Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Early postal retirement and supplemental income

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Q. I took early retirement from the post office Feb. 28, 2009, with 26 years of service at age 48. Will I be eligible for supplemental income at age 56?

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Former federal employee and total service computation

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Q. I worked for the U.S. Postal Service under CSRS for 17 years and resigned in 1988 to work in private industry. I left my contributions in the retirement fund. Several years later, I went to work for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a FERS employee. Can my time with USPS be used toward my retirement with the Department of Veterans Affairs?

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Appropriate retirement system for mail carrier

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Q. I am a carrier for the post office. I was hired as a career employee in 1998. I have been under FERS from the start.

However, I also worked as a career employee for the post office between November 1978 and March 1984 under CSRS. I recently filled out Form 3108 to try and buy back those 5½ years toward my retirement. After such a long break in service, will I still remain under FERS, or will I be classified as a CSRS offset?

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Early retirement’s effects on pension

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Q. I am a 55-year-old city mail carrier with 18-plus years of service. How much of a reduction from my full retirement funds would result if I retired at 57 with 20 years of service?

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Special retirement supplement extension

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Q. I retired from the Postal Service on July 1, 2011, under FERS and am receiving a FERS annuity supplement of $746 per month. I also was awarded Social Security disability in April 2011, with payments starting in November 2011. Can I still receive an annuity supplement when I am 62?

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Leave, USPS and retirement benefits

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Q. A Postal Service employee had to use all his sick and annual leave because of illness. He used leave without pay. When he retired, he was not entitled to benefits. He received only his contributions. Why did he get back only his funds and not the complete package because of LWOP? Read the rest of this entry »

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Personnel records

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Q. I worked as an on-call substitute clerk carrier at the Kenilworth substation at 6270 Kenilworth Ave., Riverdale, MD 20737 from June 1965 to April 1967. How can I document for my retirement?

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Creditable service

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Q. I am 43 years old with 20 years of federal service: nine years as Border Patrol agent and 11 as an 1811 (Postal Inspector). Will my Border Patrol time count as out at any age with 25 years?

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Survivor annuity

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Q. My father who lives in Puerto Rico, is retired from the Postal Service, and is 64 years old. He told me that if he passes, I’m listed to get his pension which would be $1,200 a month, what he gets now. He is not married, and I’m curious if it’s that simple. Am I eligible? Will I get that much? For how long? I am 34.

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Deferred annuity

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Q. I am a Postal Service employee under FERS, I am over 55 years old and have about 26½ years of service. If I left USPS to work somewhere else in the private sector, would I be able to collect my annuity payments from USPS every month, or would I have to wait until I retire completely to start collecting?

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Disability compensation and annuity

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Q. I’m a 100 percent disabled veteran, effective April 2008, with war-incurred injuries.

In 2010, I applied for disability retirement while working for the Postal Service with 14 years of service and did not buy back my military time.

The Office of Personnel Management calculated my high-3 on my postal salary alone. Should they not have calculated my Veterans Affairs Department compensation income from 2008, since it was a war-incurred injury that led me to retire? Is there a statue that protects vets who have war-incurred injuries? And does OPM allow special compensation for this matter?

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Catch-62

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Q. I was told I am included in the catch 62 provision. I served four years in the Air Force from 1974 to 1978 and began Postal Service employment in 1979 (to present). I’d like to retire this year. I also have 2,282 hours of sick leave, and my service computation begins in 1975.

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Age limit for life insurance?

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Q. When I retire from the Postal Service (under FERS), can I continue paying for life insurance for my husband and me when we are over the age of 80 or 90? Or does the Office of Personnel Management not allow me to continue paying for life insurance when I reach a certain age?

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Reduced hours and high-3

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Q. I am a full-time Postal Service employee covered under CSRS. I have more than 30 years of service (active Postal Service + military buyback). I am still too young to retire, and will probably work another seven to 10 years. Recently, I changed to a nontraditional full-time position (NTFT) of 35 hours per week. Can you tell me how this reduction in weekly hours will effect the calculation of my high-3 in regards to my retirement? How far out from my retirement date would I need to change back to a full-time (40 hours per week) position to regain any benefit lost by the reduced hourly position?

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Re-employed annuitant

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Q. I am 55 years old and took an early retirement offer with an incentive from the Postal Service in August of last year. I had 26 years of full service. I am considering an opportunity to become re-employed part time with the U.S. Forest Service as a GS4 information receptionist at the local visitor center. This is a seasonal position lasting six months a year. How will this affect my Thrift Savings Plan withdrawals and my special retirement supplement when I turn 56? I retired as an EAS-18 postmaster.

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Buyout eligibility

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Q. I’m retiring at the end of this month. If there were to be an announcement of a buyout before 5 p.m. of my last day, would I qualify? I’m 62 with 29 years in the Postal Service.

A. Highly unlikely because the purpose of a buyout is to encourage employees to leave who wouldn’t do so without a financial incentive. Since you have already made the decision to retire and are on the verge of departing, your agency would have no reason to either offer or approve a buyout for you.

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12 questions on VERA

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Q. I am a letter carrier, age 52, started in 1985 and have 28 years of creditable service.

If I understand what I’ve gleaned from the posts here and the Postal Service were to offer me a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority this year,

1.  Would I begin my annuity immediately?

2.  Would I have no reductions in calculations of my annuity? (average high-3 x 1 percent x 28)

3.  Would I receive credit for half of my sick leave and all of my annual leave? (How are these applied?)

4.  Would I receive the special retirement supplement beginning at age 56 (my minimum retirement age), and receive it until I reach age 62?

5. Would I be able to continue carrying my current health and life insurance at non-USPS rates? (I couldn’t find how long these could be carried. Until death?)

6.  Could I begin receiving Social Security as early as age 62?

7. Any withdrawal from my Thrift Savings Plan prior to age 59½ would be penalized 10 percent as per Internal Revenue Service regulations? (Can I continue to contribute to TSP after retirement?)

8. As a FERS annuitant, is there no limit to what I can earn after separation from the Postal Service as it pertains to my annuity payment?

9. At age 56 (my MRA), the special retirement supplement from Social Security would begin and would be subject to yearly income limits. Would supplement payments be reduced by approximately $1 for every $2 I earned above that year’s Social Security income limit?

10. At age 65, I’d be eligible for Medicare parts A and B? (Would this affect my health insurance coverage through Federal Employees Health Benefits?)

11.  Would there be cost-of-living increases at any point for my annuity?

12.  Is there a date during the year that maximizes the benefits of retirement?

Did I get this right, and are there any other things I should know before considering a VERA if it is offered?

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Social Security disability and special retirement supplement

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Q. I took the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority on July 31. I am receiving the special retirement supplement. I have since applied for Social Security disability. If I am approved for SSDI, will I lose the supplement even though I did not file for Postal Service disability? And will I have to pay back the supplement for the months I receive back pay from Social Security? And will I need to notify the Office of Personnel Management that I am receiving Social Security disability?

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CSRS Offset

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Q. I’m looking to retire sometime this year. I turn 66 on April 2, have 13 years at the Veterans Affairs Department, from which I withdrew funds. I worked in the private sector until 1995, when I started working for the Postal Service. I am under CSRS Offset, and I have essentially bought back my four years in the military. So the total years at the Postal Service would be 18 years + 4 years military = 22 years. Can you explain to me how the offset will apply to me? Will I be able to receive Social Security?

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Federal retirement or Social Security eligibility

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Q. I worked for the Postal Service from March 1986 until August 1999.

Will I be eligible for Social Security or a pension for that time? Will I need to contact human resources in the state in which I resigned?

A. If you left your FERS contributions in the retirement fund when you left, you’d be eligible for an annuity at age 62. If you took a refund, you wouldn’t. Because you’ve earned at least 40 credits under Social Security, you’ll be eligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62.

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