Contributors

Postal Retirement Q&A February 2017 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!!!

IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT RETIREMENT OR HAVE RETIRED RECENTLY YOU WILL WANT TO READ THIS COLUMN…..I mean this!!!

I want to address some of the emails that I have received, NOT from postal or federal employees….but from their children, or in some cases grandchildren. When a postal employee passes away, much of what our children think is “we retired from the post office” And that is true. But what most of us don’t necessarily talk about is WHO really pays us after we retire. And so years can go by and when that postal retiree passes away, the family is lost as to who has the insurance, or how to even go about applying for it. And during a death, with emotions and grief, the last thing you need is a search party to find out about the life insurance. What would you expect the children to do….or course…they are going to call the post office….after this retiree has been retired for 10 or 20 years. The post office is NOT going to have ANYTHING ON THIS RETIREE ..AT ALL.
The Postal Service has changed computer systems several times over the course of 20 years, and when you are not active, you simply are not active. The Postal Service has no information. Well one would think I would not have to write about this if the guidance were there when these grieving family members call. As it relates to our “pension” we are paid by OPM (Office of Personnel Management), 2 offices, one located in Boyer PA and the other in Washington DC. Of course if you are eligible, your Social Security comes from Social Security. The TSP is a personal choice after retirement.

Information below will address how to avoid this.

I have had strings of emails on ONE “same issue”. When you are between “paying agencies” (Postal Service & OPM). IT is that FEAR of when you retire and not knowing WHEN you are going to be paid from retirement. AND I hear all the time….the “not knowing”…the not knowing comes from you not opening your mail. All your mail, even the mail that sits next to the Arby’s add….LOOK AT IT, it may not be about some random insurance company ….it may be from OPM.

When employees retires, after OPM has completed the entire process, you are sent a booklet, more like a pamphlet. It is blue and white and the front cover says “YOUR RETIREMENT BENEFITS” Its very thin and it comes in half-envelope (“hr postal term”), with your name in a “cut-out” window. This booklet goes UNNOTICED…many times doesn’t even get opened (BECAUSE SO MANY OF YOU DON’T OPEN YOUR MAIL…(city carriers especially take note!!)…. Very much like postal mail your have had your entire career….the infamous…SF Form 50, and you will receive that form when you retire. In fact you receive them a lot of Form 50’s during during your career, SF Form, or another way to say it is “Notification of Personnel Action”…if you look on it….it is an SF Form 50.
And for many of you that term is foreign, and it should not be (ok I’m done with that..you get it open your mail).

But In all fairness, this booklet and envelope really don’t have the appearance of IMPORTANCE that it represents to you as the retiree, it is very plain. And so VERY many times it looks like jun….ah…3rd class mail.

This is your “guide book”, if you will, about PRECISELY what happened on the day of your retirement. It lists your CSA number (your identification number as a federal retiree), your bank account information (that you listed on your retirement paperwork), your gross monthly pay and includes all the deductions, so you see the NET as well. It spells out the what life insurance(s) you carried into retirement. If you selected a spousal annuity, the spouses name is in the book, and the amount of the spousal payment. It lists information about the life insurance as well. EXPECT it or LOOK FOR IT…it is important that you have it. Inside of the booklet have phone numbers to OPM, TSP, Social Security, Medicare and some other federal agencies. That is why this book is crucial to you and your family members. SO the first job as a retiree….is to open all your mail. If you didn’t do it when you were an employee, YOU GOT to open your mail from this point on. Sometimes a “lack of response”, can mean an “endorsement”.

Q 1. Good morning Roseanne, I am planning to retire at the end of April on the FERS system and have always been told that I will only get credit for full months of my sick leave. I have started my retirement and in reading the book it says I will be 100% reimbursed for my sick leave. I am now wondering if that includes the days too. My Annuity statement shows 10 months & 15 days accrual which makes me think I don’t need to burn these days prior to leaving. I was hoping you could give me clarification on that. Thank you for your insight on this issue. LP

A 1. Hi LP You will be paid for FULL YEARS AND the 10 months….but not the 15 days. Roseanne

Q 2.Good afternoon Roseanne, I hope all is well with you. I retired on Dec 31 2016. On my last pay stub it shows an annual leave balance of 35.45 hours. I was not paid for this although I was paid for the New Years holiday. Can this be corrected? If so, who would I need to contact? Thanks so much. RW

A 2.You probably were paid. Go back to your employing office…tell them to look in the payroll envelope where the pay checks are……your final check should be there. Roseanne

Q A 2. Thanks so much for your prompt response. Unfortunately that was my final check. It wasn’t sent to my last employing office even though that is the address I filled out in my retirement paperwork. It went to the processing and distribution center for my city. It took me several days to locate who had it only to be told it was mailed to me. I received it the next day. I included a picture of the stub from my final check. My last work week (week 1 of the pay period) was from 12-24 through 12-30. I was paid for 8 hours of sick leave, the Christmas holiday and the 3 days I actually worked for a total of 40 hours. My last day was 12-31, I took annual leave and then it looks like I was paid for the New Years holiday. The rest (24 hours) was charged to LWOP. As you can see, there is a balance of 35.45 remaining under annual leave. Since tracking down my final check was a wild goose chase I am almost afraid to seek payment for the annual leave for fear that things will really be messed up. I never heard of any retirees not getting paid for their annual leave before. RW

R A 2. I can’t agree….. that THE check does NOT say TERMINAL LEAVE…That is what the last check say’s that it’s….TERMINAL LEAVE on the bottom…keep researching. Roseanne

Final 2. Thank you so much Roseanne! I got in touch with a former supervisor and she looked into it for me. I was still listed as active until January 12 even though I retired December 31. I will receive a check for my annual leave balance this coming pay period. I am so relieved! I have read your responses to questions for several years in preparation for retirement. They have been so helpful to so many of us! Again, thank you so much for your time. Best wishes-RW

Q 3. Hi Roseanne, I started in the PO June 1995. I want to retire at 65 which will be Sept 2019. My question: Is there an advantage of retiring at my birthday, going to Oct, or finishing out the year? (I do very well in Dec.) Are there better times of the year to retire? The end of the year opposed the beginning of the next year? And finally, if I retire after the second paycheck when I receive my AL upfront, will I get to keep it and paid to me in cash. Thanks for your help. RH

A 3. Hi Howard, My preference has always been the end of November. You miss the Christmas crazy…can use no doubt a few days of annual leave and not come back after the Wednesday before Thanksgiving…its really all about planning. But for almost any craft or even management position, that sounds like a good plan, unless craft. And you are an overtime junkie (knowing Christmas is that gold brick of OT)…

As for your final question…your EARNED annual leave is paid to you…in check form and it plainly states on it ….terminal leave. It is all or any unpaid work hours (generally not…but sometimes may be)..and all the leave that you have earned…of course minus what you have used. And it is taxed heavily…no matter what month you retire. I hope this has helped you out with some of your questions. Roseanne

Q 4. Hi Roseanne, I have been wondering: I have over 30 years service~ RCD and ACD Nov 1986, however I am 53 years old so I don’t meet the MRA. I don’t want to work but I still don’t want to lose what I have already worked for. I have medical benefits with my spouse. Can I apply for a deferred retirement to 2019, when I reach my MRA? if so what happens to my TSP? Can I start receiving that early or cash out? Thanks for any info you can give me. EA

A 4. EA Yes you can defer your retirement, however that begins at age 62, and additionally you are not eligible for health benefits or life insurance. So NO you cannot retire under Deferred Retirement when you reach your MRA, you must wait until age 62. Roseanne

4. So the defferred retirement age is 62? But If I stay working my MRA is 56 and I would get my annuity and SS supplement? Is that what you are saying? Thanks, Anita
R 4. That is exactly what I am saying. Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, I am a 57 year old clerk with over 32 years postal & 3 years military service. I want to retire in the very near future, but I don’t know what my special supplement amount will be. I have my postal retirement estimate, but it doesn’t tell me what my supplement amount will be until I am age 62. Why isn’t this amount on the estimate? How does USPS expect employees to make a life changing decision without all the facts?What is the formula for supplement? My average high 3 is $58K. Also, once supplement ends at 62, do I have to receive social security then, or can I wait to apply if I don’t need the money? Will waiting increase my monthly social security amount/. Thank you for all you do. LR

A 5. Hi LR, The Special Supplement is NOT paid to every FERS retiree, you must fit a certain criteria in order to be eligible. So that is why there is not much on the subject….(don’t shoot the messenger). You can safely calculate your Spec Supplement (again if eligible) by taking the years of service and times that by $33.00…so in your case you can safely say that its going to be $1056…(but no doubt a bit more, its a formula used to calculate the Spec Supplement. That supplement lasts until age 61 and 11 months. Your choice if you take SS at 62 versus another age. I don’t recommend delaying the Social Security, but it’s your choice. Roseanne

Q 6. HI Roseanne, Reading how you had issues with the ARC program, I am hoping you have none with retired military. I retired in 2005 with over 22 years in the military and was hired by USPS the same year. Having so much time in it would not have been beneficial to buy back any time, so I didn’t. I will be 55 on 5/2020 and want to take the MRA and run (38 years is enough work for anybody). I do not plan to apply for Social security until I am 62…So where does this place me? Would I be eligible for a supplement without applying for Social security? (Yes I am green). What would my retirement look like. I spent 5 years in a level 21 Postmaster Position, I have heard that this would allow me to retire at the higher grade, is this true?

A 6. This has like what…..12 questions….in one!!! If you were hired in 2005, and you are a FERS employee…nothing changes the rules… you need to be age 60 with 20 years for full retirement, or age 62 with 5 years for full retirement. There is the no logic to your reference of age 55 (being born in 1965 & not a CSRS employee)…and I am not familiar with the ARC program, unless its an acronym for something I am unaware of (so not understanding the reference of I had issues with ARC). Applying for Social Security at age 62 makes TOTAL sense as SS is a component of the three part FERS retirement. WHAT would your retirement look like, what a “blanket question”…I am not a mind reader…you could not possibly think from 7 lines on an email that anyone could give you that answer. If you worked higher level, higher than the level you are retiring from, Eagan, MN will send your payroll records to OPM for final calculation, as they do with all retiring employees. As far as what you heard about retiring at a higher level because you worked for 5 years “AGO” as a Postmaster..and HEARD(!!) you could retire at a higher level….I have many words and feelings and all kinds of answers that I cannot write on paper…so a simple no, just operate on logic…does that even sound logical…“NO that is not true”.

Till we speak again….. Roseanne

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