you simply CANNOT RETIRE UNLESS you are 1. Age 55 with 30 (or more years) or 2. Age 60 w/(20 or more years) or 3. Age 62 w/5 (or more years). If you are a CSRS employee and offered an early out and are NOT YET 55, CSRS has a 2% penalty for each year under age 55. If you are over 55, as was I when I retired (CSRS) with less than 30 years (almost 27) there is no reduction at all. Your retirement is simply calculated by the formula and the years�(again provided you are 55).
THAT ABOVE IS WHAT IS CORRECT�.If you were born in 1967, your MRA is 56 and 6 months. And that too is the correct answer! Roseanne

R 2. Wow. My wife (also a postal worker) and I were both wrong. Lesson learned. Thanks so much and God Bless you. Sincerely, JR

A 2a Hi JR, It feels good to know I have been able to set information straight so that employees have real information to make important retirement decisions on. You know, when we reach the ages that begin to take us closer to retirement, it’s too important to NOT know everything�we are too old to try to recoup financial mistakes, especially in retirement. Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, Thank you so much for this column of valuable information My question: With all the crazy things happening at the Post Office now, I have been looking into retirement for the past few months. I was told I could “buy back” my casual time. It’s very confusing. Please help. Would it be worth my $$ to buy it back? In what case would it NOT be good or just be worthless to buy it back?

My case: I was a casual from Sept 1986-March 1987–exactly 6 months- making $5.00 hour. I worked at least 40 hours per week. I had just turned 30 when I became a PTF. So now I’m 56 (MRA) with 26� years of service. How much is this going to cost me to buy it back? and then of course there’s interest too. Is it worth it for me to buy it back? Will I gain more $$ per month at retirement by doing this (with or without an early out) or will I just be able to retire 6 months earlier? OR neither????? or BOTH?? Good? Bad? this is the first I’ve heard that I can “buy” the time back-similar to military time. Many of us were casuals before we became career employees. Some for 2 months, some up to 2 years. Please help!! CE

A 3. I will give you my opinion on this issue of FERS buying back very small periods of non-career employment….DON’T BOTHER. I can go into all of the why’s, do all the calculations for an exact amount owed and what the net “worth” of that buy back as it relates to your overall monthly annuity in retirement, and typically, it’s just NOT worth it. In my opinion, it’s not enough to be dealing with only 1/2 of 1%. Several years ago, I did retirement sessions for HQ employees. In one session, a CSRS employee who had been trying to buy back casual time since (beginning the process OF buying it back with HRSSC), 2007 or 2008. It too was 6 months and in 2011, and the employee still had not received paperwork to initiate the buy back. It was as if they couldn’t find it to calculate it. Without the amount of the initial payback (earnings), there is no way to calculate INTEREST OVER THE LAST 32 – 33 years. So you asked my opinion�.it ain’t worth it�.one month !! I did calculations today, on one of my clients, with a High 3 average salary in the 60G range, and those six months of casual time bought back, gets you around $4.00 per month extra OK, it IS for the rest of your life�..but $4 bucks a month!! �.retire�the hell with those 6 months of casual time. Roseanne

R 3. Thank you for the quick answer…….but……… it’s not really about the 20-25 extra dollars. I was really more interested in the time. I am already 56 so I have the MRA, but I won’t have the 30 years till I’m 60. Without an early out I will have to have 30 years in. this would put me 6 months closer. A few people did it here in the January early out. One said 1 year of time cost her $83 plus $380 in intreast and fees. (She just turned 56); and it was taking 18-24 months to recoup that money, @ $20-24 extra per month. She felt it was worth it, since she was still so young. She DID say it took 20 months to get it all straight. BUT like I said, I really was only thinking it would put me 6 months closer to my 30 years…..without that early out. SO still don’t bother???? I value your opinion. Thanks, CE

A 3a Hi CE, I am bit confused as to why the 6 months is so important to you?? By the time you get to be 60, it’s still full retirement�because full retirement is age 60 with at least 20 years and you would have that�.so that is why I don’t understand your stressing about these 6 months.

HERE is FERS FULL Retirement AGES and Years
MRA w/at least 30 years
Age 60 w/at least 20 years
Age 62 w/at least 5 years

So do you see why I am confused�I didn’t give just you a quick answer. I read your question entirely before I answered it. And my answer still stands about just 6 months of buying it back�.not just the few dollars it gains, but all the time it takes to get it worked out. YOU and I were similarly situated in terms of years and age (except I am CSRS); hired when I was 29, and so for me, 30 years put me able to retire at age 59. If I was a casual for 6 months, prior to my career appointment, and was able to buy it back, I still wouldn’t�because in a few months I would have been 60, and for CSRS also at age 60 w/20 or more years, it is FULL retirement, the same as FERS. I guess this statement should be made, “if you are age 60 you don’t have to work 30 years to be eligible to retire”, at age 60 you only need 20 years, and you more than have that. I hope these examples will help you understand why I came to the conclusion I did. As well as the other REAL conclusion for FERS�it’s about 4.00 per month more�..just saying…Roseanne

Q 4. Hi Roseanne, A friend suggested I email you with my questions. I am a FERS employee with 29 years as of Jan. 2014. I was a level 11 Postmaster until two years ago. At that time we heard that our offices would be 4 hour offices. I went to a meeting and the MPOO for our area said, if you go out and get trained in the city delivery and larger offices, you WILL get a job. Long story short, I have been managing Level 18 offices for the past 2 years. When these offices come open I then apply as the OIC. So far these jobs have gone to District people looking for a job. I was then given the advice to apply for a six hour office, which I got. Well I did and didn’t want this level office, but felt that getting my 30 year retirement benefits was the only way to go. I have never worked in this Level 6 office and have continued still to OIC a level 18 office. My question is this. Do these two past years apply to my high 3? And secondly, this office I am OIC’ing in, will come open in Jan 2014. The person who got the position has decided to retire at the end of the year. Do I stay and apply once again, or do I as you say RUN for the door and retire? I would have never thought my career would end this way. Thank you for your time. And my prayers go to you and your family at this time. Please email or call at your convenience. LT

A 4. Hi LT, There are couple of things to understand�first�the annuity estimate is just that…an “estimate”. What it really is though,�.is just a “snap shot” of the last 3 years of your form 50 history, (even if they are NOT your high 3). That being said, as in your case, you may be on paper (on paper means what is on your form 50) any level, and that is what the annuity estimate WOULD reflect. But in reality, OPM will go by your earnings in that particular level – for the period of time you are in the higher level, (minus overtime, Sunday Prem, or Night D). OPM reviews ALL your earnings. Better said, if you are on “higher level” (look on your paycheck) and are truly working in a level 18 capacity, that will be counted as your high 3 (once the pay records reach OPM).�and that takes care of that answer�I hope. One thing that always seems to be missed when we talk about high 3 is that when calculating the high 3 and there is “higher level”, that it is your CONSECUTIVE HIGH 3 AVERAGE SALARY�or ANY of your high 3 years in a ROW, so that takes care of that answer, hopefully…

As far as should you go for the PM position that you are an OIC in right now, when the office becomes vacant in January? �.Totally a crap shoot!�By your OWN admission�these jobs are OBVIOUS landing spots for district employee’s (and the closer you are to the DC area) headquarters employee’s landing spots as well. If it were me, I would retire!! The longer you remain in a position NOT working 40 hours a week, it will consistently decrease your high 3 average salary, as it will be subject to the proration factor�.you have NO idea what is in store for you down the road. I did a retirement that showed a PM who worked 5 more years, and due to the proration factor, she grossed $5.00 more per month by staying (5 yrs.) �.why�.the proration factor. And I want to thank you, for thoughts prayers and concern that has been expressed for my daughter Hope.

Until we speak again… Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A December 2013

Good Day Postal Employees!!

I begin this month’s column wishing everyone a peace filled holiday season. I could not let this Christmas pass without sending my heart felt appreciation to all of you who write me just inquiring about Hope’s condition. To those who send prayer chains; teachers that have their students say a prayer every morning, in Hope’s behalf. The many churches (of all denominations) around the country, that have her on their weekly prayer list, to all of you – for all of that, I am truly humbled by your response. We are so grateful for what has been initiated in Hope’s behalf. She is still undergoing radiation as of today, and will continue daily sessions for several more undetermined weeks. We are praying for a healthy prognosis this year for her, with all that she has overcome so far. And so to all of the readers of Postalmag, and followers of my column, I wish you all with overwhelming sincerity, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Roseanne

Well it’s that time of year, and I know working at the post office during Christmas, can be unreal. This is when some employees (regardless of rank) are at their worst and then there are some that will shine brightly at being their best. It is a hard time of year and you have to be a postal employee to know it and understand it fully. And unless you are a postal employee, it’s pretty hard to complain to anyone else. And when we do voice our complaints, they typically fall on deaf ears. Why?.. oh you know why�.it’s because of our wages. That is what everyone says, you make big money, and so, if you don’t like it – leave. And we can’t do anything but agree�.”but it shouldn’t be that hard to do this job”�, yea I know, we all say it. “It’s not the job�it’s the people”, yea, we say that too. I know for me, Christmas hiring was the HR Superbowl, every single year. And you hear “but it’s not all of the people, just this one or that one”. Yes, in every office, in every district , it is THE SAME. Working at the PO is an emotionally toiling job. From working Tour 3 or Tour 1; or working weekends for years. Or being unable to to be at family functions during the holidays, like that doesn’t just piss off the spouse! I would say, if I didn’t write this column, that it’s probably not that bad anymore�.but not from the information I am getting from all of you. Some that write are not “years in” as some others are, and don’t really know how rough it was without machines to sort the mail, I do�.I go back THAT FAR. This is how far I go back, see if the terms even mean anything to you: LSM, OCR, blue goose, nixy, “inside annual”; tie off a sack; 5 minute leeway; sweeping the machine; pie cart; casing mail in 030 or 040, ah, by hand. The days when you LITERALLY had to lift 70 pounds by lifting a sack (that was weighed ensuring the 70 pounds was correct!! ) and DOING IT in front of your supervisor. This on-site physical test was given to clerks, mail handlers and carriers alike. EVERY job in the post office had a REQUIREMENT of lifting 70 pounds. I wonder how many can do that today that are hired. Yes, I go so far back, that I was “issued” a postal ashtray that clipped on my case in 045, so that I could smoke and case mail at the same time (unbelievable is it NOT!!) And yes the USPS logo was on the ashtray!!! So in going back, I also came full circle as I sat in my office (District HR) with huge windows that overlooked the parking lot of employees going in and out of Shared Services. So I am telling you during this Christmas season�..RETIREMENT IS SO WORTH IT�.DO THE RIGHT THING FOR YOURSELF.�PLAN�.UNDERSTAND TSP��KNOW AND UNDERSTAND YOUR RETIREMENT PLAN. For many, the retirement and benefits ARE worth the missed holiday dinners, and the missed parties, and some vacations you were not able to attend. I tell you this, because it’s so!!

I have had countless emails, and phone conversations about how badly things are going in the particular post office that you work at. Many of the complaints are so very much the same that clearly it is NOT your DISTRICT, and no doubt not the AREA office(s) either. The tactics, the absurd “new ways” of doing things can only come straight from Headquarters. It’s the Christmas season, and I don’t have to tell any of you, this is the worst time of the year for any postal employee, in any position, in any office�everywhere�.and with all of the early outs, regular retirements, little if ANY hiring and most of all NO REAL restructuring, I am sure it is very difficult now.


I have reviewed so many different types of annuity estimates from postal employees all over the country. I am here to tell you that an estimate ain’t an estimate, unless it’s the NARCES Estimate (USPS National Retirement Counseling System Annuity Estimate) top left of page says: Report AAF241P1. THAT IS THE REAL RETIREMENT ESTIMATE. Not the one they try to “encourage you” to pull yourself�.”oh, you can do that yourself�..” Some annuity estimates that employees have brought me, that they ordered themselves, or received from HRSSC look like a “screen print”. There is one that is truly jacked up with wack’ed information is the “Benefits Estimate Report”. If it were me, I would be very specific about what I would accept as a PROPER ANNUITY ESTIMATE�OKAY�..I HAVE TOLD YOU – AND AS THE PO SAYS “YOU’VE NOW BEEN INFORMED”

Q. 1 – Hi Roseanne, I recently retired during the early out for Postmasters. I am 66 years old and retired with 29 years of service. I have heard that if I was to make a withdrawal from my TSP Account I would not be charged the 10% penalty by the government due to the age I retired at. I also have heard that you can transfer your IRA�s to the TSP Account. Would you have to pay taxes first on any Traditional IRA transfer to the TSP. Thank you for any information you can give me on this subject and you have been a great source of Postal information throughout the years. JTS

A. 1 – Hi JTS, If you are 66 now, to be honest, you could have taken your money out long ago and without a penalty; taxes (well depending on how you decide to withdraw your money) yes�. but a penalty no. And to respond to your second question, that flat out is NO!! You can NEVER EVER put money into the TSP account. That is “monitored & guarded” money�.because no taxes have ever been paid on that money. You didn’t when you contributed to TSP, (when it was withdrawn from your paycheck) the agency didn’t when they deposited the 1% for each FERS employee OR, the matching funds of your contribution. Nor has any taxes been paid on the interest earned on that money. So this money is in a place all by itself. After you retire (or leave federal service) you can withdraw your funds from TSP. After separation from the Postal Service, if you rolled that money into another 401K, you wouldn’t pay taxes on that transaction either. An easy way to say this�.you pay taxes on TSP money is when it is “spendable” and at the “rate” in which you receive it. When it is in your bank, or in your hand, you now owe taxes on it because you can spend it. And you are very welcome�.now lets go get your money!! You will need to fill out a TSP-70. Go to, once you get to that page, at the top right hand corner, you will see Forms & Publications, click on that and then go to the forms, you will see it as one of the top 5 most requested forms. You can also call TSP at 1-877-968-3778. The TSP-70 is the form required to do ANYTHING AT ALL with your TSP funds. Roseanne

Q. 2 – Good Evening Roseanne, My question is I am with CSRS and was wondering how many hours of sick leave, count as a month more toward your retirement. I have heard two different 174 and 160 ? Is either right? Thanks for the great service you do for us. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family! GL

A. 2 – Thank you, we truly appreciate the prayers!! Sincerely. First understand that all sick time is credited�.too a point!!! (AND in 2014 that will be the exact same message for both CSRS and FERS employees). What is far more relevant, is what will you have as a sick leave balance on the day you plan to retire. So instead of looking to see how many hours calculates as an additional month, you should be looking at an annuity estimate, because your credible time and sick leave is combined together for retirement calculations, and it shows that on the annuity estimate. At least it does on the NARCES annuity estimate. As an example, let’s say you were looking to retire December 31, and have an annuity estimate dated for January (which is correct), and you ordered it in July, (6 months in advance of your retirement date). The sick leave should not be advanced (to you ) to match up with what you would have on Dec 31st, simply because the annuity estimate is calculated to end your employment on Dec 31. That annuity estimate should be just as what your sick leave is on the day you ordered it. So trying to calculate what adds to a month is almost meaningless, if trying to add to years of service. As I said the only way is to have an annuity estimate to have the absolute answer. But to answer your question according the “Sick Leave Chart – 2080 hours, 173 equals a month. Roseanne

Q 3. – Hi Roseanne- I was wondering if you could clarify my annuity calculation if I left (just resigning) the po. I am FERS 5-9-87 start date, clerk, level 7 with 26 and a half yrs in.. Waiting for the next early out but what if I decided to leave before an early out and defer my retirement. I am currently 49 yrs of age, my MRA is 56. I heard you can defer to age 60. Is that true? Would I start receiving a monthly check at age 60? What penalties would be taken out of my annuity? Any clarification would help, Thank You ER

A 3. – Hi ER, First we need to clear up a few things. Yes, if you resign, based on YOUR age and years of service you can defer your retirement until you reach age 60. (Because you already have 26.5). However, you don’t get the FULL value of your retirement, which includes the Special Supplement, which can be considered one penalty. You must be in a very specific situation for this to be a great move. One would be if you were going on to other employment that has great benefits. Because you won’t be getting health insurance or life insurance at the rates you currently pay as a postal employee. When you turn 60, you will need to initiate contact with OPM to begin to collect your annuity. As a second penalty, your “retirement” with OPM will not include federal life insurance or federal health benefits. If you are resigning, and don’t take your FERS contributions out, then below is the information you really need. It’s important enough to quote.

This is what regulations say about Deferred Retirement: “If you separate from service before you are eligible for an immediate annuity and you do not take a refund of your retirement contributions, you will be eligible for a deferred retirement benefits as soon as you attain the age that corresponds with the age and service combinations shown below. You will not be permitted to continue Federal Employees Health Benefits or Federal Employees Group Life Insurance. You are not eligible for the special retirement supplement”

Age Service
MRA 30
60 20
62 5
MRA 10 (reduced)

So that is the criteria, and it is the same criteria as regular retirement. Providing you are a full time employee and have been for some time, then you can simply use your high 3 average salary, and then times it by 1%. That figure is used times the number of years of service. Then that figure is divided by 12 for the gross monthly annuity. That first figure is without spousal benefits (and of course no life or health insurance�which REALLY is the biggest benefit of retirement. SO to add a bit to this�.you don’t have to wait until age 60, in your case, when you reach your MRA of 56, you will have more than the 30 years. It will take you 3.5 years to reach 30 years of service. It will take you 11 years to reach age 60, but only 7 years to reach your MRA. Roseanne

Q 4. – Hi Roseanne, Thanks for being so helpful to so many people. My question is this: I’d like to retire March 1, 2014. In order to be eligible (30 yrs) I need to buy back some of my work time at the IRS. I have my retirement papers ready to fill out including the buyback papers. My retirement counseling is at the end of November. Is that really enough time to retire? I was told I would have to pay the money back while I was still employed at the Post Office. I am a FERS employee and I am 59 years old. Thanking you in advance for your help to so many. J

A 4. – Hi J, NOT sure if you understand your retirement plan, but if you are 59, you don’t need 30 years to retire. You have your eligibility when you have 20 years and are 60, so I am going to assume that you are not wanting to wait until you turn 60 and want to retire. In your case, being 59 and not yet 60 & not wanting to wait until you turn 60, then yes you do need 30 years to retire. When you retire, there should be (in the big blue retirement booklet) a form that has “military buy back” information, which has to be paid back before retirement (but I have seen and have been told by many employees, that they have put the check for military buy back in with their retirement papers. But that is with the understanding that they have already sent off for the information and know the precise amount of money that needs to be paid back. However, there is no form in the retirement booklet for buy back prior federal service. I guess one question I would have for you, before you start to get twisted over this…because I can see you confusing the folks over at HRSSC! First off, your IRS service�..”should I buy back some of my work time” confuses me. What do you mean by buying back “some time”? As if you could buy back only a part of it?? There are “trigger dates” that federal time can be bought back, if your IRS time was non-career. If you were a career employee at the IRS and resigned, then pulled your money out of retirement, well that would be one case where you can buy it back. Generally IRS time (unless a census taker) is career time. I would suggest that you look in your eOPF (OR on the back of one of the sheets that was sent to you with your annuity estimate). On the annuity estimate (if NARCES), it outlines all military service, paid or unpaid and all federal service career or non-career. If you go into your eOPF, look for Form 50’s that show your IRS time. When you were hired, did you list your employment at the IRS on your employment application for the Post Office? The application specifically asks if you EVER had another federal job. And if all that was done correctly when you were hired, your “federal OPF” from your IRS employment, (which would have been ordered from the National Civilian records repository in St. Louis, MO), would have been “married up” (or co-mingled) with your postal OPF. So this information should already be in there, again if done correctly. When was your employment at the IRS, and how long was it? Roseanne

R 4.- The IRS time was back in the early 80’s. HR had sent me the form to buy back the old work credit in a separate envelope. It said if you are within 8 months of retirement, file it with your retirement papers. It was career time but the civil service contributions were refunded to me many years ago. Thanks, J

A4-. – Hi J, Yes, you can pay this back with your retirement paperwork, since HRSSC has sent you the form. DID you look on your eOPF history to SEE If the IRS is a part of your federal history? YOU MUST do that!! If you are now FERS and this IRS time is CSRS, the first thing I would do is look in my eOPF for an RTR report. I would be calling HRSSC and ask (immediately when they answer the phone) to speak to someone that can answer a PRECISE question�(because this is NOT going to be in a book that they can just flip a page to find the answer)�.about FERCA�Using that term pronounced fer-ca. The reason is because if you are FERS and you are buying back OLD CSRS time, it may be an issue as it relates to the retirement system you are in. This is why I am saying look in your eOPF history to see if it’s there. This may be a bigger issue than you know. Roseanne

Q 5. – Hi Roseanne, I have a quick question for you, my birthday is Jan. 9 and I reach MRA in 2015, I’m FERS and will have 34 total years with Military, and SL combined. My question is, does it really matter if I go on that date or wait till the end of that month. I heard for CSRS it’s good to retire at the beginning of a month, and for FERS to retire at the end of a month? What would happen if I left on Jan. 9, 2015 ? Thank you, in advance, Sincerely, JJ