Contributors

Postal Retirement Q&A September 2015 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….

Q 1. Hi Roseanne,

I’ve just been converted to a NTFT clerk after 23 years as a PTF clerk. I worked nearly full time most of the 23 years except in the beginning of my career when I was a PTF. I was converted to regular after 3 years to full-time.

I know my years of service as PTF were counted in hours worked per year. I hoped my RTR will show the number of hours worked per year. I thought the lost hours table would show this, but it has a zero for every year. This can not be right. I know I didn’t work full time the first 3 years. Is there any way to request this information and if so, how do I calculate my years of service. Also as a NTFT clerk I work 36.75 hours a week, is that considered full time towards retirement. One more question. If 36.75 is full time, can I take leave to bring it up to 40, or would that be considered overtime. I want to get full retirement credit each year, i don’t mind taking leave to bring it up to 40 if needed. Thanks for any help. HJ

A 1. Hi HJ, Just so you don’t go overboard with this, because I am not sure why you are asking a question about “lost time” WITHOUT relating it to military service. Because generally the term lost time relates to military issues….

Are you thinking that because you don’t work a full 40 hour week, that the “balance” of (if you worked 36.75) 3.25 would translate to “lost time”. Is that what you are thinking….??? If you are, you are worrying needlessly to find something (lost hours) on somewhere that it would never be. That is NOT what lost hours refer to.

As far as going from FT to PTF / NTFT…..IF the position (ANY POSITION) is less than 40 hours a week (80 hrs bi-weekly), it creates a “pro-ration” element that is applied to the base (salary). (WHY…because 40 hours a week is the base salary model….a normal 8 hr day…normal 40 hr week…80 hr bi-week).

When you request a “Benefits Estimate Report (versus a NARCES Annuity Estimate), that Benefits Estimate Report shows the pro ration factor, it does not show it on the NARCES. The calculations are done using a 40hr a week model, and so if you work 36.75 hours you (and the post office) are not putting the same amount into the FERS retirement, as your co worker (same step, same level) who works a 40 hour week, so they have to find a way to ensure that the 36 hour worker, does not have the same retirement amount as the 40 hour worker……and why should they when they (I know not your fault!!) are putting the same amount into the FERS fund. I hope this has helped you out a bit. Roseanne

R 1.Thanks. That does help, I was confused. Thanks for clearing up the lost time issue. How do I request a benefits estimate report. Is it possible to use leave to bring me up to 40 hours a week or am I limited to the 36.75 hours I am assigned to in this new ntft position? I know a lot of clerks are being put in ntft positions? HJ

RA 1. Hi HJ, No you cannot use LEAVE- AL or SL to “translate” into work hours. Now, even if you worked a 40 hours a week, your position is still not 40hr per wk “position”. AND so because of your position NOT being full-time you cannot get a NARCES estimate, but only the Benefits Estimate Report. You can go to liteblue and log on with your EIN and PIN…go to MYHR and look around to find where YOU can order that Benefits Estimate Report. If you have difficulty, then call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273 to get them to assist in getting that report for you. Once you read it, you will see what pro-ration factor they have used on your base salary. Roseanne

Q 2. Hi Roseanne

I’m a letter carrier with 29 years service…I have one year of sick leave accumulated. Is there anyway to use this sick leave so that I can retire today with 30 years service so that I can receive full benefits?….I’m not yet 60 yrs old (only 58), Thanks, KM

A 2. HI KM, No. I believe you at least understand the core process of this retirement, by the way you phrased the question. AND NO you CANNOT use sick leave hours/days/weeks/years accumulated to gain eligibility (years) to make (30 yrs). Sick leave accumulation only adds to the years “calculated ” to come up with a monthly pension. You must be ELIGIBLE FIRST, before you could add sick leave to the total years of service. It can’t be used to GAIN eligibility if you don’t initially 30 yrs at your MRA, or 20 years at age 60. Roseanne

R 2. Thanks Roseanne…appreciate your time and expertise Continued success!

Q 3. Hi Roseanne,
Thank you for all of the information that you have provided to all of us for the last couple of years. I have learned so much from reading your columns. I plan on retiring either April or May 2018. I am am FERS employee, and I will be 57 (my MRA) and have 30 postal years in April 2018. My question is I am thinking about going from a full-time clerk at the plant to a PTF clerk in a smaller office. Does this change from full time to part time flex have any kind of effect on my annuity? I have questions like am I eligible still for the special supplement? How would my high 3 average salary be figured since I am now going to be a part time employee? Would I be better to stay as I am? TJ

A 3. Hi TJ,
I have written about this question a few times before in the column, and I still have many that are confused by this. When you change your “rate of pay”, and you will by becoming a PTF, especially at the END of your career, it will have an effect called “pro-ration”. If you look at if from the fiscal perspective, your last 4 years (if retiring in 2018), could not be calculated identically (for retirement purposes) the same, as worker who is salaried full-time employee.

EXAMPLE SITUATION….. PTF vs FT — Both employees have 30 (credible) years of postal service, both are level 6-0 (same BASE salary for a 6-O) but COWORKER (is FT) & works a full 80 hours a bi-weekly. (That salary generates a precise retirement percentage deduction, which is based upon the yearly salary divided by 26 pay periods). So generally (unless you are looking at a paycheck that has higher level hours) even with 25 hours of OT on your paycheck, the retirement deduction should still be the same as if you worked 80 hours.

If you change to PTF, the pay rate is based upon an hourly rate (vs FT Yearly Salary). The hourly rate for a 6-O is higher than it is for a full-time (which is to compensate for the PTF not being paid for the holidays). And those part flex hours create (times the hourly rate) create the base for the retirement deduction (for THAT 2 WEEK PERIOD).

The base salary for the PTF is never going to be the SAME as the FT with a solid 80 bi-week base. And so, your retirement deduction going into the FERS retirement system, is not going to be as high as the deposit made by the FT employee.. (less hours = less retirement deduction) so the PTF is ALWAYS going to put less in the FERS retirement system, than the FT counterpart. Due to the part time status your retirement estimate has to be done manually. And yes EVEN if you worked 40 hours a week the entire time you were employed. WHY because your status in the system as “not full time”, will not allow the system to generate an estimate. To make it hopefully even more clear….the PTF & matching PO contributions, and FT & matching contributions will be different. Less hours (less yearly salary) = less employee and less matching PO contribution.

FERS ONLY: If you understand that your retirement is CALCULATED, using 1% of your high 3 average salary, then your (last 3 high3) base salaries IS THE factor in determining what your pension will be. Then you add the complexity of hours within that NTFT position, (if that NTFT is less than 80 bi-weekly) will also add to the reduction that the pro-ration will apply to the retirement calculations. I hope that puts it in a better perspective and was not more confusing.

The Special supplement is paid as long as you meet ALL the requirements for the Special Supplement….AT least your MRA and at least 30 credible years of service OR at least age 60 with at least 20 years of credible service.

As far as should you stay where you are…..I could never answer a question like that! This is your career, make the best decision you can with what is offered to you…that is the best advice I can give. Roseanne

Q 4. Hi, Roseanne, I found your webpage while looking at retirement info, and I wonder if you can help me? I’m trying to see if my fiance’ is eligible for early retirement, but we’re not sure how to find that out. He’s been with the post office for 30+ years, is 56, and will be fully eligible next May. We’re trying to see if he can leave sooner than May, under “early retirement”. Can you tell us how to find this out, and what to do if he is eligible? Thank you!

A. 4. Yes he is …..but with great financial reductions, review the information on MRA+10 Retirement.

R 4. Thanks for the response, but I have yet to see information on the “MRA+10” retirement. What is that?

RR 4. See Below, taken from the OPM website
MRA+10 Retirement
If you have 10 or more years of service, you can retire at the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA).
Age Reduction
Under this type of retirement, your annuity will be reduced for each month that you are under age 62. The reduction is 5% per year (5/12 of a percent per month). However, your annuity will not be reduced if you completed at least 30 years of service, or if you completed at least 20 years of service and your annuity begins when you reach age 60.
You can reduce or eliminate this age reduction if you choose to have your annuity begin at a date later than your Minimum Retirement Age. You can choose any beginning date between your MRA and 2 days before your 62nd birthday.
And you are not eligible for the Special Supplement. Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne,
Thank you for all that you do for postal employees. I’m a retired postal worker. I retired in 2013. Everything went fine for me, and I had no problems whatsoever. For me, the real question now is for my mom. My dad was a retired postal worker. He passed away in 1995. My mom started receiving Survivors Benefits at that time. In 2008, at the age of 71, she remarried. Her new husband, my stepdad, is also a retired postal worker. He is now 92 years old and she is 77. Upon his passing, can she collect his Survivors Benefits also. We are not sure if she can draw two Survivors Benefits. Someone also told her that they need to be married for ten years before she can get his Survivors Benefits. I think they will make seven years this December. Any help you can offer her will be appreciated. TW
A 5. Hi TW,
1. I will assume your father was a CSRS employee, meaning your mother has (based on your father passing away a “CSF” number (annuitants have a CSA #…widow/widower has a CSF #).
2. Your mother remarried at age 71, well beyond the limitation age to continue with spousal benefits from a deceased federal employee.

3. I would say yes, and the someone who told you 10 years is wrong in terms of how long you have to be “married” to HAVE to include the spouse….and that is 9 months !! not 10 years. And I think she can collect both. I actually KNOW of a postal employee (female) same scenario…married to one postal employee, he passed, she collected the spousal portion of his annuity. Remarried at age 60 something…..and he passed away, and I do believe she was also collecting the second husband’s spousal annuity, when he passed away as well. See the information below:

CSRS Survivor Benefit Elections 3 Chapter 52

Section 52A1.1-2 Definitions

A. Current Spouse

B. Current Spouse Survivor Annuity

C. Former Spouse

D. Former Spouse Survivor Annuity

E. Fully Reduced Annuity

F. Insurable Interest Annuity

G. Partially Reduced Annuity

H. Self-Only Annuity

“Current spouse” means a living person who is married to the employee or retiree at the time of the employee’s or retiree’s death.

“Current spouse survivor annuity” means a recurring benefit that is payable (after the employee’s or retiree’s death) to a current spouse who meets the marriage duration requirements described in Chapter 71, Spouse Benefits – Death of an Annuitant, section 71A2.1-2, paragraph B.

“Former spouse” means a living person who was married for at least 9 months to an employee or retiree who performed at least 18 months of creditable service in a position covered by CSRS and whose marriage to the employee or retiree was terminated prior to the death of the employee or retiree. “Former spouse” includes only a person who was married to an employee on or after May 7, 1985, or who was the spouse of a retiree who retired on or after May 7, 1985, regardless of the date of the termination of the marriage.

“Former spouse survivor annuity” means a recurring benefit that is payable to a former spouse after the employee’s or retiree’s death.
“Fully reduced annuity” means the recurring payments received by a retiree who has elected the maximum allowable reduction in annuity to provide a current spouse survivor annuity and/or a former spouse survivor annuity or annuities.

“Insurable interest annuity” means the recurring payments to a retiree who has elected a reduction in annuity to provide a survivor annuity to a person with an insurable interest in the retiree.
“Partially reduced annuity” means the recurring payments under CSRS to a retiree who has elected less than the maximum allowable reduction in annuity to provide a current spouse or former spouse survivor annuity.

“Self-only annuity” means the recurring unreduced payments to a retiree who has elected not to provide a survivor annuity to anyone.

CSRS and FERS Handbook April, 1998

I hope this has helped. Roseanne

R 5. Thanks Roseanne for your quick response. Yes, my dad was CSRS, and this info will help a lot. I will sit with my mom and go over this with her.

Till we speak again…..Roseanne

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  • CS Stephenson

    I am always amazed by the amount of knowledge you have in this field. Stay safe, this is my year to retire and I want you around come May ~

  • Debbie Rideout

    I was separated in 2010 because of the NRP process. I have been trying to find someone to answer my questions. I hope you can help me. I have called several numbers ie: Human Resources, Personnel at my facility, SSA etc. and have not gotten help. All I want to know is how much I will receive per month for retirement and what my insurance will cost me. I am a FERS retirement