Postal Retirement

Postal Retirement Q&A January 2016 by Roseanne Jefferson

Good Day Postal Employees……Happy New Year 2016!!!

Q 1.Hi Roseanne,  I am a RETIRED letter carrier (CSRS), my spouse is (CSRS/offset) & will be retiring April 1, 2016.  We both had always decided to take no survivor benefits, on each of our postal retirements, so when I retired I selected ” no spousal benefit” and maintained my own single health benefits.
Recently my spouse was diagnosed with cancer, and now insists on taking a survivor benefit for me.  I know with CSRS/Offset at age 62, my spouse will have to take social security and the remaining will be from the post office pension. My question is, if something was to happen after my spouse after turning 62,  where does her survivor benefit come from?  Does it come from a combining the pension and social security or just the pension. She will be 58 when she retires and also took only single health. Thank you LT
A 1. Hi LT,  I am very sorry to hear about your spouse’s illness.  A great first start, was the decision that you both made by taking single-single coverage, so that each of you are carrying your own FEHB.  That alone makes the transition of the health benefits (working) to health benefits (retired) very very easy.   When a CSRS/offset employee turns 62, then yes the CSRS component or (monthly pension check) is reduced because then Social Security plays a larger “financial” role in THAT particular retirement system (at age 62).
When you ask where does her survivor annuity come from…if she did the same as you did with your retirement paperwork, and not selected you for a spousal annuity, it would only come from one source…Social Security.  There wouldn’t be a combination of anything because you signed off on her retirement, because she signed off on yours.  As it stands right now, if you pre-decease her, she does not get any portion of your annuity at all.
Since both of you are federal/postal employees, that means that BOTH of you have “Individual” eligibility”” for benefits (life insurance & health insurance) under your “own” individual employment.  In THIS case, (and only in this case….because of all of the factors you have disclosed) you retired without leaving a spousal annuity for your spouse.  These are complex questions that I think I will use in the column……and I will try to explain the why’s of it….candidly, respectfully….but candidly.
When you don’t select the maximum spousal annuity, (regardless if FERS or CSRS), your spouse has to sign in front of a notary the form SF2801-2 (a part of your retirement paperwork) and it was notarized.   So if you pre-decease her, she has no spousal annuity with CSRS.  If she does the same, and you sign the 3107-2 then you also have no spousal annuity with CSRS/offset.   So the only “spousal monies” that would be available would be her Social Security check (after she turned 62). The same paperwork is required in her retirement package, as was in yours, when you don’t select the maximum spousal annuity.
When the CSRS/offset annuitant turns 62, OPM is going to recalculate the CSRS/offset annuity (monthly pension check) – it is going to be dramatically reduced at age 62, because she is then eligible to collect Social Security.  Not collecting Social Security will NOT stop the reduction by OPM.  Because THIS system: CSRS/offset,  SHE and the USPS paid full deductions into the Social Security fund….and as a CSRS/offset annuitant, she will receive a Social Security check that WILL NOT be affected by Windfall Elimination reductions.
CSRS annuitants – if eligible for a Social Security check, it is subject to the Windfall Elimination, but your CSRS annuity is not reduced.
CSRS/offset annuitants –  YOU ARE eligible for a full Social Security check at 62 – NOT subject to Windfall Elimination  BUT – OPM will reduce your CSRS/offset annuity check.
Keep in mind that YOU will fall under the “Windfall Elimination” any time that a CSRS (full CSRS), begins to collect their OWN Social Security check.  Even if you, defer, delay (your own SS because it is affected by the Windfall…,  should you begin to collect your wife’s Social Security (should she pass away))….. In that scenario, then another little money grabber comes along called “Government Pension Offset”  or GPO.  Let me read to you what it says about GPO.   “THE SOCIAL SECURITY SPOUSE’S BENEFIT IS OFFSET IF THE SPOUSE RECEIVES A GOVERNMENT PENSION FROM WORK NOT COVERED BY SOCIAL SECURITY.  THE SOCIAL SECURITY SPOUSAL OR SURVIVOR BENEFIT IS REDUCED $2.00 FOR EVERY $3.00 IN GOVERNMENT PENSION”
In real money…. just raw figures…if your CSRS annuity is gross $3000 per month, and your deceased spouse’s Social Security is $2000 per month, that looks like $1000 per month.  And if you have your own Social Security check that falls under Windfall Elimination, then in that case, if you were given the option to take your SS or her SS, typically…. her SS would be far more than your own, even with Windfall Elimination (for you) or the Government Pension Offset (for you).  I sure hope this was helpful to unwind this very complex process…whew!!  I mean just trying to explain it…..hey….you can’t make this #&%* up !!!  Roseanne


QQ 1. Hi Roseanne, Thank you for the information you supplied.  After the age of 62 is the survivor benefit only based on what CSRS is paying her or is it based on the combination of CSRS and social security.  And just one more question my spouse worked for the Dept. of Navy as a civilian when we first got married.  Worked from 1973 – 1977.  She resigned, and we filed for a refund of her retirement contributions… we needed the money, so the CSRS retirement deductions were REFUNDED to my spouse.  It was a bit over $1900, and we did not repay that to OPM to the CSRS fund.
From what I read if we don’t pay it back her pension would only be reduced by $18-$23 dollars.   Thank you again for all your information.  We will have a combine 70+ years of service and after all that time I just want to get it right.
AA 1. I guess if you keep referring to that statement “combination of CSRS/offset and Social Security”, that would mean, that you are NOT going to sign off on her retirement, and you going to go forward as a spousal annuitant?  Because that could be the only reason you keep referring to a combination of CSRS/offset and SS combination pension!!  I have narrated, that if she does what you did: you pass away,  NO spousal annuity for her, if she does the same as you did, she passes away, NO  spousal annuity for you. (And this all along was your plan.)   Now – you think that due to this medical condition, this may cause you to reevaluate your decisions. And that is a very wise thing to do.  I never find that it is a good idea to voluntarily “give up” a benefit that you have worked for, and the spousal annuity is a HUGE benefit.
As far as the survivor benefit for the spouse of a deceased CSRS/offset employee at age 62, as it relates to the Social Security portion, that complex figure really could only be calculated by someone at the  Social Security Office.  Since the CSRS monthly pension check is going to reduce dramatically when she turns 62, without knowing the “real” (in dollar figures) deduction for that….(SS would know), there is nothing for me to calculate from, and moreover, its the Social Security Office where this information is housed….all your postal employment.   Yea I know its a pain in the rear, but you just got to go to the Social Security office…..they have ALL the employment you have ever done and it gives you a better understanding of what the real dollar figures you are working with in retirement.  Get off your behind and do it… one can do this for you…no one!!!

“As far as the retirement contributions that were “refunded” from the Dept of Navy…paying it back now would make NO sense, it would cost too much for too little return.  ESPECIALLY since your spouse is CSRS/offset, and will have her monthly check reduced anyway when she turns 62.  It’s just not worth it.   I hope this is enough to give you either insight or clarity.” – Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne, I have read your column for many years and find you very helpful.  I have a few questions to ask you. Based on my RCD I intend to retire within two years. My question is “is there a better time of the year to minimize taxes in a year to retire, when I intend to carry 440 hrs of annual leave?” I know that retiring with 440 hrs of annual leave, the government will tax a large portion of my annual payment…. any suggestions?
2nd question:  I know every case is different but is it really expensive to choosing the annuity option in retirement pension and my TSP? What is generally the percentage from my  funds  taken from me? Would it be better to take  life annuity  on my TSP and pension or take it out incrementally  and  risk of running out of money. i do have longevity in my family.
3rd question:   I will be retiring with about 2400 hrs of sick leave how much more or less would I get per month extra,  because of this amount on my pension?  Is it at least 2 percent more on my pension yearly? I know i get more value for my time if I use it!! Thank you for your time.  MJ
A 2. Hi MJ  It is better to retire towards the end of the year…..especially if you are collecting Social Security. My personal favorite is November 30th.   As far as “is it better to choose an annuity option”….take a look at the monthly payment option with TSP (versus) an annuity, with or without a spousal “reduction”.  And by all means don’t confuse FERS pension/annuity with TSP annuity, they are so very different, BOTH a part of your retirement plan, but very different. And here too, in both retirement plans, if the employee is married,  a spousal annuity is the law unless that spouse signs a SF2801-2 (CSRS) or 3107-2 (FERS) and TSP-70.
As far as minimizing your taxes on that “Terminal Leave” pay check…..there is A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y NOTHING you can do about it, even someone I know (I won’t mention any names) changed her normal Single zero, federal and state taxes that last month of her employment-prior to retirement to Married 7….to do….just exactly what she thought would HELP minimize the THAT tax…wrong, wrong and wrong.
The taxes are “relative” to how much you made in a particular “2 week time frame”.  Clearly that much money (if made every 2 weeks) would typically suffer the same exact taxes as what you see on the last pay stub. And it is NOT just Federal and State that are inflated, Medicare, Social Security….all that….(better said…”who makes that much money every two weeks”) and if you do, that is what you would be taxed. It’s a tax chart, its not personal!!
As far as sick leave…each month for a FERS employee is about $4.12 added.  So if your sick leave converted to a year, then you are looking at $48.-$53. per month more for an additional year of sick leave added.  Roseanne
QQ 2. Hi Roseanne, thank you for your prompt response. I would like to clarify my question and to make sure i gave you all my facts.
1.   When you say I should retire late in the year to maximize my annual leave lump sum and minimize my tax liability …. do you mean that I should retire the last day in December.  I am a CSRS employee. will that mean I will receive my lump sum for the following tax year and not the year I worked?
Concerning sick leave:  you mentioned that I will receive about $50 extra a month if I have a year sick leave saved,  if I were FERS, but I am not, FERS I am Civil Service, will it be the same monthly amount, as it is for FERS?   Just to mention:   I will be 64 years old by the time I retire… I have a small part time job now in which I can collect social security when i reach 66.  Thanks for your time,
AA 2. Retirement dates should be geared for the end of the month.  In the case of a CSRS or CSRS/offset, as a CSRS employee, you are able to retire, either the 1st, 2nd or 3rd of A month and still be eligible for annuity THAT month….that is NOT THE SAME with FERS.
But my analogy is the same, retire the end of November…again, remember your asked me what I thought the best month was to retire, and the answer is still the same.  So you lose 2 maybe 3 days of annual that were advanced to you in the beginning of the year, you lose one holiday….but its probably the first holiday in years you will spend peacefully..and be able to miss out on all the BS at Christmas time.  Your Terminal Leave check comes in December….so if you are collecting SS, then you are sure to not have gone over the “earnings limit” for collecting Social Security, even with big time annual leave. As far as the monthly difference, for CSRS it’s about $8-$9 more per month for each month worked.  Roseanne
Q 3. Dear Roseanne, Thank you for all the information you provide. It’s good to have the advice of someone who isn’t trying to influence us to line their own pockets.  I have just retired and chose to keep the medical insurance I had while working.  It’s expensive, over $217 a month for just me.  Could you explain about having the medical insurance for 5 years before you retire.  I thought I  had to keep the exact company or policy, but I see I had a choice of Blue Cross Blue Shield, NALC,  GEHA etc, does that mean as long as it is FEHB insurance I can choose one of those during my next open season. I ordered the brochures so i can read and compare and check on providers before next year so I will be able to make an informed choice. Hope the question is clear. Thank you in advance for your help.  CC
A 3. Hi CC,  For some reason, I think that STILL so many of YOU ALL OUT THERE think that you have to have the SAME EXACT insurance 5 years prior to retirement.  NO that is NOT true!!  You just must be “Covered by an FEHB insurance plan”…five years IMMEDIATELY PRIOR to retirement.  As a retiree, you can change during open season just like being an employee.  Us annuitants have the same open season dates as employees, we just deal with OPM for Health Insurance changes (during open season) versus as an employee, HRSSC/Shared Services.  AND $216 a month is NOT expensive…when you consider that amount of money you pay as an annuitant for federal health benefits is the exact same as every WORKING (other) FEDERAL EMPLOYEE, and you see how much Medicare is going cost….I think you will appreciate the fabulous benefit of FEHB.  I hope that this has helped.  Roseanne
Q 4. Hello Roseanne, I have a question about health insurance after a postal employee retires. Does a wife need to get health insurance after her husband turns 65 and  starts getting medicare? I am 60 and my wife is 45 . Can she  carry my health insurance after I start getting medicare? Thanks WA
A 4. Hi WA,  As long as you have had your federal health benefits 5 years immediately prior to retirement, (regardless of which plan…even if you changed every single year for the last 5 years….)  you are eligible to carry your health insurance into retirement, and of course you can carry the family plan, you have as an employee.  And provided you select a “spousal annuity benefit” for your spouse in the retirement paperwork, that will give her eligibility to be covered by FEHB Health Insurance, even if you were to pass away, and a monthly spousal annuity to move than cover the costs.  Roseanne
Q 5. Roseanne,  If you could assist me with a few question regarding buying back my casual time. I was on the USPS retirement website and saw your name and info regarding assistance with answering questions employees have regarding buy back of casual employment time.   I worked as a  casual for 10 months in 1975. I planned to retire 1/1/2016. I have 40 years and 5 months of total service time including my 10 months of casual time. I have 1 year and 9 months of sick leave accrued. For a total of 42 years and 2 months time , as of 1/1/2016.
My question is how much will it cost me to buy back my casual time back, for the period of time in 1975 where I made $8.00 per hours for about a 35 hour work week , for the 10 month period? Can you give me a guess of what the dollar amount may be?  My goal  is  achieve the 41 years, 11 month time for 80 % annuity level of pay which I will achieve, if I buy back the leave. If I don’t buy back the leave, then I will have a decrease in my annuity, less than 80%, for less years if service credited.
If the buy back cost  is too expensive, then I may have to make  a decision to work until 7/1/2016 . I would appreciate your advice on this matter.G
A 5. Hi G You really need  to order an annuity estimate to get a better idea of what you are really looking at. Call Shared Services at 1-877-477-3273. Once you get (unless you have one), that estimate, I’d be better able to answer that question, and tell you some things you may not know before you venture out to do this. Roseanne
QQ 6. Roseanne,  I have the annuity estimate and I have had the retirement counseling a few weeks ago. The employee was as lost as everyone else was….and she could not answer all of my questions. G
AA 6. Hey G,  Let me tell you what each month gains you….about $8-$10 dollars a month.  So killing yourself to get to 41 / 11 (or any month that makes you go OOOHH…) is kind of crazy, because you get paid for all years and full months.  So as an example, if you did work 41/11, but decide to retire a month sooner,  you would lose about $8.00 per month! OMG RETIRE!!!
As far as buying back your casual time…just the time frame alone for all of that to be completed, you would probably be well beyond July 2016.  That process takes quite a while.  Some employees have waited a year or more for those types of actions to even be addressed, let alone processed.  And processed to the point that it shows in your Form 50 history, where it adds to your overall years of service (for retirement calculations) ( I know !!)  which is what you are trying to do in the first place. My opinion –   move on without it.  But if you are going to pursue that avenue to buy back this casual time, you need to get started now.  HRSSC/Shared Services is who you need to call to initiate this action.    Roseanne
Q 7. I am a retired USPS city carrier (CSRS annuitant) and was hired back as a city carrier assistant  (holiday term) under the National Defense Authorization Act.  If I was injured during this four week period and it involved a claim with OWCP, would my retirement status or pay be affected?  Thank you for any insight on this question.MAB
A 7 Hi MAB, I am not sure how that would affect your CSRS annuity.  But if it is an accepted OWCP claim, then they probably would only pay for the medical aspect of the injury….I wouldn’t rock the boat by trying to go for “compensation” that to me is opening up a can of worms that may NOT turn out good for you.  Roseanne
QQ 7. Thank you Roseanne for your quick response. Your last line addresses my concern, in the case I was severely injured (posssibly permanent) and recovery goes beyond the four week period, that can of worms may be opened even against my wishes. With the amount of driving, along with the number of parcels I am delivering on slippery steep driveways and several stairsteps to the door injury is a possibility, especially for someone in their 60’s.
AA 7. You began the email with IF I was injured…..and so I would imagine my last line ought to concern you……Ok so not to be an ass here, WHY….WHY… WHY…would you do the same thing you retired from, knowing better than ANYONE the risks of being a carrier? And the added risk of your age, by your own admission!!?   I am always baffled why retirees go back as a TRC…or any holiday casual. I know you going to say it’s Christmas and the wage is decent. You retired to get away from the “crazy”….but you went back for “Christmas crazy”….and that ALONE just blows my mind….because everyone of us, in every position, in any place, city, town…postal anything…whatever…..employee…all of us KNOW what Christmas crazy is in their working postal environment….who goes back for that!!!!
But this is one of the reasons I always say if you want to work after retirement, any job ANY JOB but federal… can’t really know from what perspective OPM will come with should you, your doctor, the postal service & OWCP, have a difference of opinion as it relates to your injury.   Good luck, I hope everything works out for you.  Roseanne
Till we speak again…………. Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A February 2016 by Roseanne Jefferson

Good Day Postal Employees!!! I hope this year has been a great start for all of us!! Let’s begin……..

Q 1. Good morning Roseanne, I am going on a detail in a few weeks, as an EAS at a higher level. Will that detail count towards my high 3 for retirement? What number do they do by, my base pay or my pay for the year? Thank you for any help you can give me. ES

A 1. Hi ES, Any time you work a higher level position, for it to have a REAL impact towards your High 3 average salary…it must be consecutive in the last 3 years of employment. So what do I mean by that? As an example, if you were to work higher level for two weeks in March 2012 and then not work higher level until two weeks in December 2012; then higher level in April 2013 for 4 months…. that’s not truly’s sporadic (it counts!!) but not in any real financial way for this to be an issue really for anyone….I will explain….in this scenario why:

Why : Because it was so long ago…that NOW (2016) your High 3 average salary is higher than what that higher level pay was in March 2012 and December 2012, and those 4 months in March of 2013. Based on rules and regulations a true higher level position requires a certain period of time prior to the higher-level pay beginning, with appropriate documentation. (Whether they are following the regs or not, all you care about…is it showing in your High 3). In order to ensure that all your money is going to be calculated toward your high three average salary, you must see this on your paycheck stub. It HAS to show that higher level status on the pay stub ( & remember it’s really the last 3 yrs. that will count, as it relates to increasing your retirement). This scenario includes an employee that was demoted from a higher level, like EAS-25….and then the PO kept their sorry ass around for a couple of years as an EAS-17 in some BS job, to allow them to retire. (To avoid the obvious!!…I don’t need to go there…you ALL feel me). That’s one scenario is where the higher level that would be calculated for that employee, EAS-25 downgrade to EAS-17) …because when he retires, his EAS-17 salary will NEVER reach what he was making as an EAS-25. (I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT ANYONE SPECIFICALLY…I AM USING REAL INFORMATION AND CASE STUDIES OF A VARIETY OF EMPLOYEES…OUTCOME THE SAME).

BUT ALWAYS KEEP THIS IN MIND – that when your annuity estimate is ordered, that annuity estimate will NEVER pick up the higher level pay (on the actual estimate). The reason for that is the computer uses the LAST 3 YEARS of our Form 50 history, (& typically a Form 50 is not generated when you are placed in a higher level position), unless its for an extended period of time. So in reality, this Annuity Estimate is just a
“Snap-Shot” of what the computer sees as your last 3 years of salary history. The computer is based on averages – the average employees’ Hi 3 Average Salaries are typically the last three years of employment, your higher level is not going to show….even if in the last 3 years.

All of the financial information is not yet at OPM. Once OPM gets the financial records transmitted from Eagan, MN – it will only be then that OPM know’s of your higher level (this will be after your Form 50 for Retirement is processed). Because the financial records are transmitted by Eagan, after the SF Form 50 for Retirement is processed.. The annuity estimate says estimate and that’s why – it IS JUST an estimate. Only until the records from Eagan get transmitted to OPM – the only thing that they have to go on at OPM is your form 50 history. As far as numbers…your base pay is used, or better stated your Form 50 Salary history for the the year?? The increase (by being detailed into a higher level position) is not going move your retirement income much, especially if the detail is only a few weeks, and/or sporadically. Do for the experience- not the $…the money is nominal. Roseanne

1a. Q . Thank you so much for your reply, but I am still confused on where your high 3 comes from. Is it just base pay, or does it include all of your overtime too? That is the number one question that everyone always asks. ES

1a. ES Response – Just as information: Retirement 101: Your annuity (CSRS or FERS) is calculated by your HI-3 average salary. It is THE YEARLY SALARY (that is your base pay), that is located on your Form 50. Those last 3 years are generally your last high (3) salaried years.

OVERTIME- Sunday PREMIUM- Night DIFFERENTIAL….EME (for Rural Carriers)…NONE OF THOSE are added when calculating your retirement annuity, because your retirement is based on your BASE SALARY Higher level DOES count (why)…. because it’s not about EXTRA money, – it’s about an increase (in level) and the increase is reflected in the base salary (which is what your retirement calculations are based upon). And when on a “true HL detail”…the base of THAT salary is higher. Your annuity is calculated on your Hi 3 base annual salaries. Higher level really has impact when you are in HL detail in the last 3 years…JUST prior to retirement. I hope that cleared it up for you. Roseanne

1b Q. Thank you so much….it absolutely…really does clear it up…and no one knows how to explain this…no one. Thank you!

Q 2. Roseanne, Thank you for your blog. I read as often as I can. A question came up in our office and I knew you could answer it. If a retired Postal employee is still using the Postal TSP funds after retirement to maintain their funds then passes away, does their spouse receive these funds as beneficiary or do these funds get lost somewhere? Perplexed in MT

A 2. If the former postal employee took out an ANNUITY, with Metropolitan Life or another Annuity with another company or is receiving a “monthly payment” from TSP….so just saying the word “funds” doesn’t tell me anything on how the money is being “dispersed” to the retiree. I cannot answer that question unless I know HOW the monies are being paid, & from what source. The question is not clear at all. Roseanne

Q 2a. Thanks for such a quick response. To increase further the money, I would be in G fund or stocks and bonds and at retirement the employee doesn’t plan to draw from them but wishes to leave them untouched for his spouse to use later as needed. Thank you

A 2a. In YOUR (and I use that word loosely) case, (& simply on the strength of this email)… You didn’t answer my question, nor did I answer yours…and then you thanked me …for what? with…another question?…….. Just based on what you responded I would strongly encourage you to find a good solid financial advisor to lead you to make good financial decisions. Sometimes we think we know what we’re doing when it comes to money, and we are so absolutely sure we are right – but then many of you find out, you are so profoundly wrong. Please take my advise and find yourself somebody who understands annuities and 401K’s and who understands the properties of our TSP, ( our 401K). There are too many options and variables when dealing with money that is considered 401K. Be wise with the decisions, there are many wolves out there!! Roseanne {Omission of partial response….below is a “summation” of what was included in the response email…a bit “cleaned up” though!}



I have always said I am not a financial advisor…I am a federal retirement expert….not because I say, but federal documentation says I am. This is one area that needs to have some one you can look at face to face…understand what is really being said about this TSP (401K) money. Integrity and full disclosure about what happens to the TSP money in EVERY SINGLE SCENARIO that one (YOU) can come up with, is the true task of the “financial expert” that is giving you FULL disclosure….of YOUR MONEY!!




Q 3. Hello Roseanne, I currently have 33 yrs. & 6 mo. of credible service, and I have met my MRA being 57 years of age. If I retire in June will my postal earnings to that date put me over the earnings limit for the Social Security or is that amount calculated after I retire. Thank you for your time. JL

A 3. HI JL – A very fast and simple answer YES it will….this is why most retire at the very end of the year, or the very beginning if they are FERS….because generally by Mar or April, (especially if you have overtime), you will have exceeded the earning limitation to collect Social Security….for that year, because you “made more than $15,800 (figure has increased slightly for 2016), and that KILLS the Social Security for that year. I hope this has made sense to you …..and the why’s of it. Roseanne

Q 4. Hi Roseanne (again), Well, I did it! I retired as of 12/31. I love it. Not having that stress is almost life-changing. I got my first check which I know is not the full amount. I was informed that it would take a few months before I get the right amount. The question I have is –how is the FERS supplement paid? Will it be in the same check as the retirement? Was I supposed to do something to make sure I got that? I still haven’t received anything from OPM. If I just need to be patient that’s ok. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t supposed to do something else. Thanks so much for your information, throughout the years. Your monthly articles were so helpful (not just to me, everyone in my office…many people know about YOU). I just couldn’t take the PO anymore. Take care, and again much thanks.

A 4. Hi, Because ALL FERS employee’s are NOT ELIGIBLE for the Special Supplement……until OPM has fully completed your retirement…will they even KNOW you are eligible for the Special Supplement.

That being said, You didn’t say WHEN you got the first check, keep in mind (that was FERS ONLY not Special Supplement)….so lets just follow that date….your next check should be FERS ONLY..(about 22-35 days after the first check). About 25-30 days later is the Balance check. That balance check should be (1) FULL retirement check and (if) they over/or underpaid (generally underpaid by only a few dollars) you for the first 2 interim checks…that (addition or subtraction) will be added or reduced when you get the third check (balance check) is paid.

Between the time the balance check comes and the first REGULAR check….(that means your retirement has been completed)…look in the bank…(NOW UNDERSTAND THIS INFORMATION IS IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THE SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT EVERYONE IS NOT)
around the time that the balance and first regular check comes in….OPM will have deposited about 2-3 months worth of your Special Supplement. Keep in mind it is paid (again if eligible) until age 61 and 11 months. According to my clients….there is no “HEY GIRL/ HEY DUDE letter from OPM saying…..”I’m dropping your Special Supplement in the bank. OR “Yo’ you ain’t eligible for the Special Supplement….nothing….so this is what I get from everyone…not an exact science…but pretty accurate. I hope this has helped you ease your tension about the Special Supplement. Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, Thank You for helping so many postal employees. I had a work related injury to my arm and had surgery in 2015. I am back to work now but on restrictions, I work 6 hours a day. I am turning 54 in June and I have about 3 years until I can retire. My first question is..If I continue these hours, how does drawing comp effect my high 3 average or does it? My second question is…..I will qualify for the special supplement if I retire at age 57 (33 years). Are federal or state taxes taken out of the Special Supplement? 3rd question…Does getting the supplement reduce my regular SS when I’m 62 or beyond? Thanks again…God bless you…TS

A 5. Hi TS, Yes…writing this column and answering all of the readers questions….MUST be UNDERSTOOD….this obviously is a labor of love. I’m not paid for writing or answering emails…….I do it because everyone seems so lost and no one will tell them what is really the truth. And there are mountains of misinformation I see every day, in emails received from employees. It doesn’t seem to get any better, but increasingly worse.

So if you are working 6 hours and I’m assuming OWCP is paying for the other 2 hrs per day. That will have some financial consequence when you retire. You will never see it on an annuity estimate because the annuity estimate is simply a “snap shot” of your last 3 years of “salaried” form 50 history. So yes it will have an effect in your FERS annuity…(but not enough for you to get “heart burn” over).

If you retire with 30 years or more, and are at your MRA, or over, then yes you will be eligible for the Special Supplement. No taxes are taken out the Special Supplement, (because in theory….it’s the replacement for Social Security) and it is paid by OPM not Social Security. It will last until age 61 and 11 months….because regardless whether you take Social Security at 62, the Special Supplement will STOP. I hope this has helped clear that up for you. Roseanne

Till we speak again………….Roseanne

What is the FERS Special Supplement?

What is the FERS Special Supplement?

If you meet certain requirements, you will receive a Special Retirement Supplement which is paid as an annuity until you reach age 62.

This supplement approximates the Social Security benefit earned while you were employed by the Federal government. You may be eligible for a Special Retirement Supplement if you retire: After Minimum Age Retirement (MRA) and with 30 years of service; or at age 60 with 20 years of service. If you transfer to FERS from CSRS you must have al least one full calendar year of FERS covered service to qualify for the supplement. If you have earnings from wages of self-employment that exceeds the Social Security annual exempt amount, your Special Retirement Supplement may be reduced or stopped.

How is the Special Retirement Supplement computed?

FERS Covered Employees ONLY: The supplement is computed as if you were age 62 and eligible for a Social Security benefit when the supplement begins. By law, OPM first estimates what your full career (40 years) Social Security benefit would be. Then it calculates the amount out your civilian service under FERS, and reduces the estimated full career Social Security Benefit accordingly. For example, if your estimate full career Social Security benefit is $1000 monthly and you have worked 30 years under FERS, OPM will divide 30 by 40 (0.75) and multiply ($1000 x 0.75=$750 monthly). The result would be your Special Retirement Supplement, before any reductions.

Do salary or wages earned after I retire affect this Supplement?

FERS Covered Employees ONLY: Yes. Your Special Retirement Supplement, like Social Security benefits, is subject to an earnings test. It is reduce if you earn more than the exempt amount of earnings, (determined each year by Social Security) in the immediately preceding year. Under OPM rules, the earnings history does not include certain monies you may receive, and these amounts are not included in the earnings test:

1. earnings during the year in which an employee separates for an immediate retirement
2. pensions, or annuities paid as retirement income, including a FERS annuity
3. your terminal annual leave payment, or
4. a separation incentive

How long will I continue to receive the Special Retirement Supplement?

The Special Retirement Supplement will continue until the earlier of the (1) the last day of the month before the first month for which you would be entitled to Social Security benefits, or (2) the last day of the month in which you reach age 62.

Can I continue to that the Special Retirement Supplement after age 62 if I’m not eligible or don’t apply for Social Security benefits?

The supplements ends at age 62, regardless or whether or not you receive benefits from Social Security.

Postal Retirement Q&A March 2016 by Roseanne Jefferson

Good Day Postal Employees! I am taking the month of April and May off from writing the column. I will be having hip replacement surgery in April and will need some time to recuperate!!

Q 1. Hi Roseanne, I have worked 33 years (15 as a full time in one craft) & 18 as a part time regular mailhandler. I am under CSRS . I have received my estimate which includes 1048 hours or 6 month of sick leave. I need to have out patient surgery, and the recovery time is approximately 5-7 months. I can see my pro-ration factor is 84% . If I continue to work or have the surgery and use the sick time at my part time hours will this effect my pro-ration factor? Will my estimate be effected or will it be a wash since the service time will be longer ? My thought was that the longer I work part time the lower my pro-ration will be ?

My husband also works as a letter carrier he carries the family health plan. If we don’t take the spousal annuity. Will I still be eligible to elect a single health plan after our daughter turns 26 in two years If I am retired? I am 56 now. Thank you TV

A 1. Hi TV, well thats a lot of questions…..lets try to take them apart separately.

If you know that you are at the 84% pro-ration factor (that is one HURDLE I don’t have to break down and explain!!). That being said, you are a FT now, so when taking your sick leave (at the “power” of 8 (hrs) per day (which is to your advantage)) those FT hours of 8 daily WILL assist to mitigate the reduction (pro-ration) of your retirement. So yes you are correct in your logic about how that will work.

Health Benefits….YOU are SO on the WRONG track. You are forgetting that YOU have “individual” rights to FEHB on the merits “of YOUR employment” (separate and apart from your postal husband….exactly like me). Your ability to continue federal health benefits (while working OR retired)….. has nothing to do with your husband, your eligibility comes from YOUR EMPLOYMENT not his!!

So if you have no children that your husband is carrying on the family policy, both of you during open season should EACH go single-single. It’s much cheaper. So ALWAYS the question comes up that on your SF Form 50 history it will not show the 5 years of continuous coverage (because your spouse was the one paying for the policy)…so you have have “continuous coverage” and will always have 5 years of continuous coverage prior to retirement (its just not YOU paying the premium).

Now that we got that cleared up make sure you go into your eOPF and print out some of the older SF2809’s in your and your’s husband’s file. Back in the day (pre postalease) all copies of those health benefit documents (SF 2809; SF2810) are part of your “official” federal record. Print some out like when you were hired, when you changed to hubby insurance…all so that you can show your 5 yrs continuous coverage. I hope you will take the time to research this as it will save you quite a bit of money in retirement by going single single…not single plus 1…..Roseanne

Q 2. Roseanne, I have always thought that Military buy back was added on when you reach MRA and 30 years like sick leave. Seems I might just be mistaken? I shared this info with a fellow employee and he felt this was incorrect . He called HR and was told that they can combine Military and Postal time to reach 30 for retirement. I was able to find very little information on this but did run into one Federal Retirement page that said, combining Military buy back with civilian time could lead to earlier retirement!

So this is the way he feels his coarse will take. He is 46 and has 12 years USPS time 12 years Military buy back time and he thinks he has 8 years left to work. I said if he’s correct in the combined times he needs to work to MRA (56y 8m) which is about 11 years 8 months. Which of any of this is true? SS

A 2. Hi SS Military buy back IS added to your overall years and months of service that is used to calculate your retirement annuity.
You can combine your “bought back military time” with your postal time for “added years” which will add to the annuity. BUT, you still must meet the age and year requirement.

30 yrs with an MRA (or older) ..or
20 years at age 60 (or older)..or
5 years at age 62 (or older)

So when an employee MEETS any 1 of those 3 above, that is full retirement. And yes with someone who has 12 years in the postal service now, and bought back 12 years of military…that is 24 years of federal service, and needs 6 years to complete a full 30….but still must work until their MRA (in this case I am assuming by the 56/8mo that you understand everyone does NOT have the same MRA) Just so we are clear, even if you have 35 years (postal only or combined with bought back military) and are 55, you are STILL not eligible for FULL retirement.

AND LET ME ADD THIS, …..OPM does NOT pay (in the Special Supplement) for those 12 military years…OPM only pay for postal years in the Spec Supplement. That is what is true.


Q 3. Hi Roseanne! First of all thank you so much for your insight into the many nuances to retirement from the PO. My question concerns credible service and the special retirement supplement. I started as a letter carrier 5/25/1996.

My MRA is 56 on 11/15/2019. At this point, I will have 23 years 5 months USPS time and 10 years military time which I bought back.
I am a FERS employee. On my annuity estimate my RCD & ACD is 5/06/1986. The annuity estimate lists the retirement type as Optional. Does my military time qualify me to retire at MRA with 30 years? Or would I fall into the 5% reduction every year before 62 category? 30% Yikes! And, if I do qualify for the unreduced retirement, would I qualify for the FERS Special Retirement Supplement? Thank you for your help. VS

A 3. Hi VS, First you are welcome, I know so many employees are still so much in the dark!! That is why I write this column!!

So your EOD is 05/25/96 (and if you stayed a carrier you know that is your seniority date); RCD & ACD show a different date of 05/06/1986), which appears that you have bought your military time back. Military buy back IS added to your overall years and months of service that is used to calculate your retirement annuity.

You can combine your “bought back military time” with your postal time for “added years” which will add to the annuity. BUT, you still must meet the age and year requirement for full annuity. Otherwise it is a retirement called MRA+10, (which is code for reduction AND not eligible for the Spec Supplement…ever).

30 yrs with an MRA (or older) ..or
20 years at age 60 (or older)..or
5 years at age 62 (or older)
The only thing that changes this is Early Out or Disability Retirement

So when an employee MEETS or exceeds any one of those 3 above that is full retirement.

Q 4. Hi Roseanne, So, if the SRS is reduced if you earn more than the exempt amount of earnings, (determined each year by Social Security) in the immediately preceding year, is the “immediately preceding year” the last year employed as a postal worker before retirement or are they referring to earnings from self employment ( if a person was self employed)? In other words, will my postal salary (earnings) from 2015 eliminate me from receiving the SRS, if I retire March 31 2016, because I made over 15,700.00 in 2015?
Thank you Roseanne, Sincerely,EP

A 4. I think this is what you are looking for….Roseanne

Do salary or wages earned after I retire affect this Supplement?

FERS Covered Employees ONLY:
Yes. Your Special Retirement Supplement, like Social Security benefits, is subject to an earnings test. It is reduce if you earn more than the exempt amount of earnings, (determined each year by Social Security) in the immediately preceding year. Under OPM rules, the earnings history does not include certain monies you may receive, and these amounts are not included in the earnings test:

1. earnings during the year in which an employee separates for an immediate retirement
2. pensions, or annuities paid as retirement income, including a FERS annuity
3. your terminal annual leave payment, or
4. a separation incentive

R 4. Thank you Roseanne, I was afraid that my postal salary that I make now would affect my supplement when I start receiving it after I retire march 31 2016.

Q 5. Hi Roseanne; I am postal retiree and listed my spouse as beneficiary on my postal annuity. In addition, I chose to take a term life policy and added a $5000.00 policy on my spouse. He recently passed away. I sent everything to OPM for processing. How long will I have to wait for the FEGLI insurance to be paid? Thanks J

A 5. Hi J, I am so sorry for your loss, it must be a very difficult time right now and my condolences to you and your family. With OFEGLI, it typically takes 6-12 weeks to receive the insurance money. Roseanne

Q 6. Hi Roseanne! Thank you so much for being so helpful to all of us who are navigating the USPS retirement waters! I retired on 2/1 and have a question about the Form 50 I just received. It states ‘Last Day in Pay Status 01/30/2016’….but there are 31 days in the month of January. I need credit for January 31 to give me 29 years of employment! As I am no longer a postal employee and haven’t received any information from OPM yet, is this something I should worry about? (Number 86 processed date also says 01-30-2016.)

I just turned 60 on January 18th and have been looking forward to getting out of this hot mess since last year! My husband is a 3-year USPS retiree and says it’s the best job he’s ever had! I can’t wait to find out! Thanks again! C

A 6. Hi C, I am sure that the 1/30 date was for the end of a pay period….but it should reflect what YOU wrote on your application for retirement. You filled the retirement paperwork and it should reflect precisely the date you put on it..And you are right it should really say 1/31 and exactly for the reason you think. For the Special Supplement, they only pay full years not months as FERS does. You are aware that if you retired a month earlier you would be paid for 29 years and 10 months. I hope this helped ease your issue on this. You will be receiving some forms from HRSSC and eventually in a few weeks you will begin to receive documentation of OPM’s receipt of your retirement paperwork….be calm….it will all work out. Roseanne

Till we speak again…Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A June 2016 by Roseanne Jefferson

Good Day Postal Employees!!

I am back !!!! (on the mend,…but semi-back). Getting older is not for the faint of heart. Thank you to all who have sent well wishes to me during these past few months. Physical therapy is brutal but critical l!!

Q 1. Hello Roseanne, hope your on the mend and hip is doing better…. I had sent you an email in april about the medicare part B and our health plan…you said don’t do anything until you get back to me….so I was just checking in…I know your probably overwhelmed with P.T and answering your emails and questions for the articles you write…and not sure the people at the NALC health plan would give me the complete info needed …thanks for your time…looking forward to hearing back…

A 1. Hi, I am on the mend…slow..but coming along. So this email address I am going to give you is a booklet regarding FEHB & Medicare. Its about 17 pages…..PRINT OUT…ITS WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD!! The booklet sums up on the top of page 6 what I want you to read…not because I say…but because of what IT says in the Federal publication.
Follow it exactly..Roseanne

Q 2. Good evening hop-a-long!!! I trust the procedure went well and you are back to being great. My question is, when exactly is ones Retirement date eligibility? I have a couple of coworkers who state they were notified of eligibility the day before their 56th birthday. These are FERS employees. Anxiously awaiting your return to PostalMag. Thanks T

A 2. Hi T, Typically an Annuity Estimate will go out when the employee reaches THEIR MRA, and have 10 or more years of federal service. Contrary to popular believe there are some employees that are FERS that do have an MRA of 55 and some 57. Your MRA is determined by your date of birth, even in some years broken down by which year & month that you were born. That is why FERS employees, can have very different MRA dates. The first question was when is exactly retirement eligibility date? Again, age and years of credible service will determine this.
And although that was the question you wrote – I think that is so NOT the norm (a FERS age 55) that I think you are talking about an MRA+10 eligibility – where the employee meets their MRA but has only 10 or more years of service. Laying in bed so I can’t get up and give the exact years of FERS age break down but ….as stated above some FERS employees have an MRA of 55. Roseanne

Q 3.My name is J.L.Retired. I retired April 4 2004 12yrs ago at age 56. Visited Social Security office yesterday, May 10 2016 was told I needed a letter of award from Postal Service (C S R S) . How do I go about getting one. Thanks J

A 4. Hi J, an award letter sounds to me like OWCP issues…injured on the job….disability retirement. As a CSRS employee, SS is not a part of your retirement plan. So obviously there is way more to this question than has been presented here. Roseanne

Q 5. I received a letter from OPM stating i needed to make a decision about making a deposit of 1691.00 for part time work from 1982 thru 1988. could i get your input on this matter Thanks H

A 5. Hi H, Without knowing ANY of the circumstances……almost always its a good idea (if you are eligible to) to make that deposit.

Q 6. Hello Roseanne; Thank you isn’t enough for the work you do with this column. My question is: When I was young, I worked as a seasonal park ranger in various National Parks in the west. I am soon to retire from the USPS, on FERS. Am I correct, that if I were to again work as a seasonal park ranger, the pay I would receive for that, since they’re part of the federal govt., would affect my FERS payment ? Thanks J

A 6. Hi J, Wow….this is a tricky one….OPM allows for retired federal employees to work “certain” temporary jobs WITHOUT it affecting their retirement. In the USPS, the TRC (Temporary Rural Carrier) is one and at one time PMR (Postmaster Relief). Those jobs HAD to have OPM approval, showing that we as an organization (USPS) attempted every way to hire someone that was NOT a federal retiree.

I am not sure how that would work with seasonal Park Ranger. I do know that retired federal workers have been census takers, and that did not affect their federal pension…considering the short time frame that sounds within reason. But what I do know is this….once you work more than 180 days(does not have to be consecutive) in a calendar year, then OPM will begin deduct from your annuity. Roseanne

R 6. Wow, glad I asked, as I thought I was outta luck, period. These seasonal appointments never exceed 180 days ! I’ll be sure to ask any park, etc. involved, as well as the OPM, if I do got this route, about any conflicts. Speaking of which, I assume that 180 day limit applies only to federal jobs, not private enterprise, correct ? Thanks again, hope your surgery went well !

Rose: Yes you are correct….any job you can work in private sector or even state, city or county job too is OK. It’s only federal jobs that have this issue of effecting you annuity. Roseanne

Final- Thank you again, and I apologize for bothering you in your recovery; I didn’t notice until after I sent my first message. Best to you, J

Q7. Hi. I am eligible for the special social security supplement when I retire this July Do I have to apply for the supplement or is it automatically added in to my monthly retirement? thanks

A 7. If you are eligible – then the Spec Supp will come (from OPM). OPM will calculate the amount of the Spec Supp & it will be deposited to the same account that your FERS retirement check will be deposited in. OPM pays the Special Supplement. Roseanne

Q 8.I likely won’t retire until the end of March, 2018 (I’ll be 59 1/2) but I have just a few questions I’m hoping you’ll help me with.
Is Social Security taxable at the end of the year when we do our taxes? If so, can either the Feds or State withold or do I hold some aside to pay up at the end of the year Re: the supplement:
Your time is greatly appreciated. We do have the internet at our disposal to look things up but still things are confusing. It’s too bad USPS doesn’t have local HR anymore. Thanks,GT
A 8.Hi GT All income is taxable…..just at very different percentages..Yes you can set aside (withhold) for SS (this is your choice).
(1) YES you are to contact the SS office 6 months prior to turning 62, since (if (your are) ELIGIBLE)) because the Special Supplement WILL end (2) when you are 61 and 11 months . And as far as the Special Supplement, OPM is the agency that pays you, NOT the Social Security Administration. If eligible OPM will begin paying you the special supplement once the retirement is completed, and has been determined and validated that you are eligible for the Special Supplement. Roseanne

Q 9. Hi Roseanne, I am a USPS FERS employee who will be retiring at the end of Oct. with 30 yrs. and 26 days of service. I have been taking quite a bit of LWOP due to the low mail volume in our office. My question is, will too much LWOP affect my retirement date? I know that I lose AL and SL for using over 80 hours but do I also lose service time? I don’t want to use 160 hours of LWOP and then find out that I lost a month of service time. Thanks, John

A 9. Hi John, LWOP is counted against you (in years of service)..if you have MORE than 6 months in one calendar year. Less than that, has no bearing or negative effect to the retirement calculations. Roseanne

Q 10. Hello, I’m a 60 year old craft (ET) at USPS. I’ve been missing quite a bit of work do to health issues. My supervisor and manager have been pushing me to apply for disability retirement. I only have 9 years with the USPS and no military. By submitting my forms for disability retirement, did I just give them an easy way to get rid of me with no annuity? in other words did I just make a really bad move? Worried! KO

A 10. Hi KO You need to Shared Services at 1-877-477-3273, option #5 and request a disability annuity estimate and tell them on the phone that you would like to set up for application for disability retirement. They will send you the estimate and the blue booklet to begin the process. They will assist you during this process. Get started right away, this is a long and arduous process. Begin now, by getting much of your medical information ready, as you will need all of that for this. You are eligible to apply for disability retirement with only 9 years, I suggest you begin now. Roseanne

Till we speak again…………….Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A July 2016 by Roseanne Jefferson

Good Day Postal Employees….

Q 1. Hi Roseanne I hope all is well with you and yours. I have not kept up with your articles lately, so I hope you will answer a question. I retired 2 months ago, and it is great. If I go to work for the county, will it affect my benefits? I know you have said in the past, do not work part time USPS or any federal jobs.. The job is part time so total income is not an issue. Thank you DA

A 2. Hi DA, The key factor here is….IS THE JOB FEDERAL?? If this is a state, city or county job, then your CSRS/FERS pension will not be affected. However, if FERS, keep in mind that if you are collecting the Special Supplement (which is the replacement for Social Security)….that will be affected by your part time job. How much or to what degree, I am not sure, but I am sure it will affect the money that is a “replacement” for SS (which is paid because you are retired and not yet age 62). But county job…you are good to go. Good luck!! Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne, I am a city carrier with 25 years total service, 19 postal (6) military.
Can I freeze my retirement and take an annuity if they offer a vera or do I have to wait till I’m 62? Thank you

ANSWER 2. Everything has no federal regulations to support that move….at least in the manner suggested…”freeze your retirement & take an annuity IF they offer a VERA…”or wait until age 62: .” “ Just the way this question is posed the question tells me we need to look at the FERS Retirement Eligibility Requirements:

MRA (55-57) Depends upon your date of birth

Full Retirement- Full Immediate Retirement
Age (MRA) + 30 yrs (or more) of credible service
Age (60) + 20 yrs (or more) of credible service
Age (62) + 5 yrs (or more) of credible service

Early Out
Age (50) + 20 yrs (or more) of credible service
Any Age + 25 yrs (or more) of credible service

Deferred Retirement:
Age (MRA) + 30 yrs (or more) of credible service
Age (60) + 20 yrs (or more) of credible service
Age (62) + 5 yrs (or more) of credible service

MRA + 10 yrs (or more) of credible service

That is NOT full retirement, it is reduced!! Your FERS annuity calculation will be reduced by 5% for each year you are under 62. So if retiring at your MRA and have as an example 25 years..that monthly annuity calculation (based on your high-3 average salary X number of years worked, would then be reduced by 30%, And additionally you will NOT be eligible for the Special Supplement as you would in the Full Retirement. In an Early Out Retirement, you are eligible for that Special Supplement, (if at MRA), if not at MRA, once you turn that MRA age your Special Supplement will begin. The Special Supplement is paid by OPM.

Keep in mind that in a Deferred Retirement (provided you do not withdraw your FERS contributions), you will NOT BE PERMITTED to continue FEHB (Health Benefits) or FEGLI (Life Insurance)….two VERY VERY IMPORTANT benefits in retirement to consider when making those types of decisions.

“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 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, in essence if any one wants to just “resign” the key is to make sure that you DON’T PULL OUT YOUR RETIREMENT CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OPM, then yes you could apply for retirement to OPM at age 62 ( or first eligible date the conditions above are met) for retirement. Roseanne

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, I have been reading the column for a few years and would like to know the 3 most important issues that postal retirees face in the future?
Concerned Carrier

A 3. TO ALL – Let me see if I can narrow it down to 3. 🙂

1. Health 2. Money 3.Peace

1. Health- Postal employees retire too late, it’s not just CSRS like everyone talked about for years…..the “CSRS’s won’t retire”. I find this with FERS employees as well. You guys wait too long….….. to enjoy what you have worked so long for. Many retire because of health issues. I know that any of you reading out there knows postal employees that have retired, (maybe before they look like they have been beaten to the ground…we all know the look) and in my experience, they look great! Healthy….all that. WHY…THAT stress is gone….

2. Money- I am sure many think this should be # 1, but…it’s not. CSRS employees have a great retirement, and so do FERS…let’s get THAT out of the way. All parts being equal…they are pretty damn close. Retiring fully is the best way to retire in FERS. And funding your could you NOT!!
And that is the reason why FERS folks don’t retire….Your retirement is not as cut and dry as the CSRS and the reason is because YOU control the destiny of your retirement….we CSRS did not. FERS employees control a HUGE portion of the retirement with TSP.

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH ROSEANNE??… The key to seeing if you can retire financially is to look at your pay check. What do you bring home every two weeks. Of course you would add in if there were a large deduction (for a mortgage or car back into the net). Then double that figure. That should be the base of your…”can I afford to retire”. You are living on the take home pay now. Then you look at your annuity estimate (FERS), what you will get from SS monthly and what TSP has been sending you quarterly/yearly for an annuity. That should give you a general idea of “can you afford to retire”.

3. Peace- Find your peace, and sometimes it won’t be easy. The first couple of weeks….its a freedom like no other, no calling in, no BT, all of that! In all reality, it takes about 6 months…to begin to really relax, to not go back and check the if you shut the garage door, or turned off the iron, the coffee pot, or flat/curling iron…or any of those ten thousand things we do as postal employees every day. No matter what position you hold, the fact that postal employees do this…it’s so evidenced to me by the spouses that I speak with. Find something you love to do and do it. If you are thinking about retirement, then you should also be thinking about this. You will need to find a way to bridge, (hobby, a cause, grandkids) or maybe transition is a better word, transition that postal “crazie” or maybe not crazy..but “energy” that it took every day to do that matters a fig leaf..what that job was in the USPS…you all know what I mean!

And I will add this to that LIST…# 4 I so wish I did NOT have to say this….postal employees, please OPEN your MAIL from the Postal Service!!….no- for real…

Till we speak again…….Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A August 2016 by Roseanne Jefferson

Good Day Postal Employees…..

Q 1a. Roseanne, I made a partial deposit about 5 years ago and stopped. I am planning to retire in 2 years. Am I entitled to get that money back If I’m not going to complete the deposit?

A 1a. Yes, however, OPM offers to allow you to fully pay back the deposit. If you are still going to continue to work an additional 2 years, why would you consider NOT paying it back fully? Roseanne

Q 1b.I don’t have enough credits to qualify for social security and I owe $8000 on my military deposit. I’m civil service and my military time already counts towards my retirement. Is it wise to pay the deposit with just two years left and then have to get a job to qualify for social security?

A1b. MY MAN!!! YES. YES. YES???????…someone out there is listening to me. Ok I’m better. You are correct in YOUR CASE as a CSRS Employee!! But keep in mind that you can NEVER work a job to attain those 40 quarters in Social Security earnings because your CSRS pension WILL BE REDUCED by those unpaid military years. Good job in getting this right. Roseanne

Q1c. Your are darn right I’m listening to you. If it were not for you, I would be totally ignorant about on a lot of retirement issues.But what about my original question concerning a partial payment towards my military buy back. Can I get that back?

A1c. YES…but keep in mind that OPM is going to have you complete a form (which will be located in your CSRS blue retirement booklet sent to you from HRSSC (OPM Form 1515) to sign off that you are NOT going to buy back your military time. Yes OPM will refund your over payment to the retirement fund. Your overpayment is what you paid into the fund for the military years.

Q 2. Hello, I have spoken to you in the past and thanks for answering my questions. Question: 1 Is what will be my pension numbers be retire early 2021 at 33 yrs and 56? Will my SS get reduced by my pension. Will and what % will my wife will get and last for now HAHA ! Is there any increase in pension for inflation? Thank You J

A 2. HI J, Our retirement is guided by federal regulations. As it relates to FERS, it is 1% of your high 3 average salary times the number of years worked (1.1% for Age 62 +20 ). Keep in mind that FERS is a 3 part retirement, and one of the parts of your retirement is Social Security….so no…If you are FERS then NO your SS will not reduce your FERS pension. As far as the spouse, selecting a full spousal annuity will guarantee her (should you pre-decease your spouse) 50% of your pension, and the ability for her to continue with your federal health benefits. There is also an option to select 25% as a pension amount for the spouse. Roseanne

Q 3. Greetings from a long time follower who values and quotes you on a regular basis. Sick Leave: when I retire at the end of 2017, I hope to have 2850 hours accumulated. Basic math indicates this is 17.8 months. Will this 17.8 months be considered in its entirety as time towards final good years? Or am I going to lose a portion of it? I project that I will have 33 years 2 months before I retire and I am really hoping that the additional 18ish months will be credited. Once again I truly thank you and look forward to your response. The G-Man

A 3. Hi G Man, The best way…is to literally count the work days ( minus all the holidays) for the year…month…whatever. Get THAT number. If used (Sick or AL), you are earning leave as you are using leave (adding SL…because AL is advanced)
Add all of that and divide by 8 (hrs)…should give you the number of days and you can count from there. YES..It is old school…it works though.

It used to be 22 days or more on an annuity estimate would roll over to credit as an additional month. Then days under 21 would be lost. It is no longer being calculated that way on the annuity estimate people !! Just sayin’ Roseanne

Q 4a. Roseanne, I am having a problem getting my health insurance coverage with my FEHB terminated. I have obtained health coverage through my wife’s group coverage. I sent a form to the OPM in early Dec. 2015 (open season) requesting termination effective 12/31/2015. I sent an e-mail on 2-1-16 again requesting termmination. I have tried numerous times, calling the OPM phone number (1-888-767-6738) and was only successful one time in talking to a representative who tried to pass me on and I was cut off in the process. I sent another e-mail on 3-4-2016 again requesting this coverage to be terminated. I haven’t heard back from OPM on either e-mail. In the mean-time they are deducting $632.00 per month from my retirement allotment. This termination was to be effective 12/31/2016. I am at my wits end. I would like this health coverage terminated and the premiums refunded. Can you offer any solution, or advice ? Sincerely, S

A 4a Hi S, You know by my column I’m a straight shooter. You don’t say how long you have been retired….and that makes me think that your canceled your health benefits during open season….which was the SAME month in which your ended your employment. If that is correct…that is one answer…OR you’ve been retired for several years and during open season as a retiree, you elect to cancel your health benefits……let me guess…’s the first one…let me know Roseanne

Q 4b. Thank you for your quick response !! I retired 5/1/2015 and attempted to cancel my health insurance during open season of 2015 for the cancellation to be effective 12/31/15. Thanks, S

A4b. Hi S, Well NOT was I was expecting in terms of the date of your retirement. I would have suspected your retired in Jan/Feb/Mar 2016. But for you to retire in May and then during the prior open health benefit season cancel your FEHB (and I will assume the paperwork was timely!!0..the time frame is a bit longer than I would have expected. Keep in mind when we/you retire, there are many other postal employees that retire on the same day, or same pay period. Each employee’s FEHB is NOT handled individually…it goes through a process called “batching”, where everyone who is similarly situated (same retirement date and carrying over FEHB) is done in a “mass process change” versus doing each one individually. I am a person that did FEHB individually with drop dead by one, by one, by one. So the batching process really makes SENSE!!

When we retire, we are paid one month in arrears. So in essence when you “change” your HB, or cancel (of course during open season)…AND the fact that we are paid 1 month behind, the change for HB would/should show up in the February check. (why…because when you are paid on Feb 1, it is for the month of January). Well only ONE month has passed and I do believe your insurance will in the next 6-8 weeks be cancelled and you should receive a refund check. Keep in touch and let me when the change (of no HB) and a refund check is sent to you. It helps with others who have an issue like this, and lets me give them information about the time it takes in “real time”. Roseanne

Q4c. Hi Roseanne, I received notification today (7/11/16) that my HB was canceled and I will receive my refund with my Aug.1 allotment. I finally was able to call and talk with a customer service agent. She mailed another cancellation request form to me that I had to complete and sign. I also had to provide proof of insurance with a date of Jan. 1 coverage. I appreciate your help and advice so much and have for many years. I hope this info will help you and possibly someone else.

A 4c. You are more than welcome. I am glad this turned out in your favor… doesn’t always…..Happy Retirement!! Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, First of all, I would like to thank for all the work you do for us. I do learn a lots from reading your column. So glad that you are back, hoping you will be better and better each day. Please help me with my question.
I am FERS employee.
I will be at Minimum Age Retirement ( MRA ) with 30 years of services in 2017.
My social security statement estimates that my benefits is around
$ 2,000 at 67
$1,400 at 62
Then my special supplement will be calculated as
30/40 time 2,000 ——- .75 time 2,000 = 1,500
OR 30/40 time 1,400 ——- .75 time 1,400 = 1,050

The difference is big $450, and I don’t know for sure since OPM will not tell you until you retire. I can’t decide. : ( . I hope you have time and clear this one for me. Again, appreciate all the work you do for our Postal Employee. Best wishes to you and your family. CT

A 5. HI CT, You are welcome…I do try to enlighten you all out there about the pitfalls, and give you many retirement clues that you won’t find too many other places, if at all. You see I do the ‘Special Supplement’ in a very different calculation….because in theory…the Special Supplement (the replacement for one part of your retirement (SS), until you become eligible to collect SS). The Special Supplement will never be as much or real close to the Social Security amount even at age 62. For calculations for the SPEC SUPP, (FYI been using this method……like 20 years) I use the “down n dirty” method…it goes like this….The Spec Supp is paid by using this calculation…between $30-$35 per month (so I use $33) times the FULL number of years worked (MINUS….any military buy back…(don’t shoot the messenger)). With 30 years I would estimate the Spec Supp around $990-1050. You could always email me back and tell me how close I am, I am told within $20-40 per month. Keep in mind that the Spec Supp is paid by OPM and not Social Security. Look at my method 33×30=$990 – 35×30= $1050. So its easy to see which one of your calculations is correct.

I hope this has helped in giving some things to think about. Roseanne

Q 6. Dear Roseanne, My uncle is in a (City/State) veterans hospital having some health issues. He is over 90 years old and receives a US Post Office pension of approximately $30,000 year. The social worker from the hospital called me to say he had no medicare coverage for his further care. After further investigation I see that he might be covered under FEHB. The social worker couldn’t find that my uncle had that either. I know my uncle retired sometime in the late 1980’s after many years with the postal service. Wouldn’t he have been set up, automatically, with FEHB at that time?
I know my uncle has some money but it would seem like he could, at least, get some help with prescriptions, rehab, or some of the generally allowed coverages. Any suggestions you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Roseanne . .

A 6. Hi R, He should be covered under FEHB….and if he retired in the late 80’s he is a CSRS retiree, fully vested and should have health benefits and a life insurance policy (that if took under the normal Basic Life Insurance retirement deduction of 75%…he would not have paid a premium after age 65, but still have a federal life insurance policy in tact with FEGLI.

At the age of 90, his retirement was no doubt PRE FERS and he may not have paid into medicare (seriously if he is that old…). And for him to have that large of a pension, says to me that he was an EXTREMELY higher level employee, like HQ maybe even a PCES employee…to be retired for that many years with that type of pension.

But what do you do? You are going to first call 1-888-767-6738, that is OPM (Office of Personnel Management) which is where all federal pensions come from. He would have had a “CSA” number…..that is how “we” are all categorized in OPM.

The Post Office is NOT GOING TO HAVE ANYTHING….don’t frustrate yourself….there have been 2 mass computer changes since your uncle’s retirement. Additionally, the personnel offices in each district, were reduced from large staffs, aligned with the number of employees in that district, to an all-inclusive centralized personnel facility located in North Carolina. (Just for the column…NO drinks and meals are not “included”…I just had to…R)

I don’t know if you are a postal employee or not…(the PRE FERS reference) .but when we retire health benefits and life insurance were (and still are THE BENEFITS). And that health premium is automatically deducted from his pension check. And at age 90 (if he took the 75% reduction, he has not paid a premium since age 65, in alignment with the structure of this policy) but still has a federal life insurance in tact….or should. Good luck, please let me know if I have helped in any way. Roseanne

R 6. Dear Roseanne, First of all, wow, did you ever help! Thank you so much! I called OPM and, of course, I had to wait for about an hour but finally got a live body to speak to. I have to get my uncle’s S.S. number to get his CSA number but just knowing I got to the right place was enough. He is still at the Vet’s Hospital but I’ll monitor his progress via phone calls to see if he needs to be transferred elsewhere.

I haven’t ever worked for the Postal Dept. but am retired from a state government, in a completely different state from my uncle. I have been trying to get my uncle’s “ducks in a row” from 1,500 miles away. My uncle has never been married and has no children so me and my cousin, are the only remaining blood relatives he has. O.K., hope this isn’t too much information but just wanted you to know more about the situation and to send my gratitude for your help. Thanks so very much, Roseanne, R

Till we speak again……….. Roseanne

Postal Retirement Q&A December 2016 by Roseanne Jefferson

Good Day Postal Employees!! It has been a few months since I have written the column, but have still continued to personally respond to your questions emailed to me. I have been taking it a bit slow after my surgery…..but back on track and ready to give you all some helpful information as you begin to learn about retirement.

Q.1 Hi Roseanne, I hope you are well. I am a retired rural carrier ( 2 years now ) I have two friends who are my same age ( 62 ) and both worked as RCAs for many years before recently going regular as career employees. A recent conversation with one of them raised some alarming information in my mind, and I was hoping you could shed some light on the situation. As I said, I have been retired for two years now and have not exactly kept up on things that no longer apply to my situation.

As I understood it, you could retire under the FERS system at age 62 or older, with 5 years or more of career service. I also understood that years as a sub counted for nothing, time-wise, towards years of service. You could carry your insurance into retirement if you had it for 5 consecutive years before retirement. Have these numbers changed, or do we just have some bad info? Also, do they still use the average of your high three consecutive years of pay X 1% X years of service ? Or, did they change it to 5 years?

We would appreciate any info you could provide in clearing this up. Many times when I was still working you cleared up questions I had through your Q & A column or by responding to an E-Mail. I surely appreciated the service you provided. Best wishes DK

A 1. HI DK, Nothing has changed… the only thing I can say is bad information. Everything you said is still the regulations relative to FERS retirement. And yes with 5 or more years of “credible” service, and over age 62, then yes you are eligible to retire. YOU must have 5 years on continuous years of health benefits immediately preceding your retirement…(that is also a rule as well that may be confusing if we are talking “precisely” 5 years). They still use the high 3 and still pay 1.% of your high 3 average salary. There is another calculation of 1.1%, but that requires you to be at least 62 with more than 20 years. I hope this has helped to clear up any misunderstandings. Roseanne

Q 2. Roseanne, I took the early out 3 yrs ago and retired. I recently applied for an Assistant Rural Carrier position. This job is delivering amazon packages on Sundays and holidays. Yes, I know how you feel about this subject, but can I apply for this job? Thank you

A. 2. Yes you can apply for this job, and they probably will hire you. Since you know how I feel about the this subject….then you know my reasons why ….but yes you can….you knew that when you wrote..Roseanne

Q 3. Roseanne, I work with another 55 year old employee, who will be going back to (XYZ Country), after retirement. His elderly family want him there now. He will have 30 years federal service when he is 58.25 postal and 5 military, which he bought back. At 58 years old will he still get his supplement, or does he need 30 years postal employment to qualify for the supplement.. His wife and child will be staying here, will his family health insurance be affected, by him moving there. His son is only 12. He will be going to a seminar, but he doesn’t speak very good English. I told him about you, and decided to write you. Thank you for all you do..RD

A 3. HI RD REALLY REALLY nice of you to do this for him…really

Let me say this…..I did a retirement of a postal employee that after his retirement went to Portugal to live.

His wife was a “benefactor” of an estate in Portugal…and so he wanted to retire and be there with his wife …(ahhh who wouldn’t )….(which he did with an MRA+10…so the Special Supplement WAS NOT an issue…he KNEW HE WOULD NOT GET IT because he was not eligible for it). And in doing research on that case, I found there to be really “tight” “strict rules” regarding federal pensions and them being “re-allocated”..(maybe not the best word…but the only one I can come up with right now) to another country. This was a very complex situation…and I think that perhaps….”where” the “retiree” resides….may have some affect on that retiree being able to collect their retirement in another country…not trying to be “political”..but what is the “relationship” of the US to the country that this employee wants to retire to…and get his retirement check. So I would suggest that before anyone would DO THAT…I would contact OPM “Office of Personnel Management” for an answer that “embodies” ALL the federal regulations. Roseanne

Q 3a Thanks for that info. He will have 30 years federal service when he is 58. 25 postal and 5 military, which he bought back. At 58 years old will he still get his supplement, or does he need 30 years postal employment to qualify for the supplement ate age 58 (his MRA)? Not sure if were clear on this .Another employee seems to think he has to wait to 60 years old because he won’t have enough postal years.

A 3a He will be “eligible” for the special supplement BECAUSE he has a total years of 30 (credible)…and is beyond his MRA….What is NOT PAID in the Special Supplement, is the 5 years of military that he bought back to add to the overall years of service … but…..its counted in the FERS pension calculation … NOT in the Special Supplement calculation. Keep in mind those are the rules….that MAY NOT APPLY TO HIM if moving to another country, in which maybe the political climate is uneasy…..which is what this email was about in the first place. I don’t want anything taken out of context. Roseanne

Final Response:I will give this to him tomorrow. Thank you so much for helping out as he came to this country and became a US citizen and joined the military. You are so kind

READER STATEMENT: Just letting your readers know about retirement annuity process if divorced.I retired on Feb 3 2016 after 43 years CSRS. I am still getting interim payments.I have called many times and I am told it is in court order division.I asked if this was normal coming up on 9 months and they said yes. Keep up the good work L

My Response: Hi L, That’s a long time to work….first you overpaid the fund….being CSRS and having more than 41 years and 11 months…and if there is a divorce decree…that perhaps you didn’t acknowledge on the retirement paperwork…and OPM had to go look for it….(because they HAVE it…all divorce attorneys send any federal employee’s divorce paperwork to OPM…) but it you didn’t send it and they have to look for it…..that could be the reason it it taking this time….there are so many reasons….if YOU DID provide the divorce with your retirement paperwork….can they find the ex spouse… BUT typically this is a result of not sending in your divorce decree with your retirement paperwork, Roseanne

His Response: Hi Roseanne Thanks for the reply. Divorce decree paperwork had been on file since 1997, all parties knew and were aware of situation. It just got finalized, nine months to the day with retroactive check. I knew I went a year past 41 -11 and the retirement contributions were returned also.Thankfully I went on to a better job. OPM said that they have 90 days once it goes to the court order division. I am very knowledgeable about all things CSRS….But this was beyond the pale.
Keep up the great work..L

MORAL TO THIS STORY….yes OPM does have your divorce decree’s on file….every attorney knows to send the divorce decree to OPM so that the “court order” is on file, and will be calculated when that postal employee retires. However, in the retirement paperwork, there is a question about former spouses and if you have to pay a “portion” of your annuity to a former spouse. And if that answer is yes, then it tells you to send a copy of your divorce decree WITH your retirement paperwork….

SO not sending it, is really going to delay the retirement, why make them look for it…..they will look, they will find it, and then you will be waiting months…simply because YOU didn’t send it.

Q 4. Can you represent me on EEO case against USPS ? I was a victim of workplace violence and still in chronic pain from 2004 assault by coworker who had 3 incidents at USPS and was found guilty of assault at us federal court. USPS were never going accommodate me and are putting me out of my restrictions and made my injuries worse. I want a settlement against USPS for failure call ambulance,not following our no zero tolerance policy and putting me out my restrictions and where is my modify job?

A 4. I am not an attorney, and I would suggest that you find an attorney if you should decide to pursue an EEO against the US Postal Service. Roseanne

Q 5. Good afternoon Roseanne, I never received your response to my question pertaining to any part time jobs in the post office after retirement. I was a letter carrier for 35 years. thanks jp

A 5. Hi JP, check your emails….I responded the same day, Oct 17th….my response was ANY job OTHER than FEDERAL…..and postal is federal. Roseanne

Q 6. I hope you’re doing well and thank you for all you do for us. I’m planning to retire on 01/31/2017. I just received a letter from HR letting me know that my personnel folder has a DELETED COPY which does not contain character of service. They tell me that if is not received within 60 days my military service will be removed from my service history.

I served in the US Army for 12 years 3 months and I did buy my time back when I joined. I looked online in my OPM file and I noticed that the DD 214 they have on file does not show the character. Some people call the DD 214 service form -4 the long form since it shows the type of discharge I obtained, HONORABLE. If I mail them a copy of my long form DD214 will that be sufficient and I’m also a disabled veteran and I can obtain a letter stating my time of service and discharge character with the disability rating. Once I mail the information they’re requesting, how do I check to make sure that their request is satisfied. Thank you for your help and I hope to retire on January 31, 2017 with 40 years service. SV

A6. SV, When USPS hires an employee that has military service, we required (or did!!) a DD214 Member 4 copy. This has the soldier’s character of service when discharged. The reason it’s important is because it must be “honorable” versus “dishonorable” and a few other characters of service, that can be disqualifying. I know what I am going to tell you is going to sound lame….because to have to do this is lame….and what is going on is LAME…


Make a copy of your member 4 copy of your DD214….attach a letter that states, per HRSSC request…I am re-submitting (ADDRESSED TO HRSSC) a copy of my member 4 DD214 (which is located in my eOPF) that details the “character” of service when I received my “honorable discharge”. Make sure you include ANY AND ALL information relative to you paying your military BUY BACK…Why is this lame…because they not only would NOT have hired you unless you had an honorable discharge, and if not caught then (OMG!!), when buying the military time back, you have to include your DD214 and military earnings form….so…I don’t know what to say but…just do it. Anything that has to do with your VA disability has no bearing on this, and really is not “postal” business. Roseanne

Q 7. Dear Roseanne, I am 53 years old. I have been at the Post Office as a carrier for over 32 years in FERS. I am on OWCP now after 3 surgeries. My question is should I take Disability retirement, or try to stay on OWCP until I am 56? My lawyer want me to take disability retirement, but others at the Post Office told me to not take it. They said retire at 56, then take Disability Social Security.
I am not sure I can stay on OWCP for the next 2.5 years. Not sure what I should do. Thanks T

A 7. HI Tom, I would suggest calling HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273 to begin the process of disability retirement with FERS (US Postal Service)…they will instruct you on the process, but begin right away. Roseanne

Response: Thank you. Is FERS disability better than OWCP even though I have 32 years in? I don’t know how pay works under disability. I don’t want to regret taking disability retirement in 2.5 years when I am 56. Thanks again

Final Response: TO ALL

If you have a legitimate disability that makes you unable to do your job, you have the option to file for disability retirement. If you are a FERS employee, because Social Security is a part of (3 part Retirement program) your retirement, you would have to also file for disability with Social Security as well.

The criteria for approval is VERY different for each of the systems… (Social Security & FERS/CSRS)…but you have that option. The question was “is FERS disability better than OWCP”…(even though he had 32 years in)..? FERS retirement is what you should be on, morally. To stay on OWCP when you can retire, is unfair…to the USPS…it is. Being on OWCP requires the PO to pay OWCP for “you”, and another employee to take “your” place. And if injured on the job it should be that way. But when its time to retire and you stay on OWCP then it’s really not fair to the organization.

I’M sure they are gonna love me for this…..but again, if you are unable to do your job and you need to file for disability retirement, you need to call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273

One thing that maybe you all don’t know….you don’t have to have been injured on the job to file for disability retirement. Disability Retirement is NOT because you were injured on the job, it is for an employee that by the nature of their illness/or injury….job related or not, are unable to perform the functions of their job…period. That is the requirement, it is up to YOU the employee, to follow the instructions given to you by HRSSC. Your approval comes from OPM not the Postal Service. You will have narrate and provide medical documentation, your physician(s) will have to narrate and provide documentation, yes, all that, but it is an option for you if find yourself in that position.


TILL we speak again………….Roseanne