Postal Retirement

Postal Retirement Q&A July 2014 by Roseanne Jefferson

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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 roseanne.jefferson@icloud.com. Click here for prior monthly Q&As.

Good Day Postal Employees!! Thanking you all for the prayers that have been offered up for my daughter Hope, she is still in remission of stage 3 breast cancer, and our entire family is grateful to all of you who have said prayers for her recovery….thank you!

Please take the time to recognize our VETERANS on this 4th of July…to them we OWE SO MUCH!!

June was a REALLY CRAZY month….busy, did a Rural Carrier State Convention on retirement…..So many questions….so little time, but one great group of employees. So I get a phone call this week and a postmaster is just bubbling that they have re vamped the POStPlan Org Change and RIF Timeline. AND they have offered (ONLY THOSE POSTMASTERS EFFECTED IN THIS POStPlan Re-Org) another $10,000 incentive, and a new “get outta dodge” date 09/30/2014. Well, if you have been reading my column for awhile, you know I have predicted more early outs, and I have more often than not, stated I didn’t think that $$ would be offered, but obviously “incentives” are still on the table….because they are NOT where they need to be “staffing wise” as of yet !! And the idea that when an employee retires, “SURELY THEY WILL BE REPLACED”, has now become a “crap shoot”. You really never know if that employee will be replaced, and that effects many times if an employee will change from part time to full time status or better known as a “regular”. We are coming down to the wire on RIF separations…..it will be ugly if you don’t find a landing spot…..because you WILL BE SEPARATED. RIF rules are very specific, and IF I WERE still working and on the verge of being given a RIF separation, I would not try to play HARD BALL, in obtaining the job of my choice…..again…..this is one…you won’t win…..YOU DON’T WANT TO BE THE ONE WITHOUT A CHAIR WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS!!! This month has been very busy with emails and your concerns about the organization and the treatment of employees. It does have a way of eating away at anyone’s good nature. And I have been told, written to, called, by so many that the levels of anger and rage are at epic proportions. And sometimes, in some places, things have had some horrible consequences due to the insane pressure being applied. I use this scenario, because I think it validates the lunacy of this organization sometimes. If you are a Postmaster, and you have 2 full-time clerks..(never mind if you have any part time clerks…just for this example only 2 FT clerks)…and you are given a budget that says 12 clerks hours per day. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE!? HOW IS THAT LEGAL? WHAT does the PM have to make sure that someone is given annual or “heaven’s forbid” sick leave? How do you make that work….you can’t…A full-time employee is guaranteed 8 hours a day, you got 2, that’s 16 hours a day….I say that to say….it is NOT worth it to allow an employer make you so volatile that it appears you are not in control…. I know, I have been there….my district would call it Roseanne is going “ziggityboo”, because when you are in it…..you don’t sense the destruction of it, until you leave it. When you retire, you will return to normal, it takes a bit, but every single one of you reading this knows I am right. WE are NOT who we were, when we were first hired…..flat out!! Regardless of what our position was when we hired or what our position is when we retire….we have CHANGED!!! We are cynical, and untrusting…. But who am I to talk, spent hours upon hours shredding my COA files from the period of time I was in Management…(decades!!). CUZ, ya just never know when they are going to ask for some stupid #%^, that they should have already had. NO need to explain…..you all know!!

Q 1. A Postalmag Reader writes: Hi Roseanne, Hope this finds you well and your daughter still in remission. Just wanted to share the timeline OPM processed my January 31, 2014 retirement. March 1, 2014 First interim annuity payment. (About 80% of what annuity is). April 1, 2014 Second interim annuity payment. May 1, 2014 Third interim annuity payment. Make up payment for special supplement and balance of annuity payment minus health ins and taxes deposited. Received “blue book”. June 1, 2014 should be my regular monthly check. Overall I was pleasantly surprised with the timeline of processing my retirement. Thanks for all you do !! KB

A 1. Hi KB, I am very pleased that you took the time to write and share this information about the time frames, you experienced with OPM. I try to explain about the time frames in retirement, which hold true (for MOST). The horror stories are those whose “data” (once OPM receives the retirement package from HRSSC) are shown to be NOT correct, can explain many times why some retirements take so long. Congrat’s…you deserve it. If you can retire from this organization… it didn’t come easy. Take care, and have an awesome retirement!! Roseanne

Q 2. Roseanne, I have worked 36 plus years in addition to two years military time I bought and sick leave which will amount to 40 years of credited service this September. I am an RIF impacted Postmaster come Sept 30, 2014. I’ve been told the Postal Service is obligated to find us full time clerk or carrier jobs if there are no postmaster jobs to go to. On the other hand, I read recently in PB22344 dated August 23,2012 a reassignment offering could be part time based on positions available come Sept 30. I am presently believing another two years of work should increase my CSRS annuity another $250. per month to stay on. My questions (1)If a full time clerk position is not in the offering, would I be better to stay on a couple of years as a part time craft person to build up my annuity or would I be negatively affected in my retirement benefits in so doing? Question(2), as a CSRS future retirement annuitant, would taking a full time city carrier assistant position if offered benefit me to build up the last two years in CSRS benefits?. Question(3) , if I have the opportunity to take a 6 hour RMPO postmaster job, how and will this affect my retirement? Will my estimated annuity build at or near the same pace as my present assignment as a EAS-11? Given, the three scenarios, which way would be the best for retirement purposes, or would it better to retire this September given the options stated above. Thank you, J,

A 2. Please, just retire….go back and re-read some of my columns about how changing to a “less than 40 hour a week position” changes the percentile of your annuity, called a pro-ration factor. With 36 years, and you are CSRS…just RETIRE…staying at a RMPO to do what ?!?….”sunset your career”…it’s just plain stupid…you are working effectively to reduce your high 3 average salary…and I don’t CARE HOW they try to sell it…it reduces your high 3 average salary. It is what an HR person would call a “sucker move”…and truly…I hate to be so blunt…but I cannot imagine how many different ways I have had to communicate this message without being just IN YOUR FACE….just do the math!! Take a calculator to the figures…Roseanne

Q 2. Hello Roseanne I recently saw information about you and the retirement advice you give out and post on postalmag.com. My situation is I am a 39 year old carrier. I have 17 years of career service and 3 years of TE service prior to that. I am currently working on my teaching degree. I figure I have about 2 years left until I graduate. That would put me close to 20 years career time. If I walked away from the postal service after 20 years but was only 42 or 43 years old, how does that work? Do I get a full retirement? Do I have to wait until my mid 60’s to start collecting. What if I finish my degree early, can I walk away from the post office before 20 full years and collect a partial retirement? After 3 surgeries on my knee and foot I want to get out while I can still walk normal. I was just wondering what my options are as I get closer to graduating. Any insight you can give would be great. Thanks you so much. AB

A 2. Hi AB, You can “resign” and take a “deferred” retirement.

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

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

So that is the criteria, the same as early out and discontinued service (as it relates to age(s) and years of service. Providing you are a full time employee and have been for some time, then you can simply use your high 3 average salary, and then times it by 1%. That number is used times the number of years of service, then divide by 12 for the monthly gross annuity. That is without spousal benefits (and of course no life or health insurance…which REALLY is the biggest benefit of retirement. Roseanne

R 2. Roseanne, So just to be clear, I can get a deferred retirement with 17 years if career service it do I have to have over 20 years career service? Thanks for taking time with me. AB

Hi AB, yes, this is taken directly from FERS retirement information. If you would like to see it yourself….you can log into opm.gov…go to retirement then to FERS Information, then Types of Retirement ….you will see the information…just so you have a peace of mind. BUT you have to read it….as soon as you attain the age that corresponds with the age/service below….that means (FOR YOU) since you will resign with 17 or so years (not 20), then when you turn 62…you can apply for the Deferred Retirement. Let’s say you were 49 with 21 years (still not eligible to retire), but in that scenario, the person could apply for their Deferred Retirement at age 60…because they had 20 years when they resigned. I hope this clears this up for you. Roseanne
Q 3. Is there a supplement from OPM that is available from age 57 to 59 which one can get while still employed?I talked to our union president and OPM and they say no,but a fellow employee says yes. CRT

A 3. Hi CRT No, there is NOT a supplement for someone that is still working, the union president is correct. Roseanne

Q. 4. Roseanne, I am 57 with 35 years of service. I recently received a job offer with THE railroad. I am going to take the job and retire from postal service. My question is once I am with THE railroad for five years, all my social security money is transferred to THE railroad retirement. Would my CSRS pension, still be reduced by offset at age 62 since I will no longer be able to receive Social Security. Thanks, T

A. 4 Hi T, Well congratulations on your new career. Geez….and when I began to answer this I thought it was going to be easy….NOT! First: You can retire CSRS and no matter what (EXCEPT A FEDERAL JOB) you can work anywhere without it affecting your annuity…..BUT IF YOU ARE an OFFSET CSRS employee- those rules are very different if you were regular CSRS. The change in these two retirement systems (CSRS vs CSRS/offset) takes place when you turn 62, and have eligibility to receive Social Security. Did you notice I said “ELIGIBILITY”…because regardless if you TAKE SS at age 62, your CSRS check is going to be REDUCED (if CSRS …too many variables if you are a CSRS/offset). You will always be eligible to collect SS, but you just thew a monkey wrench in the soup….when you take on another job. It has no bearing on where you work, just that you are working. That is my answer so far…..let me do some checking because the “railroad” has some interesting features in their retirement, that I am not very familiar with, but do know a little about, enough to know they are very similar to CSRS. Let me see if I can find anything else to help you on this issue. Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, can you please tell me what happens if one retires on Sept. 30 2014 in the state of Virginia, then moves to the state of Florida and declares residency in this state. Do I inform the OPM that my residency for my retirement payments changes? Basically, in the state of Virginia I would owe yearly taxes and in the state of Florida I would not have to pay state taxes. I think I read somewhere that I would need to be a resident of Florida for one year before I could claim the Florida no tax rate. Thanks so much if you can help. KJ

A 5. Hi KJ….just as a quick answer….there is NO state tax in Florida, so I cannot imagine some claiming no state tax for a one year….when there is no state tax at all. But instead of relying on what you think you read “somewhere”, simply call the state of Florida tax department and ask them. As far as OPM, yes, you are required to keep them apprised of your address when you move. And further….OPM is not going to just “take out” Virginia state tax….YOU have to initiate that with OPM, as everyone does who is required to pay a state tax on their federal annuity/pension. So if you are moving, and you check and I am correct about FL having no state tax, then all is good. For anyone that wants information on if THEIR state applies a tax to federal pension, a great website is Kiplinger. Roseanne

Until we speak again…..Roseanne

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