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Postal Retirement Q&A August 2016 by Roseanne Jefferson

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Good Day Postal Employees…..

Q 1a. Roseanne, I made a partial deposit about 5 years ago and stopped. I am planning to retire in 2 years. Am I entitled to get that money back If I’m not going to complete the deposit?

A 1a. Yes, however, OPM offers to allow you to fully pay back the deposit. If you are still going to continue to work an additional 2 years, why would you consider NOT paying it back fully? Roseanne

Q 1b.I don’t have enough credits to qualify for social security and I owe $8000 on my military deposit. I’m civil service and my military time already counts towards my retirement. Is it wise to pay the deposit with just two years left and then have to get a job to qualify for social security?

A1b. MY MAN!!! YES. YES. YES???????…someone out there is listening to me. Ok I’m better. You are correct in YOUR CASE as a CSRS Employee!! But keep in mind that you can NEVER work a job to attain those 40 quarters in Social Security earnings because your CSRS pension WILL BE REDUCED by those unpaid military years. Good job in getting this right. Roseanne

Q1c. Your are darn right I’m listening to you. If it were not for you, I would be totally ignorant about on a lot of retirement issues.But what about my original question concerning a partial payment towards my military buy back. Can I get that back?

A1c. YES…but keep in mind that OPM is going to have you complete a form (which will be located in your CSRS blue retirement booklet sent to you from HRSSC (OPM Form 1515) to sign off that you are NOT going to buy back your military time. Yes OPM will refund your over payment to the retirement fund. Your overpayment is what you paid into the fund for the military years.

Q 2. Hello, I have spoken to you in the past and thanks for answering my questions. Question: 1 Is what will be my pension numbers be retire early 2021 at 33 yrs and 56? Will my SS get reduced by my pension. Will and what % will my wife will get and last for now HAHA ! Is there any increase in pension for inflation? Thank You J

A 2. HI J, Our retirement is guided by federal regulations. As it relates to FERS, it is 1% of your high 3 average salary times the number of years worked (1.1% for Age 62 +20 ). Keep in mind that FERS is a 3 part retirement, and one of the parts of your retirement is Social Security….so no…If you are FERS then NO your SS will not reduce your FERS pension. As far as the spouse, selecting a full spousal annuity will guarantee her (should you pre-decease your spouse) 50% of your pension, and the ability for her to continue with your federal health benefits. There is also an option to select 25% as a pension amount for the spouse. Roseanne

Q 3. Greetings from a long time follower who values and quotes you on a regular basis. Sick Leave: when I retire at the end of 2017, I hope to have 2850 hours accumulated. Basic math indicates this is 17.8 months. Will this 17.8 months be considered in its entirety as time towards final good years? Or am I going to lose a portion of it? I project that I will have 33 years 2 months before I retire and I am really hoping that the additional 18ish months will be credited. Once again I truly thank you and look forward to your response. The G-Man

A 3. Hi G Man, The best way…is to literally count the work days ( minus all the holidays) for the year…month…whatever. Get THAT number. If used (Sick or AL), you are earning leave as you are using leave (adding SL…because AL is advanced)
Add all of that and divide by 8 (hrs)…should give you the number of days and you can count from there. YES..It is old school…it works though.

It used to be 22 days or more on an annuity estimate would roll over to credit as an additional month. Then days under 21 would be lost. It is no longer being calculated that way on the annuity estimate people !! Just sayin’ Roseanne

Q 4a. Roseanne, I am having a problem getting my health insurance coverage with my FEHB terminated. I have obtained health coverage through my wife’s group coverage. I sent a form to the OPM in early Dec. 2015 (open season) requesting termination effective 12/31/2015. I sent an e-mail on 2-1-16 again requesting termmination. I have tried numerous times, calling the OPM phone number (1-888-767-6738) and was only successful one time in talking to a representative who tried to pass me on and I was cut off in the process. I sent another e-mail on 3-4-2016 again requesting this coverage to be terminated. I haven’t heard back from OPM on either e-mail. In the mean-time they are deducting $632.00 per month from my retirement allotment. This termination was to be effective 12/31/2016. I am at my wits end. I would like this health coverage terminated and the premiums refunded. Can you offer any solution, or advice ? Sincerely, S

A 4a Hi S, You know by my column I’m a straight shooter. You don’t say how long you have been retired….and that makes me think that your canceled your health benefits during open season….which was the SAME month in which your ended your employment. If that is correct…that is one answer…OR you’ve been retired for several years and during open season as a retiree, you elect to cancel your health benefits……let me guess…..it’s the first one…let me know Roseanne

Q 4b. Thank you for your quick response !! I retired 5/1/2015 and attempted to cancel my health insurance during open season of 2015 for the cancellation to be effective 12/31/15. Thanks, S

A4b. Hi S, Well NOT was I was expecting in terms of the date of your retirement. I would have suspected your retired in Jan/Feb/Mar 2016. But for you to retire in May and then during the prior open health benefit season cancel your FEHB (and I will assume the paperwork was timely!!0..the time frame is a bit longer than I would have expected. Keep in mind when we/you retire, there are many other postal employees that retire on the same day, or same pay period. Each employee’s FEHB is NOT handled individually…it goes through a process called “batching”, where everyone who is similarly situated (same retirement date and carrying over FEHB) is done in a “mass process change” versus doing each one individually. I am a person that did FEHB individually with drop dead dates..one by one, by one, by one. So the batching process really makes SENSE!!

When we retire, we are paid one month in arrears. So in essence when you “change” your HB, or cancel (of course during open season)…AND the fact that we are paid 1 month behind, the change for HB would/should show up in the February check. (why…because when you are paid on Feb 1, it is for the month of January). Well only ONE month has passed and I do believe your insurance will in the next 6-8 weeks be cancelled and you should receive a refund check. Keep in touch and let me when the change (of no HB) and a refund check is sent to you. It helps with others who have an issue like this, and lets me give them information about the time it takes in “real time”. Roseanne

Q4c. Hi Roseanne, I received notification today (7/11/16) that my HB was canceled and I will receive my refund with my Aug.1 allotment. I finally was able to call and talk with a customer service agent. She mailed another cancellation request form to me that I had to complete and sign. I also had to provide proof of insurance with a date of Jan. 1 coverage. I appreciate your help and advice so much and have for many years. I hope this info will help you and possibly someone else.

A 4c. You are more than welcome. I am glad this turned out in your favor…..it doesn’t always…..Happy Retirement!! Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, First of all, I would like to thank for all the work you do for us. I do learn a lots from reading your column. So glad that you are back, hoping you will be better and better each day. Please help me with my question.
I am FERS employee.
I will be at Minimum Age Retirement ( MRA ) with 30 years of services in 2017.
My social security statement estimates that my benefits is around
$ 2,000 at 67
$1,400 at 62
Then my special supplement will be calculated as
30/40 time 2,000 ——- .75 time 2,000 = 1,500
OR 30/40 time 1,400 ——- .75 time 1,400 = 1,050

The difference is big $450, and I don’t know for sure since OPM will not tell you until you retire. I can’t decide. : ( . I hope you have time and clear this one for me. Again, appreciate all the work you do for our Postal Employee. Best wishes to you and your family. CT

A 5. HI CT, You are welcome…I do try to enlighten you all out there about the pitfalls, and give you many retirement clues that you won’t find too many other places, if at all. You see I do the ‘Special Supplement’ in a very different calculation….because in theory…the Special Supplement (the replacement for one part of your retirement (SS), until you become eligible to collect SS). The Special Supplement will never be as much or real close to the Social Security amount even at age 62. For calculations for the SPEC SUPP, (FYI been using this method……like 20 years) I use the “down n dirty” method…it goes like this….The Spec Supp is paid by using this calculation…between $30-$35 per month (so I use $33) times the FULL number of years worked (MINUS….any military buy back…(don’t shoot the messenger)). With 30 years I would estimate the Spec Supp around $990-1050. You could always email me back and tell me how close I am, I am told within $20-40 per month. Keep in mind that the Spec Supp is paid by OPM and not Social Security. Look at my method 33×30=$990 – 35×30= $1050. So its easy to see which one of your calculations is correct.

I hope this has helped in giving some things to think about. Roseanne

Q 6. Dear Roseanne, My uncle is in a (City/State) veterans hospital having some health issues. He is over 90 years old and receives a US Post Office pension of approximately $30,000 year. The social worker from the hospital called me to say he had no medicare coverage for his further care. After further investigation I see that he might be covered under FEHB. The social worker couldn’t find that my uncle had that either. I know my uncle retired sometime in the late 1980’s after many years with the postal service. Wouldn’t he have been set up, automatically, with FEHB at that time?
I know my uncle has some money but it would seem like he could, at least, get some help with prescriptions, rehab, or some of the generally allowed coverages. Any suggestions you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Roseanne . .

A 6. Hi R, He should be covered under FEHB….and if he retired in the late 80’s he is a CSRS retiree, fully vested and should have health benefits and a life insurance policy (that if took under the normal Basic Life Insurance retirement deduction of 75%…he would not have paid a premium after age 65, but still have a federal life insurance policy in tact with FEGLI.

At the age of 90, his retirement was no doubt PRE FERS and he may not have paid into medicare (seriously if he is that old…). And for him to have that large of a pension, says to me that he was an EXTREMELY higher level employee, like HQ maybe even a PCES employee…to be retired for that many years with that type of pension.

But what do you do? You are going to first call 1-888-767-6738, that is OPM (Office of Personnel Management) which is where all federal pensions come from. He would have had a “CSA” number…..that is how “we” are all categorized in OPM.

The Post Office is NOT GOING TO HAVE ANYTHING….don’t frustrate yourself….there have been 2 mass computer changes since your uncle’s retirement. Additionally, the personnel offices in each district, were reduced from large staffs, aligned with the number of employees in that district, to an all-inclusive centralized personnel facility located in North Carolina. (Just for the column…NO drinks and meals are not “included”…I just had to…R)

I don’t know if you are a postal employee or not…(the PRE FERS reference) .but when we retire health benefits and life insurance were (and still are THE BENEFITS). And that health premium is automatically deducted from his pension check. And at age 90 (if he took the 75% reduction, he has not paid a premium since age 65, in alignment with the structure of this policy) but still has a federal life insurance in tact….or should. Good luck, please let me know if I have helped in any way. Roseanne

R 6. Dear Roseanne, First of all, wow, did you ever help! Thank you so much! I called OPM and, of course, I had to wait for about an hour but finally got a live body to speak to. I have to get my uncle’s S.S. number to get his CSA number but just knowing I got to the right place was enough. He is still at the Vet’s Hospital but I’ll monitor his progress via phone calls to see if he needs to be transferred elsewhere.

I haven’t ever worked for the Postal Dept. but am retired from a state government, in a completely different state from my uncle. I have been trying to get my uncle’s “ducks in a row” from 1,500 miles away. My uncle has never been married and has no children so me and my cousin, are the only remaining blood relatives he has. O.K., hope this isn’t too much information but just wanted you to know more about the situation and to send my gratitude for your help. Thanks so very much, Roseanne, R

Till we speak again……….. Roseanne

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  • dalehamson

    I recently requested an immediate retirement. I contacted HR Services and have received the Blue Book. After review, I noted that most of the information being requested has been submitted to HR before. I have also completed my military buy back. Paid in full. Being greatly confused, I contacted HR Services by phone and ask why I needed to submit all the information again. The agent said any previously submitted information was only kept for two years there fore I needed to submit it again.

    My question is What’s up with that?

  • Mark Mark

    Dear Roseanne,

    A couple of weeks ago I ordered annuity estimates for Oct 1, Nov 1, Dec 1 and Jan 1, 2017. October and November estimates are correct but December and January are not. They have an incorrect lower salary for all of 2013 and a lower High 3 average.

    In light of this, on August 17, I decided to put in for Sep 30 through eRetire but it wouldn’t let me make an appt for counseling. I called the next day and the earliest appt I could get was Sep 13. I was advised by the rep at HRSSC to wait until my counseling session to ask about these errors but if I wait until then it sure doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for correcting this. I’m CSRS if that matters.

    Also, as a clerk with a recently arbitrated National Agreement, there is an additional discrepancy with regards to my salary history. The arbitrator ruled the salary schedule is retroactive to 11/14/15 and clerks will get backpay from then until 8/5/16 yet my annuity estimate salary history only shows the new salary going into effect on 8/6/16. That’s almost 9 months at a lower rate of pay.

    As for the backpay itself, APWU says it will be included in the checks dated 11/4/16 but I won’t be on the rolls by then so I’m not sure I’ll even get this.

    What recourse does a person have if they feel a mistake was made by the USPS when figuring out their annuity and sends incorrect info to OPM?

    I’m sorry for all the questions at once but I would really appreciate any advice you have to offer.

    Thanks for helping all of us out.

  • Dan Makowski

    Dear Roseanne,
    I am a civil service employee with 40 yrs. service. I plan on retireing in the next 2 yrs. I will retire with 440 hrs. annual leave. I was told that you would get paid for several holidays even after you retire. Is this true and would you please explain. Thank you.

  • Lydia Scoggins Long

    Dear Roseanne,
    I have 16 years service and am 57 yrs of age. I wish to retire at the end of this year if at all possible because of health issues with my husband and my parents that I must attend to. What steps do I need to take? I have no idea where to even start. Thank you

  • JOE HOLGUIN

    I am csr 36yrs and 30 credits ss want put 40 credits is worth it or not to collect or am I wasting my time w/ss

  • Joshua Adams

    Hi Roseanne,
    Does someone who steals from the Post Office and get caught get to keep their retirement!

  • Scott George

    Hello,
    I have paid to have my 9.5 years in the Air Force credited
    to my USPS service. I am currently receiving a 30% service-connected disability
    from the VA. When I retire from the USPS at MRA, do I continue to receive my
    disability payments?
    I was told by a friend that I do not, but I thought that
    only applied to pay if I were receiving military retirement pay.