Postal Retirement Q&A March 2016 by Roseanne Jefferson



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 Click here for prior Q&As and Click here for Q&As prior to July 2014.

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

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  • WA

    Roseanne, I have applied for disability retirement with the PO and have been told by HR that I should do optional retirement because I am 62
    with 21 yrs service. Can you help me decide what is the best way to go. I’ve requested reasonable accommodations. I have an illness that is incurable but may be improved with treatment. I still have a 13 yr old daughter at home and need to keep working for her.

  • Jim

    Roseanne, I plan on retiring in about 18 months with 29 years of service. could you please explain how my 1100 hrs of accrued sick leave will affect my monthly fers payment in dollars.I have a chronic condtion that my physician would most likely sign off on to give me about 2 months off as a transition into retirement. Is that possible?

  • Guy Potter

    Do you know if there is no penalty the last year of earnings before 62? I read somewhere the last year of earnings there is no penalty? is this true? for the fers retirement? The last year before social security?

  • Mike Metiva

    Rosanne, I know to have health insurance carry through with you and your spouse into retirement you will have to have carried them 5yrs. What if the spouse has better dental and vision insurance and I choose to be on their dental and vision plan ONLY. I than retire having carried my HEALTH insurance through out my postal career, 30yrs. Now, retired I want to get back into the FEHB Dental and Vision. Can I sign back up without paying the higher amounts since I’ve carried the medical health insurance, or do I need to have carried the dental and vision the last 5 years that I worked as well?