Postal Retirement

Postal Retirement Q&A November 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 Q&As and Click here for Q&As prior to July 2014

Good Day Postal Employees!!  This is the actual un-sanitized email….(which I am able to do since this employee did not identify any postal facility, zip code, etc. that would single them out). How many times do I say that OPM does a GREAT job considering they handle EVERY SINGLE FEDERAL EMPLOYEE’S  (meaning not just Postal) retirement, disability retirement, and early out retirement.  And the berating of this agency is so unwarranted!!!  Retirement is NOT their only function!!  OPM rocks!!  In all my columns, I try to communicate that message.  The VOLUME of work that this agency is responsible for is massive, and if the retirement is done correctly, the turn around time is IMPRESSIVE!!

Dear Roseanne,

First let me say that you are a Beacon of Light to us all tossing about in the dark ocean of postal and bureacratic red tape.

The date, as of this writing is Oct 24, 2014.  You and maybe a few employees might find my experience interesting:

1. Aug 31, 2014, Retired from USPS, Retail Window Clerk

2. Sep 15, 2014, Picked up last paycheck, Annual Leave cashout included, at my home  office (final check is NOT direct deposited).

3. Sep 20, 2014, received from OPM, by mail,  temporary password I can use to access my account at “www.servicesonline.opm.gov

4. Sep 22, 2014, received from USPS Accounting Service Center, by mail, advise that my retirement record have been sent to OPM.

5. Sep 23, 2014, received from OPM, by mail, my CSA number, which together with  the temporary password allowed me access to my OPM account online.

6. Oct 1, 2014, my first Interim Pay was direct deposited ( about 60%).

7. Oct 9, 2014, (based on OPM online information) my case was assigned to a Specialist “for calculation of (my) annuity benefits”

8. Oct 17, 2014, (based on OPM online information) my case was “finalized and will receive (my) personalized benefits booklet (bluebook?)within 2-3 weeks”.

9. Oct 21, 2014, (based on OPM online information) my “Annuity Statement, for pay period ending 11/1/2014”, itemizing following amounts: (a) my regular annuity, (b) FERS supplement, (c) health plan premium, (d) life insurance premium.

10. Oct 22, 2014, OPM direct deposited  my “Adjustment Payment” (addition to Interim Pay for the month of October).

11. Oct 23, 2014, received from OPM, by mail,  what my monthly FERS Supplement will be.

12. Nov 1, 2014, right now I am waiting for this date when I will get my first regular annuity and suplement.

It seems like the entire process will take only 2 months from start to finish! Perhaps because I was a career employee for 30 yrs from hiring to retirement, with no service breaks or military and interagency “complications”. I was prepared for a somewhat long ordeal after reading what others went through. But what a surprise. Kudos to the OPM !   Best of luck to everyone,

Q 1. Hi Roseanne,

I have a question concerning retirement.  I am 40 years old with 20 years seniority.  I will be 50 when I have my 30 years.  My MRA is not 50.  How much will I be penalized in I retire at 50 with 30 years?  Making it 10 more years with the PO is going to take a miracle for me.  I just want to know what my options are.  Thank you so much.

A. 1 Hi, I hate to bust your bubble, but when you turn 50 and have 30 years you still are not eligible to retire, therefore discussing a penalty is a moot issue, you can’t retire.  Your “MRA is not 50” and no one else’s is either.  Your MRA is either 56 or 57 (depending on what year you were born).  That being said, 30 years +, has no bearing.  If you understand what MRA means….it means…MINIMUM Retirement Age, meaning not before 56/57, and your years have no bearing until you reach the Minimum age,  unless an early out VERA is offered.  If an early out VERA was offered, it would give you the ability to retire with any age and 25+ years.  In your case, today, and without an early out the soonest you can retire is at your MRA, and you will just have more than 30 years, which by the way is TYPICAL.  Roseanne

Q 2. Good morning, I am an EAS 17 and hate it.  With all of the changes in the PO is it possible to go back to the clerk or carrier craft?   Thank you,  LD.

A.2 Of course, and happens ALL the time.  I bet everyone out there reading this column knows someone in their district who has went back to the craft.  For you to even ask if you could (AND you are currently EAS) and could only find ME to answer that question screams COULDN’T SOMEONE AT YOUR DISTRICT LABOR RELATIONS answer this??? (It is such an incredibly simple question and answer) that you had to write ME…wow! NOW understand this…I didn’t say that they would honor the request, or even that they HAD to (although they usually do…it’s not good business to keep someone in the EAS ranks that does not want to be there and is willing to go back to the craft).   I said it is done all the time.  There are NO rules or regulations that stop you from requesting a downgrade, or a request to go back to the craft.  AND there are no rules and regulations that stop this from being approved.  If this is what you really want, then request this in writing to your DISTRICT Manager.  Bypass all the other levels above you. BUT, if this is some kind of “power play” I can guarantee YOU, this will affect you (DO YOU HEAR ME!!!) the rest of your career.  So be sure, this is what you want to do. I am sure your district is just “jonez-en” for an EAS spot to put some loser EAS employee in.  Roseanne

Saga 3.

Hi Roseanne I read your column every month and either this question has not been asked or I have overlooked it. I hope it has a simple answer and also one that I can like! LoL! I am a FERS employee. No military time. I will have 30 years service as of 11/15/15. I will be 57 on this date. My question is… Once I retire on 2/16, can I roll my tsp over into a private annuity without a penalty? I’ve heard for so many years the age of 59.5!  I will have 500,000 (give or take) as my balance in tsp! I just don’t think I can live comfortably on the fers retirement and supplement alone. If I left out any pertinent info, please let me know.  Thanks in advance R.

A3. Hi R,  So to begin yes you can roll that money that is in TSP to another “financial vehicle” without a penalty being assessed on that money. And YES, of course, you can live MORE than comfortably with TSP included with your – FERS – Spec Supp/Social Security…OMG its 45% of your RETIREMENT INCOME…ITS SUPPOSED TO!!!!!!!.  If you will have that type of money in TSP as stated, why would you want to do that….move that money to another financial vehicle when it is part of your retirement….not money to pay off a house, or money to send a grandchild to college ….its part of your retirement and you should use it as it was designed, and that is a portion of your retirement income.  YER KILLIN’ ME!!!  Roseanne

THREE MONTHS LATER .. Thank you for your response.  I’ve been pondering your answer all this while to ask for further clarification on reasons to leave my money in TSP.  I have asked several former & present coworkers about their plans for their TSP.  EVERYONE will or has moved out of TSP with the same reason…they don’t trust the federal govt!!  Is this a valid fear?  I’d truly like to hear your point of view on this.  Other questions I have are 1] At my death, what becomes of the remaining balance of my TSP account?  I want assurance that my sole heir receives all monies I have worked 30 years for, less what I have needed for my own purposes.  2] After retirement, will I be allowed to choose the funds my money is invested in & can I still manage it electronically?  3] Unrelated to retirement, please state your opinion on the FLTCIP. I plan to buy this type coverage & am beginning to comparison shop.

Is there a website or publication that gives clear, definitive answers to questions about TSP AFTER RETIREMENT.  I have found tons of advice about TSP BEFORE RETIREMENT.

The low-cost administration fees of the TSP is the one advantage I am aware of in keeping my money in TSP after retirement. I’m asking you to enlighten me on all other advantages.

Godspeed to you & Hope with her checkup this month.

Last Roseanne Response:  Ya KNOW…. the amazing part of this dilemma is the total lack of understanding, over this ONE POINT….YOU CONTROL IT ALL….ALL of you do.  But you are so confused using nothing more than mangled pieces of disinformation and converse with each other….who also, don’t know jack$#it.  BUT THANK YOU…BECAUSE IF I AM MAKING YOU FOLKS TALK, OUT THERE, THEN MORE of you will take a an active participation in learning about your retirement.  Now, the million $ question…did you really read the TSP booklet?   I mean REALLY read the TSP 2 booklet.  You see that is THE PROBLEM.  WE want everyone else to do it for us. I keep telling you….this is not a one-size fits all!!!

You are all so concerned with worrying about not trusting the government (with your money as you say (as it relates to TSP)), but not concerned enough to read the booklet, that explains the why’s, and about this money.  No – you’d all rather sit in a break room and piss and moan about what’s wrong, rather than OPENING up the book(s) and reading it.  Why do I know so much….I WAS YOU TOO!!!!  Meaning a postal employee…not meaning I didn’t understand my retirement.  I understood my retirement the day I was hired.  Why do I know so much..it was my job to FIND FLAWS in every and anything related to HR and most specifically personnel matters. And I get the “concern” about leaving your money in the government, I don’t agree, but I hear this all the time.  WHEN do you realize we ARE the government…by the people, for the people….if you don’t like what is going on then vote this election.  But just like opening up that TSPBK-2, you won’t do that either….you will just bitch and moan in the break rooms…………….Roseanne

So let me relate a retirement this week…this employee has around 450 G in TSP (for all of you out there, that amount of money is NOT TYPICAL in a postal employee’s TSP fund) (side note…employee also inherited 450G too).  When we were discussing “combining” the two amounts.  I came out and asked, what amount of money did the person at Annuities R US/ CharlesSchwab/ MetLife/ StanleyMorgan (whatever annuity company the employee selected for the “inheritance”) “earn” by YOU rolling this 450G over to their financial vehicle.  The postal employee said I don’t know exactly, but my financial “advisor” told me he charged ONLY 5%.  I asked  “do you know the exact amount of money that the “broker” made?”  The response was  ”no, but I know I still have 95% of my money”.   I was floored, really… because that was 22,000+ that the employee was OK with just blowing that money off, had no idea of the total.  And maybe when you have that much of an inheritance, perhaps that 22G’s are a drop in the bucket, and that is fine too….but at least KNOW and understand what you are doing and why.  I say that because many don’t realize every time you do that, roll money over with any financial vehicle, there is a fee, sometimes a very hefty percentage.  YOU COULDN’T HAVE POSSIBLY THOUGHT THAT THEY DO THIS FOR FREE DO YOU!!!

So the next issue is the annuity versus a TSP monthly payment.  An annuity is based on the IRS life expectancy table…(all are). They give you more than what you would get if you simply divided the TOTAL amount you have in TSP by the number of IRS expected “months” left to live. That calculation should be your “figured” TSP Monthly Payment. This WOULD allow that money to go you your beneficiary, should you pass away.

When you PURCHASE any annuity (from ANY annuity vehicle), you SELL it to that financial vehicle…so your $$ is not in the government anymore (as perceived) if you purchase an annuity with your TSP money.    It does, however stay in the TSP fund if you do the monthly payment set up (versus an annuity).   If my retirement plan was FERS, I would opt for the TSP monthly payment, (which by the way YOU also get to determine what you want your monthly payment to be)…AND when it runs out, it runs out…  However, KEEP IN MIND….YOU need to make sure that you have (at LEAST) that TSP money broken into a minimum 120 payments (10 years) or you will suffer a penalty. YOU NEED to be strategic on this part of your retirement.  So you wanted my opinion, there it is on that.  Another tip almost everyone has a cell phone, and typically, it has a calculator on it USE IT…..SERIOUSLY.

And the follow up on the FLTCIP, I felt was very expensive and both my husband and I chose not to take this out.  I did not feel the premiums were affordable, when I looked into it (several years ago).  I felt (as I said at the time) that the premiums while working, are manageable, however decided later it would not be economical to carry into retirement. So naturally one would cancel the policy when they retired…and that is wasted money…nah.  That is NOT to say that FLTCIP is not a good or a wise investment, it may work perfect for you, I said we choose not to….again, nothing is a one-size fits all….  Roseanne

Q 4. Hi Roseanne I am a janitor at the PO and I have been out of work since the beginning of 2012.  I have had two surgeries and am still in serious pain. I am FERS and have been with the PO for 18 years and I will turn 62 in May, and plan to retire then.   My question is should I wait till I am all better and off OWCP to retire or take a disability retirement. Thank you so much for being there for people with difficult questions.

A 4. In all seriousness, I would say just wait until you reach age 62.  To get a disability retirement approval, takes patience and time.  If you’re eligible to retire in May, I would just wait.  There is going to be no real financial advantage, to filing for disability retirement because once you turn 62, the disability retirement is re-calculated again using your precise years and months of service.  Additionally disability retirement has to be approved, by the time the approval comes in, it would be no doubt beyond your 62nd birthday….so just retire in May, there is no approval needed, because you are eligible.  Roseanne

Busy month, Hope is still in remission and that we are thankful for.  Those 2 FERS vs CSRS retirement figures will have to be put off for another month.  But I will get that info to you, as some of you really wanted to see it side by side in black and white.  BUT keeping in mind that the FERS folks have total control over their money versus CSRS having NO control.

Till we speak again………………Roseanne

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