Contributors

Postal Retirement Q&A December 2016 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!! It has been a few months since I have written the column, but have still continued to personally respond to your questions emailed to me. I have been taking it a bit slow after my surgery…..but back on track and ready to give you all some helpful information as you begin to learn about retirement.

Q.1 Hi Roseanne, I hope you are well. I am a retired rural carrier ( 2 years now ) I have two friends who are my same age ( 62 ) and both worked as RCAs for many years before recently going regular as career employees. A recent conversation with one of them raised some alarming information in my mind, and I was hoping you could shed some light on the situation. As I said, I have been retired for two years now and have not exactly kept up on things that no longer apply to my situation.

As I understood it, you could retire under the FERS system at age 62 or older, with 5 years or more of career service. I also understood that years as a sub counted for nothing, time-wise, towards years of service. You could carry your insurance into retirement if you had it for 5 consecutive years before retirement. Have these numbers changed, or do we just have some bad info? Also, do they still use the average of your high three consecutive years of pay X 1% X years of service ? Or, did they change it to 5 years?

We would appreciate any info you could provide in clearing this up. Many times when I was still working you cleared up questions I had through your Q & A column or by responding to an E-Mail. I surely appreciated the service you provided. Best wishes DK

A 1. HI DK, Nothing has changed…..so the only thing I can say is bad information. Everything you said is still the regulations relative to FERS retirement. And yes with 5 or more years of “credible” service, and over age 62, then yes you are eligible to retire. YOU must have 5 years on continuous years of health benefits immediately preceding your retirement…(that is also a rule as well that may be confusing if we are talking “precisely” 5 years). They still use the high 3 and still pay 1.% of your high 3 average salary. There is another calculation of 1.1%, but that requires you to be at least 62 with more than 20 years. I hope this has helped to clear up any misunderstandings. Roseanne

Q 2. Roseanne, I took the early out 3 yrs ago and retired. I recently applied for an Assistant Rural Carrier position. This job is delivering amazon packages on Sundays and holidays. Yes, I know how you feel about this subject, but can I apply for this job? Thank you

A. 2. Yes you can apply for this job, and they probably will hire you. Since you know how I feel about the this subject….then you know my reasons why ….but yes you can….you knew that when you wrote..Roseanne

Q 3. Roseanne, I work with another 55 year old employee, who will be going back to (XYZ Country), after retirement. His elderly family want him there now. He will have 30 years federal service when he is 58.25 postal and 5 military, which he bought back. At 58 years old will he still get his supplement, or does he need 30 years postal employment to qualify for the supplement.. His wife and child will be staying here, will his family health insurance be affected, by him moving there. His son is only 12. He will be going to a seminar, but he doesn’t speak very good English. I told him about you, and decided to write you. Thank you for all you do..RD

A 3. HI RD REALLY REALLY nice of you to do this for him…really

Let me say this…..I did a retirement of a postal employee that after his retirement went to Portugal to live.

His wife was a “benefactor” of an estate in Portugal…and so he wanted to retire and be there with his wife …(ahhh who wouldn’t )….(which he did with an MRA+10…so the Special Supplement WAS NOT an issue…he KNEW HE WOULD NOT GET IT because he was not eligible for it). And in doing research on that case, I found there to be really “tight” “strict rules” regarding federal pensions and them being “re-allocated”..(maybe not the best word…but the only one I can come up with right now) to another country. This was a very complex situation…and I think that perhaps….”where” the “retiree” resides….may have some affect on that retiree being able to collect their retirement in another country…not trying to be “political”..but what is the “relationship” of the US to the country that this employee wants to retire to…and get his retirement check. So I would suggest that before anyone would DO THAT…I would contact OPM “Office of Personnel Management” for an answer that “embodies” ALL the federal regulations. Roseanne

Q 3a Thanks for that info. He will have 30 years federal service when he is 58. 25 postal and 5 military, which he bought back. At 58 years old will he still get his supplement, or does he need 30 years postal employment to qualify for the supplement ate age 58 (his MRA)? Not sure if were clear on this .Another employee seems to think he has to wait to 60 years old because he won’t have enough postal years.

A 3a He will be “eligible” for the special supplement BECAUSE he has a total years of 30 (credible)…and is beyond his MRA….What is NOT PAID in the Special Supplement, is the 5 years of military that he bought back to add to the overall years of service … but…..its counted in the FERS pension calculation … NOT in the Special Supplement calculation. Keep in mind those are the rules….that MAY NOT APPLY TO HIM if moving to another country, in which maybe the political climate is uneasy…..which is what this email was about in the first place. I don’t want anything taken out of context. Roseanne

Final Response:I will give this to him tomorrow. Thank you so much for helping out as he came to this country and became a US citizen and joined the military. You are so kind

READER STATEMENT: Just letting your readers know about retirement annuity process if divorced.I retired on Feb 3 2016 after 43 years CSRS. I am still getting interim payments.I have called many times and I am told it is in court order division.I asked if this was normal coming up on 9 months and they said yes. Keep up the good work L

My Response: Hi L, That’s a long time to work….first you overpaid the fund….being CSRS and having more than 41 years and 11 months…and if there is a divorce decree…that perhaps you didn’t acknowledge on the retirement paperwork…and OPM had to go look for it….(because they HAVE it…all divorce attorneys send any federal employee’s divorce paperwork to OPM…) but it you didn’t send it and they have to look for it…..that could be the reason it it taking this time….there are so many reasons….if YOU DID provide the divorce with your retirement paperwork….can they find the ex spouse… BUT typically this is a result of not sending in your divorce decree with your retirement paperwork, Roseanne

His Response: Hi Roseanne Thanks for the reply. Divorce decree paperwork had been on file since 1997, all parties knew and were aware of situation. It just got finalized, nine months to the day with retroactive check. I knew I went a year past 41 -11 and the retirement contributions were returned also.Thankfully I went on to a better job. OPM said that they have 90 days once it goes to the court order division. I am very knowledgeable about all things CSRS….But this was beyond the pale.
Keep up the great work..L

MORAL TO THIS STORY….yes OPM does have your divorce decree’s on file….every attorney knows to send the divorce decree to OPM so that the “court order” is on file, and will be calculated when that postal employee retires. However, in the retirement paperwork, there is a question about former spouses and if you have to pay a “portion” of your annuity to a former spouse. And if that answer is yes, then it tells you to send a copy of your divorce decree WITH your retirement paperwork….

YOU GENERALLY KNOW IF YOU HAVE TO PAY PART OF YOUR RETIREMENT TO YOUR EX….
SO not sending it, is really going to delay the retirement, why make them look for it…..they will look, they will find it, and then you will be waiting months…simply because YOU didn’t send it.

Q 4. Can you represent me on EEO case against USPS ? I was a victim of workplace violence and still in chronic pain from 2004 assault by coworker who had 3 incidents at USPS and was found guilty of assault at us federal court. USPS were never going accommodate me and are putting me out of my restrictions and made my injuries worse. I want a settlement against USPS for failure call ambulance,not following our no zero tolerance policy and putting me out my restrictions and where is my modify job?

A 4. I am not an attorney, and I would suggest that you find an attorney if you should decide to pursue an EEO against the US Postal Service. Roseanne

Q 5. Good afternoon Roseanne, I never received your response to my question pertaining to any part time jobs in the post office after retirement. I was a letter carrier for 35 years. thanks jp

A 5. Hi JP, check your emails….I responded the same day, Oct 17th….my response was ANY job OTHER than FEDERAL…..and postal is federal. Roseanne

Q 6. I hope you’re doing well and thank you for all you do for us. I’m planning to retire on 01/31/2017. I just received a letter from HR letting me know that my personnel folder has a DELETED COPY which does not contain character of service. They tell me that if is not received within 60 days my military service will be removed from my service history.

I served in the US Army for 12 years 3 months and I did buy my time back when I joined. I looked online in my OPM file and I noticed that the DD 214 they have on file does not show the character. Some people call the DD 214 service form -4 the long form since it shows the type of discharge I obtained, HONORABLE. If I mail them a copy of my long form DD214 will that be sufficient and I’m also a disabled veteran and I can obtain a letter stating my time of service and discharge character with the disability rating. Once I mail the information they’re requesting, how do I check to make sure that their request is satisfied. Thank you for your help and I hope to retire on January 31, 2017 with 40 years service. SV

A6. SV, When USPS hires an employee that has military service, we required (or did!!) a DD214 Member 4 copy. This has the soldier’s character of service when discharged. The reason it’s important is because it must be “honorable” versus “dishonorable” and a few other characters of service, that can be disqualifying. I know what I am going to tell you is going to sound lame….because to have to do this is lame….and what is going on is LAME…

BUT DO IT ANYWAY

Make a copy of your member 4 copy of your DD214….attach a letter that states, per HRSSC request…I am re-submitting (ADDRESSED TO HRSSC) a copy of my member 4 DD214 (which is located in my eOPF) that details the “character” of service when I received my “honorable discharge”. Make sure you include ANY AND ALL information relative to you paying your military BUY BACK…Why is this lame…because they not only would NOT have hired you unless you had an honorable discharge, and if not caught then (OMG!!), when buying the military time back, you have to include your DD214 and military earnings form….so…I don’t know what to say but…just do it. Anything that has to do with your VA disability has no bearing on this, and really is not “postal” business. Roseanne

Q 7. Dear Roseanne, I am 53 years old. I have been at the Post Office as a carrier for over 32 years in FERS. I am on OWCP now after 3 surgeries. My question is should I take Disability retirement, or try to stay on OWCP until I am 56? My lawyer want me to take disability retirement, but others at the Post Office told me to not take it. They said retire at 56, then take Disability Social Security.
I am not sure I can stay on OWCP for the next 2.5 years. Not sure what I should do. Thanks T

A 7. HI Tom, I would suggest calling HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273 to begin the process of disability retirement with FERS (US Postal Service)…they will instruct you on the process, but begin right away. Roseanne

Response: Thank you. Is FERS disability better than OWCP even though I have 32 years in? I don’t know how pay works under disability. I don’t want to regret taking disability retirement in 2.5 years when I am 56. Thanks again

Final Response: TO ALL

If you have a legitimate disability that makes you unable to do your job, you have the option to file for disability retirement. If you are a FERS employee, because Social Security is a part of (3 part Retirement program) your retirement, you would have to also file for disability with Social Security as well.

The criteria for approval is VERY different for each of the systems… (Social Security & FERS/CSRS)…but you have that option. The question was “is FERS disability better than OWCP”…(even though he had 32 years in)..? FERS retirement is what you should be on, morally. To stay on OWCP when you can retire, is unfair…to the USPS…it is. Being on OWCP requires the PO to pay OWCP for “you”, and another employee to take “your” place. And if injured on the job it should be that way. But when its time to retire and you stay on OWCP then it’s really not fair to the organization.

I’M sure they are gonna love me for this…..but again, if you are unable to do your job and you need to file for disability retirement, you need to call HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273

One thing that maybe you all don’t know….you don’t have to have been injured on the job to file for disability retirement. Disability Retirement is NOT because you were injured on the job, it is for an employee that by the nature of their illness/or injury….job related or not, are unable to perform the functions of their job…period. That is the requirement, it is up to YOU the employee, to follow the instructions given to you by HRSSC. Your approval comes from OPM not the Postal Service. You will have narrate and provide medical documentation, your physician(s) will have to narrate and provide documentation, yes, all that, but it is an option for you if find yourself in that position.

Have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

TILL we speak again………….Roseanne

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