Contributors

Postal Retirement Q&A May 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!!!

This column is almost solely dedicated to the Special Supplement –

Q 1.Dear Roseanne, Thanks for the advice you give to Postal employees about retirement, it is very helpful. Here is my question. I took an early FERS retirement in Oct 2014 it was a RIF I was 53 1/2 at the time with 24 years. I am turning 56 April 27th 2017. So now I will be finally getting my Supplement. What month should it begin May or June? (It’s been a long 2 1/2 years wait). Sincerely SB (Former PM)

PS You are right retirement is SWEET! Don’t miss any of the BS at all.

A 1. The answer depends on which month you become eligible for the special supplement. In your case you become eligible on your birthday, April 26. Therefore your eligibility begins in May. Keep in mind just like any other check payment or otherwise, you are paid a month in arrears…. so look for your check in June. Since your birthday is the 26th, I would suspect your check should arrive the fourth Monday or Tuesday of the month. In (your) case look for the check around June 23-27. Keep in mind, that this check will be paid to you just like it would be if it were a Social Security check. Special supplement checks fall under the same timeframe that your Social Security check will follow. I hope this information has helped you. Roseanne

R 1. Thanks Roseanne I’m glad I asked you, because I would have been looking for it the beginning of the month not the end.

Q 2. Hello Roseanne! I read your information all the time. You are great for helping answer everyone’s questions! Thank you ! I don’t retain a single thing I read past 5 minutes! LOL Sad but true! I have been battling some health issues since the late 1990’s and the medication, and my memory cannot seem to keep this information straight. I have well over 30 years with the USPS. I started in 82, and have remained a clerk throughout my entire career. I received my “NARCES” annuity estimate. My eligibility date is 3/6/2018. In looking at the figures how accurate are these figures? I feel like they are accurate but I have had several people tell me that when they retired they got more that what the paper said. I am a little puzzled. MY RCD is 9/13/1982. Thanks T
A 2. Hi T Are you FERS or CSRS…. or CSRS/offset? Because if you started in 1982 and have always been a clerk; had no break in service; and are over 55 you should have been retired. I too am puzzled. But I am going to assume that on 3/6/2018 you will be 55. If that is not correct….then yes there is something wrong. You don’t say if you have MASS hours of LWOP, that could affect credible service. Perhaps you were on OWCP…that could affect many things. And clearly, as I say many times, these questions are not “a one stop answer, OR one size does not fit ALL”. SO if your RCD is 9/13/1982….that is no doubt your seniority date and is your Retirement Computation Date…and that is right. Eligibility date has to be your birthday….and 3/6 has to be your birthday and in 2018 you will turn 55. AM I RIGHT?….BECAUSE IF AM….I JUST ANSWERED YOUR QUESTION. Roseanne

R 2. I am sorry. Yes I will be 55 on 3/6/18. I have the time but not the age. CSRS. Now that I am getting close this is really scary! It seems like I just started working yesterday! I thought that retirement was so far away and here is it! UGH! Is it really worth it to do the 41 yrs. 11 months? I really want to go when I can. I am tired! And I hurt! I have hung on for so long. But when I printed the Annuity Estimate I was like.. CAN I DO THIS ? I don’t plan on coming home and sitting. That would not be good for me. I just want to go do something else. If I go 4/1/18 it says 3,365 without survivor benefits. Then I ran it for a year later and it says 3,509. I just feel like its not worth it to stay for more money. I have 1700 SL hours and I have always carried over 440 AL. I have never been on OWCP nor have I had any LWOP. Thanks !! Your fast at answering ! S.
Final Response: S, Just a word of advice, when you turn 55 …..retire. I don’t care what that annuity estimate say’s ….you CAN afford to retire. Unless you are living on mass amounts of overtime!!

At the end of the day & considering the number of years that you have –it will give you just about the same income in retirement, as you do working. I do this too much to be wrong!! Roseanne

Q 3. Hello Roseanne!! I have a question or 2 concerning the social security supplement. 1). When do I apply; 2). Where do I apply? I am getting a lot of different answers. When I call Social Security, they have very little information on this subject and suggested I call my employing agency, and I did, several times. When I first called HRSSC , the person on the phone said to hold on and came back on the phone, and said …(and sounding very frustrated) ”I’m trying to look “between” screens for this information”…and then the phone hung up. I called back to the retirement section again, I got a different person, and that person told me they did not know much about “this” special supplement but did “hear” some talk about it. I asked if you are guiding us in retirement, and YOU don’t know, how are you supposed to guide us then…..she said “take it up with Headquarters”!!
Can you shed any light on this? Many of us are in the dark!! Please help us!!!

A 3. I’ll start with the last 3 words….WHAT DO YOU THINK I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO DO FOR THE LAST 7 YEARS ….BY WRITING THIS COLUMN…….helping you all!!

IF you read the rules regarding FERS retirement, I will say this again (FOR THE 80TH time) ….you are eligible for “THE” Special Supplement under very strict conditions.

Age MRA (every one does NOT have the same)….AND 30 or MORE credible years of service.

Age 60, AND 20 or MORE credible years of service.

I am baffled by the phone calls to the Social Security office and THEIR lame duck answers you get……(based solely on my conversations with YOU after you speak with SS)..why…I don’t know….because they have the same retirement plan(s) you do, CSRS or FERS…and what??? THEY too don’t know about THEIR retirement????

And I can’t do anything but apologize for the absolute lack of “BASE KNOWLEDGE” about retirement at HRSSC. I have seen them trying to step up their game recently, in the Blue Retirement booklets that have been sending to potential retirees. Although when you call, you really can’t find anyone that is not reading off a screen or two to give you an answer.

OK STOP READERS…- Lets break here for a second. I HAVE OVER 20 (RECENT) QUESTIONS…THAT DEAL WITH THIS SAME ISSUE….I CAN BORE YOU WITH ALL THE QUESTIONS (as an example: “Roseanne, why don’t I qualify for the Special Supplement when I am 62 – Roseanne Response: Because you ARE 62 and can collect Social Security”….OR JUST GIVE YOU THIS INFORMATION. AT THE END OF THE DAY….ALL OF THE QUESTIONS ARE ASKING THE SAME THING….WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY….AS IT RELATES TO THE SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT.

WHO: FERS Employees

WHAT: Money. This Spec Supp payment is the bridge of money that “replaces” one of the 3 tiers (FERS; Social Security; TSP) of your retirement until you reach age 62, your first opportunity to collect your Social Security.

(From) WHERE: OPM pays the Special Supplement – not the Social Security Administration.
WHEN (eligibility begins): ELIGIBILITY IS THE REAL ISSUE!!! (YOU MUST BE YOUR MRA with 30 or more credible years of service, or Age 60 with 20 or more credible years of service). This Special Supplement STOPS when you reach age 61 and 11 months…..PRECISELY!!

*** Very different answer for those who retired under “early out VERA”

AND THE BIG WHEN…-..when does this start? Before I address that…keep in mind that I find so many of you out there that are still TOTALLY clueless about this Special Supplement!

The WHEN is immaterial if you are NOT eligible!!

You must be eligible for this. So when you write me and tell me that you are 60 with 14 years of service, and you have a NARCES annuity estimate, and it says “Optional Retirement”…..YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THE SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT!! YES it says Optional….it is NEVER going to say MRA+10!!

That is not Full Retirement, that is the MRA+10 retirement, and you are NOT NOT ….SO NOT ever going to be eligible for this special supplement. If you are at your MRA and have 29 years and 11 months…YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THE SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT….because that TOO is not a regular retirement, that is an MRA+10 retirement as well. And with the MRA+10, you are NOT ever eligible for this Special Supplement….ever.

OK, so now to the when….If you retire with 30 years 2 months and are 58….we will use that as an example…why…because its MORE than 30 years, and at age 58, you have passed your MRA. The Special Supplement payments “mimic” the same timeline that Social Security uses for payments….and it is NOT the first of the month. (Question # 1…gives a good example of how and when SS pays, and the Special Supplement follows that same pay timeline.)

If you are eligible for the Special Supplement, it is not paid immediately. Your retirement has to be completed in order for OPM to even know if you are eligible for the Supplement, because the volume of FERS folks that don’t receive it, is clearly because you don’t understand the rules. Once OPM establishes that you are eligible for the Supplement, it will begin about 2-3 months after the initial interim check. When you receive information (OH YEA OPEN YOUR MAIL!!…or you will KNOW NOTHING!!) from OPM that your retirement is complete, you should receive a back pay lump sum for those 2-3 months and then the Special Supplement will be paid monthly to the same checking or savings account that you set up on your FERS retirement paperwork. And it is paid until age 61 and 11 months. YOU MUST apply for Social Security, it does not start immediately when the Special Supplement stops.

Q 4. Hi – Read your info frequently and must say you are VERY good – Finally have a question of my own – may not apply to many as I am an old CSRS’er in the last couple laps – Scenario is this – I may go over my max retirement (41 years 11 months) – I know that after that time retirement $ will be withheld and when I do retire I will be given proceeds – This is my question – I have a VC account (voluntary contributions) and I would like to get that $ into my VC –Can I do that? And how? I know that once I am retired I can no longer make contributions to the VC – so will it be possible as I won’t get the $ from my excess retirement until AFTER I retire? Hope I didn’t confuse you with a crazy question Many Thanks

A 4. Hi & Thanks!! No you didn’t confuse me…but I must say, it’s the first question I ever received like this. In reading some of the information I have on this, it does not appear that you can add to your VC account, from your CSRS (overpayment). From all that I read…this is a separate retirement account. When you retire, you can withdraw all voluntary contributions plus interest at any time before receiving additional annuity based upon those contributions. It also can be rolled over to an IRA….(AGE will play a factor in taxes). Also….really without knowing numbers or your age….keep this in mind…the Limitations….”Total voluntary contributions cannot exceed 10 percent of the total basic pay received during civilian Federal service”.

From everything I have researched and seen, plus, I don’t even see a form on OPM that would allow the action of taking your overpayment from the CSRS fund to your VC fund…so my conclusion is you cannot. Keep in mind….I am not just “guessing here”….I am reading and interpreting what is in the CSRS Voluntary Contribution Program information that I have. Roseanne

Q 5. Hi Roseanne, I was reading your retirement forums this weekend and had a question. I am 56 and currently have close to 28 credible years as a rural carrier. I have already sent in my form 3108 to buy back 3 years as an RCR-RCA from 1986 to 1989. I am not sure of the calculations or how it works exactly but if I am able to buy back that time and it does equal out to at least 2 years, will that be added to my time now will that make me have 30 credible? I noticed in one of your writings that someone bought back some military time but it wasn’t considered credible for the 30.
Also one other question, if I were to go out on OWCP for my elbow at this time, how would that affect my time towards retirement? Thanks for your time and advice S.O.

A 5. Hi SO, You misunderstood the reference to the years “not counting”….in the military statement. Those military years that are BOUGHT back DO COUNT for the FERS retirement calculation…..they DO NOT COUNT for the Special Supplement calculation. So to answer your question….bought back RCA time counts for BOTH FERS and Special Supplement. My advice -Don’t go out on OWCP; buy back your RCA time and then retire fully. Roseanne

Q 6. Hi Roseanne, Scenario: I will have 20 years career in USPS soon. 3 years are as a PTF and 17 years are as a FTE. Assuming 30 hours per week as a PTF, this would equate to 75% from a financial point of view. My question is: Are the 3 years worked as a PTF pro-rated from a service time as well which would equate to 2.25 years (.75 x 3 years) OR is it considered a full 3 years for pension? Bottom line: I am hopeful that I could begin a deferred pension at age 60 rather than 62. Thanks for all you do…JW

A 6. Hi JW, You are a career employee, so ALL the time you have spent in the Postal Service even as a PTF is credible for retirement. The only way to find out what your proration factor is for you to order and annuity estimate within three years of your eligibility to retire. With the 3 years of being a PTF in the beginning of your career, and IF the rest of your career is time full-time (a 40 week) – then there will not be a great impact on the proration factor, so I wouldn’t worry about that. And it would make sense for you to wait to age 62 to retire, because you get 1.1% versus the 1% at age 60, as it relates to the retirement calculations. And if you simply use a calculator and do your high 3 average salary by 1% and then by 1.1%….you will see I am right about staying for it. Roseanne

R 6. Roseanne, Thanks for the answer and at 4 something in the morning. I feel special 🙂

Final Response 6. Your welcome…..someone has to stay up and make sure you all understand how this retirement works….

Till we speak again……..Roseanne

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  • elderberry

    Creditable, not credible.

  • angela belgrave

    about how long does it take to actually receive the payment for unused annual leave after retirement

  • Joann Thomas

    the fers supplement comes in the same payment as the annuity it does not come separately. So you get your annuity and the fers supplement the first of the month.

  • Bill Clinton

    Your advise to retire at 55 is something everyone should listen to. I have seen too many co workers chase the 40 year mark only to lose a parent or start having health issues shortly after they leave. You can chose the day you retire….you can’t chose the day you die.