Roseanne is a retired USPS employee with an extensive background in USPS retirement, disability retirement, OWCP, EEO, Labor Relations and HR. She conducts individual and group counseling and is able to comprehensively discuss the pros and cons of employees who are on OWCP, disability retirement and regular retirement. Roseanne will be happy to answer your postal retirement questions. Contact Roseanne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good Day Postal Employees!!
I promised a column that talked about FEHB and Medicare…with clear information, as I see it and as I have been told. There are so many different stories that have been related to me, it’s hard to distinguish what are the real facts. I want it to be as clear as possible (even though that is not an easy task), so that YOU all can make your own decision on this subject.
I am able to give information as it relates to ME…since I am well over 65 and DID NOT take Medicare Part B. First I didn’t have to, and you don’t regardless if your are CSRS or FERS. But because I am a CSRS annuitant, I don’t have a Social Security check (and never will). And so initially, there was nothing to take a Medicare payment out of, short of me paying Medicare directly. However, I do know that OPM will (now) take out your Medicare Part B payment if you are CSRS, and if you request it. (*SEE email in this article regarding that subject). There would be NO need for OPM to do that for a FERS employee, as the Medicare payments would be deducted from their Social Security check.
I have also been told, (by only one person) that he receives a “rebate” from his FEHB insurance plan given back to him for taking Medicare Part B. He is the only person that EVER told me that, so the authenticity of that is just one person’s word. That was new information to me. This information came to me, while doing a retirement for a postal employee, who’s (postal) husband had retired 4 years earlier. He had taken Medicare Part B, and stated during the ZOOM session, that he gets a rebate check.
I have also heard (from the emails that I receive), that there are going to be “CHANGES” to health benefits with “Postal Reform”. But I am inclined to believe that would be for current employees and not OPM annuitants. I could be wrong…but that is what I am thinking. If we were all MANDATED to purchase Medicare Part B, I cannot imagine that those of us who didn’t sign up at age 65 (first opportunity), would be charged that “EXTRA” amount for not signing up at age 65, but again, just my thoughts.
Let’s start with your health insurance biggest question…HOW MUCH does it GO UP IN RETIREMENT. It typically does NOT go up (much or at all) in retirement. There are a few retirement cases that I have done, that have shown a slight increase of $10-$15 in FEHB premiums per month. But that is not typical. You can see that by looking at your paystub and seeing what you pay bi-weekly, and then comparing it with the annuity estimate. Take your bi-weekly FEHB amount, times that amount by 26 (Pay periods), then divide that figure by 12. That is what you are paying monthly as a retiree. Again, in most cases, it’s exactly the same. So the FEAR of your health benefits going up in retirement is UNFOUNDED.
Let’s go back to when I was 63/64, and I had full hip replacement surgery. All of the medical bills for that “health condition” totaled about $37,000. My total out of pocket was around $800.00
Last year in July (age 66) when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. None of the hospital (surgical) bills were paid by Medicare Part A, because anytime that you are in a “same-day” surgery, Medicare Part A is not activated, and almost all surgeries in this day are “same-day” surgeries. So be aware of that. WIth all of the pre-testing, surgery, and 2 full months of radiation, I had somewhere in the neighborhood of $ 120,000. in medical charges. Because of the amazing FEHB benefits we have, I had about $4,000 of out of pocket expenses. How could I or anyone complain!! Based upon my income, and the medical expenses, I still did not qualify for a deduction on my taxes….which I still cannot believe.
UP to speed, so after all the radiation, one of the side effects of this radiation, is lung cancer, and so in March 2021, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. Because of where the nodules are, surgery was and is not an option. So, I was scheduled to do 2 months of radiation, but because of the prior breast radiation, I was only able to get 12 treatments of radiation, (or I would be on an oxygen tank for life)’; and 6 treatments of chemo. I have spent about $2500 this year so far out of pocket on the lung cancer. I take 1 chemo treatment per month, and every 3 months, I will go for CT scans to see how the chemo/immunotherapy has changed the sizes of the nodules.
So if someone were to ask me, if I had to do it all over again, would I have taken Medicare Part B, I still am not sure. But I don’t want YOU TO NOT GET MEDICARE PART B, BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE IT, and because it is NOT REQUIRED. I WANT you to make your own decision. Some of you reading this are no where near 65 and when you get to that age, this may not even be a choice!!
Understand we have the BEST insurance in the world…any FEHB insurance, has to go through big scrutiny by OPM to even be allowed to be offered to federal/postal employees. So NEVER NEVER give it up. If your FEHB is too expensive, change to a lower priced plan versus just giving it up for Medicare Part B and/or Medicare Advantage.
Q 1. Dear Roseanne, Longtime reader, but never thought I would need help. I am being bounced between Medicare and OPM. When I retired in 2014, I was too young for Medicare. When I did turn 65 and agreed to sign up for Medicare, instead of having the payments deducted from my pension, I paid it directly. Late last year, I decided to have the money dedicated from my pension, but was told it would take awhile and that I should continue to mail in my premiums. So I send in a check for Feb/March/April, at the end January. MY pension payment in February showed the Medicare payments taken out for January and February. So I’ve paid double payments for January, February, March and April. Ive called Medicare, and have been told different things by several different agents. But the last person said I should contact OPM to try to get the money back. I sent an email and just got a response from OPM, stating I should call Medicare. HELP!! I cannot be the only one who has had this come up. NJ
A 1. Hi NJ, ACTUALLY… This IS the first time I have heard of this problem. Keeping in mind, if you have read my columns, as federal retirees we DON’T have to take Medicare Part B. I do understand why some people do….the fear of having outstanding medical bills. In my case, I am well over 65, and don’t have Medicare Part B, just Medicare Part A (which is free) and my FEHB. I suppose if you were paying Medicare directly, I am going to HAVE to say that you are CSRS, otherwise, the Medicare Part B payment is taken out of your Social Security check.
So what should you do….tough call. I would try to call OPM….I know that this is a long and arduous process….but call them on a Wednesday or Thursday….between the hours of 9:15 – 2:30. Its the best time and day(s) to contact any federal agency. But you need to talk to someone because this is not something I think will be solved by emails. You are going to have to bite the bullet…and spend the day (if you have to) to talk to someone at OPM, because THEY have had to deal with this issue before, and maybe they can give you some guidance. I am even at a loss to figure it out. You don’t want to stop the payment coming out of your pension check for the Medicare.
If I were to give it my best response, I would go with logic…and logic would say, it really is MEDICARE that was overpaid, therefore, after I think it through….you need to deal with Medicare directly. But it’s still a good idea to talk to OPM because they may have a suggestion better than mine. Good luck!! Roseanne
Q 2. Hi Roseanne this is DL I just wanted to thank you for the great job on my retirement it is finalized now I did talk to TSP and haven’t set up payments yet but do know how or I can just leave the money set if not needed also I would like to ask you does my insurance stay the same price the rest of my retirement thank you again for all your help you’re the best and highly recommended hope you’re doing well. DL
A 2. DL
Your health insurance, just like when you were working, will go up “slightly” each year.
Whatever Life insurance you took, if…Basic and selected the 75% reduction, the monthly payment ends at age 65 (as it also ends in Option A, if you had it and selected it in retirement). Options B & C (if selected), will go up every 5 years, if you chose NO REDUCTION.
Your TSP question can be see below as this is directly from the TSP website…so you can leave the money in, until the information below:
- If you have left federal service and do not begin withdrawing from your TSP account balance in the year you turn 72*, we are required to make the required distribution to you by April 1 of the following year.
- If you separate from federal service after age 72*, your account will immediately be subject to the IRS minimum distribution requirements.
- If you’re already receiving a series of monthly payments from your TSP account when you turn 72*, your monthly payments will be used to satisfy the IRS minimum distributions requirement. If the total amount of your monthly payments does not satisfy the requirement, we will issue a supplemental payment for the remaining amount in December.
Sorry it took so long to respond, as to why this email went to my junk folder is beyond me. I am taking monthly chemo treatments (which is called immunotherapy…just a different drug, same IV delivery). Hopefully when I go for the CT scan after my 3rd treatment, the nodules will have shrunk. Thank you for thinking about me. Roseanne
Q 3. Roseanne, my name is SM. I was given your name and email address from a friend that said you did her retirement paperwork and it was the best money she ever spent. I have been on FERS disability retirement since 2004. At that time I had almost 20 years of service with the XYZ Post Office, USA. I turned 62 on June 4th 2021. I thought that I would automatically be put into regular retirement, but I guess that is not the case. Can you help with everything that I need to do. I have done nothing at this point. My retirement account number is CSA#######. I do not have any TSP accounts. I will watch for a return email from.
A 3. Hi SM, OPM does recalculate your retirement when you turn 62. Keep in mind that when you turned 62 on June 4th, that the June check you received, was for May, when you were still 61. And the check for June, (paid in July), COULD be the same because you were still 61 on June 1st.
There is nothing that you need to do.
OPM will be changing it. But right now, you still would not see a difference until perhaps on the August check. The calculation is (right now) 40% of your high 3 average salary. When turning 62, it will be re-calculated as if all time were worked until age 62. So you should be able to figure that out. Meaning, if you did not do a disability retirement, and worked until age 62, how many years would you have in “credible service”. As an example, if it’s 25 years, then the calculation will be 25% of your high 3 average salary, 34 years, would be 34% of your high 3 average salary. If it’s 40 years, then the calculation would still be 40% of your high 3 average salary. If you had 20 credible years in 2004, then the calculation should be around 38% of your high 3 average salary, (as it would be 38 years). Roseanne
Q 4. Hi Ms. Jefferson, How are you? My name is MH, work at XYZ Post Office now, and have worked in usps for 21 years. I plan to retire on February 2023 when I reach 60 years old. But I would have 1000 sick leave which I would like to know if I could buy my time, meaning I could retire earlier in next August? Some of my co-workers did surgery by using their sick leave, then go ahead retire. I don’t think I will have surgery, but I don’t want to lose my money. My coworker & union steward, who told me the many seminars in the past years you did for the city & rural carriers and clerks, and who knows you personally, introduced your services to me. Please give me some advice? Thank you so much in advance. MH
A 5. Hi MH, Based upon the information that you stated in your email, you are not eligible to retire, until you reach the age of 60. The FERS eligibility requirements are:
MRA (Minimum Retirement Age) + 30 or more credible years (DOB determines MRA)
Age 60 with 20 or more credible years
Age 62 with 5 or more credible years
As far as using sick leave, you CANNOT USE SICK LEAVE TO ATTAIN ELIGIBILITY to retire. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LOSE ANY MONEY. Sick leave is not money, annual leave is money. So having 1000 of sick leave, has no bearing on the fact that you don’t meet the eligibility requirements as you are not yet 60, and won’t be until Feb 2023. Roseanne
Q 6. Hi! I hope your retirement is going well and your day is as well! I was doing a review of my records and realized I might not have what I need to prove my PTF work hours. I would appreciate any advice please.
I was hired as a PTF city carrier 11/2001 and converted to full time city carrier 4/2007.
I have been full time employed since 4/2007 and in 2009 I did a successful “transfer” to the “XYZ Federal Agency” (I got all the rules on that one right, no break in service etc!!!) and I thought I had made sure I got everything I needed from USPS as I knew it would probably be hard/impossible once separated!
Anyway here I am doing a 20 year check up for myself and looking everything over once again. And this PTF thing shows up on my radar and now I am a little worried! As you can guess I like most any USPS PTF worked 40 hours or more a week during my PTF time.
I don’t have access to a USPS Benefits Estimate Report or a NARCES Annuity Estimate to get my pro ration factor. I would welcome any advice. I am unsure how OPM will know how to credit my hours for those 5 years and 5 months. I see a column answer you wrote where you mentioned that what was contributed into FERS from USPS and myself would have been based on hours worked.
So I am kind of hopeful that maybe OPM does actually know my hours worked? But I also found a few former employees in a a situation similar to mine that stated when it came to retire OPM had no idea and USPS wasn’t helpful either. I am hoping I can still get records if I need to before more time passes! Do you think I need to figure out how to get my pro ration factor so I have it for my files? Thanks a bunch for your time! J
A 6. Hi J, The first QUESTION is what Agency do you work for now, and what is your status NOW?. Are you a PTF or a PTR or Full-time? It MATTERS which “estimate” you get. If you are a PTR or PTF… or an employee that works LESS than a 40 hour week, then when you are trying to retire, they have to do a “manual report” which is called a “FERS Benefits Estimate Report”. If you are a full-time, then you should NEVER accept that a good retirement report, and should have a NARCES Annuity Estimate, Report “AAF241P1”.
The pro-ration factor is calculation. By taking all the weeks of your “credible service”…and saying to yourself, OF ALL THE WEEKS that I worked in the USPS how many of them, were 40 or more hours….regardless if you were a PTF or not. If in your head you say….well…95% of the time that I worked for the PO, I worked more than 40 hours a week Then you could figure a 5% pro-ration factor. And why don’t your have access to these reports? Your personnel office depending on what federal agency you work for now should be able to provide you with these reports Of course they are not going to have the “hours that you worked at the post office”. Most federal agencies require you to be within 3 years of retirement to order the annuity estimate, but that should give you a beginning. Do that !! Call them and get a report. I can’t imagine you asking me this, and you are more than 3 years out. It sounds like you are trying to get your ducks in a row….and usually when this occurs to you, you are down to only a few years left. As information, I have only seen the USPS apply the pro-ration factor. Most federal employers don’t have the time lag, from being a part-time employee to a regular employee, as it does at the Postal Service. There are many employees that work in smaller post offices around the country, that work well over 30 years, and have never been converted to full time. They have spent their entire career as a PTF. Roseanne