Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

WEP effect

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Q. I served 5 years, 8 months, in the military, then 30 years in the Post Office. I had roughly 6 months of sick leave to use, so 37 years total. Military time was repaid prior to VERA in June 2011. My Social Security statement is 38 credits as of 2012. My VERA incentive was calculated under Social Security. If I become employed before I’m 62, how will my annuity be affected and how much will my Social Security benefits be? Is there a calculator to determine this amount using specific amounts?

A. Because you’ll have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, your Social Security benefit would be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP would reduce – but not eliminate – that benefit. To learn more about the WEP and how it would affect you, go to http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf.

 

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USPS pension

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Q. I worked for the USPS 1987-1996. Is there a pension for me that I’m not aware of that will be available me at retirement age? I cashed out my savings plan that I was contributing to when I was working, but I am referring to a pension that I may have become vested in. This would be great news, but where do I find out? Read the rest of this entry »

Social security and civil service pensions

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Q. I have worked for the postal service since 1982, so I will not get social security because I do not have any credits. I was told though that if my husband passes away, I cannot receive any of his social security benefits because I have a civil service pension. Is this correct? Read the rest of this entry »

Buying back LWOP

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Q. I am a CSRS-offset employee planning to retire at the end of the year and trying to get all my ducks in a row.

While working for the Postal Service as an Army Reservist, I was on leave without pay for two months and six days in 1984, and four months and 19 days in 1994. I thought I would have to pay this time back in order to receive retirement credit. However, in the 2014 CSRS Retirement Planning Guide published by FEDweek, on page 40, I read, “A total of six months of LWOP (including furlough days) in any calendar year is considered to be creditable service. In other words, for calculating your length of service, it’s treated as if you had never been on leave. Further, you don’t have to make a deposit to get credit for that time.”

Does this mean I will be credited my time on LWOP for service and retirement? Read the rest of this entry »

State taxes

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Q. I am going to be a retired CSRS employee. The Postal Service does not take state taxes out of the CSRS retirement check. How do I go about paying my state taxes?

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Disability retirement

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Q. I have 25 years of service with the Postal Service. I am extremely ill and have been told by my doctor that I would need to consider disability retirement. My base pay is $57,000 per year. Could you please tell me what my disability retirement will be?

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Survivor annuity

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Q. My husband passed away in 2004. He was retired when we married, and I am wondering if I am able to receive any benefits from his pension. We were married for 25 years. He was a postmaster and worked for the Postal Service for 30 years.

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Reserve + Postal Service retirement?

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Q. I’m 61 (born in 1952) and am retiring this year at age 62. Beginning in 1970, I served three years of active duty in the Navy, 10 years in the Reserve, 16 years of active-duty reserves. I retired to the fleet reserve in 1999, which delayed my retirement pay to age 60 (2012). I joined the Postal Service in 2001. At that time, I entered FERS and did military buyback. With my Navy and postal time, postal computation shows I have 30 years this year and am eligible to retire from the Postal Service. Will I be able to receive both Naval Reserve retirement and Postal Service retirement, or am I only eligible to collect Postal Service retirement?

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Military buyback

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Q. I am a 52-year-old veteran who works as a civilian for the Postal Service. I began my military career with 10 years of active-duty Army service and then honorably separated and went to work for the Postal Service. I bought back those 10 years at that time and joined the Army Reserve. I served eight years with the Postal Service full time and USAR duty as required. In 2002, my Reserve unit was called up in support of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I remained an active-duty reservist until February 2012, when I qualified for lock-in. As required, the Postal Service held my job for me. Upon my return to the post office, I inquired about the process to make up the contributions to retirement and Thrift Savings Plan as outlined in the FERS guide and was told I could not because I was receiving reserved retirement pay, and that the time that I spent activated with the Reserve would not count toward postal retirement. Furthermore, the USPS wants to refund the money that I already paid to buy back my active duty service and not credit that time toward my USPS retirement. Is this correct? It does not appear to be under the following:

10 USC § 12741 – Retirement for service in an active status performed in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve after eligibility for regular retirement

10 USC § 12736 – Service credited for retired pay benefits not excluded for other benefits.

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Annuity eligibility

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Q. I worked for the Postal Service from 1988 to 1999 and took my retirement money with me. Someone told me that they only gave me what I put in and I am entitled to the money they matched. Is that true? Am I entitled to any pension from the post office when I am old enough to retire for good?

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Windfall elimination provision

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Q. If I continue to work at a Social Security-covered job past the age of 62, will the windfall elimination provision deduction be reduced?

I retired from the Postal Service as a CSRS employee in 2004. Prior to my Postal Service time, I had 12 years of substantial earnings in the private sector. Since my retirement in 2004, I have worked for 10 years in a job that pays Social Security deductions. So, as of now, at the age of 62, I have 22 years of substantial earnings.

I have contacted the Social Security Administration and been told to use the WEP detailed calculator to determine what my benefit would be if I made a Social Security claim. However, that did not answer my question. I realize that the longer I work, the greater the Social Security benefit will be. But, as I work longer, will the WEP deduction be reduced, too? Or is it permanently set at age 62?

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VERA

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Q. I have worked for the Postal Service since 1985. I did not reach career status until January 1994, when I became postmaster in my Level 11 office, so the 8½ years prior do not count, unfortunately. I have worked here my entire career. In September, it will be reduced to a Level 2 and I will not be allowed to stay. I would like to take the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority being offered. Will I be penalized the customary 5 percent per year under 30 years? I am 55 and, as of Jan. 22, have 20 years of career service (this excludes my work prior to 1994). Also, will I be able to take advantage of the special retirement supplement?

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Re-employment after retirement

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Q. I am collecting my CSRS pension, having retired from the Postal Service in February 2011 after a combined 37+ years of service — nine years and seven months with the Air Force, and 30 years and two months with the Postal Service. I’ve worked for a private corporation for about a year and had no problem with working and collecting a pension.

But now I have an opportunity to get a job with the U.S. Census Bureau. Since it is a government agency, I figured there may be some conflicts regarding collecting a salary and a pension at the same time. But each person I’ve asked regarding a potential conflict, I’ve received a different answer, which is to say, nobody really knows the answer but everyone has an opinion.

Is there clarification that you can give to me regarding the possible conflict I may have? It may not be worth my while to take a position with the Census Bureau if my financial losses outweigh my financial gains.

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Military buyback and SRS

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Q. I am 52 and I want to retire when I reach 57. I started my career with the Postal Service in 1993, which gives me 20 years. I am in the Air Force Reserve with 30 years (four years and six months active) and I also have nine months of deployment on active duty. Will I be able to buy back the full five years and three months so I can meet the 30-year requirement at age 57? How is the special retirement supplement calculated under age 62?

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59 1/2 or 62?

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Q. I was employed by the Postal Service from 1987 to about 2000, out of 50 Brewery St., New Haven, CT 06511. I was informed that because of the length of time I was employed that I was eligible for a retirement benefit upon reaching the age of 59½. My 59th birthday occurred Aug. 3 (birth year 1954). I don’t remember my employee ID number, so how will I find the information I would need to apply for these benefits?

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SRS eligibility

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Q. I am 55-year-old postal employee with 27 years of postal service. I have read that a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority will be offered to eligible employees. Would I be eligible for the special retirement supplement? I also have an Equal Employment Opportunity case that has not been adjudicated, how would this affect my case? Would it still go forward?

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Deferred annuity and SRS

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Q. I left the Postal Service (CSRS) in 2000 with 21 years and seven months of service. I will be 56 years old next month. At what age can I draw supplemental annuity? What are the penalties for withdrawing sooner?

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Re-employment

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Q. I retired from the Postal Service approximately eight years ago after 11 years of service to pursue other aspirations. I am curious about the chance and opportunity to be reinstated. I am nearing age 40 and would like to get back into a solid foundation.

I worked as a distribution clerk and a window clerk, but would really like to move into a position, if allowed, that deals with the mechanics of the machines and computers since I was doing that work there, as well. Who would I be able to contact for information regarding my query?

Is there any other information that you could provide me with? If so, what would it be?

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Medicare Part B

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Q. I am 61 years old, a retired postal worker. My husband is turning 65 in July. I carry our medical insurance, Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Should my husband sign up for Medicare Part B, or is he required to do so?

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Workers’ compensation and annuity

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Q. I was a postal worker for 12 years when I was injured on the job in 2001 and am now collecting workers’ compensation. Would I receive any retirement benefits at age 65?

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