Why not become a member of the APWU Retirees and continue to enjoy the protection, support and other privileges you experience as an active worker. For just $2.00 a month join us for our local events. You might want to check out some of these helpful websites which deal with retirement planning. We hope this information will help you in making your decisions.
Frequently Asked Questions(CSRS and FERS): Includes a timeline and checklists for planning for retirement.
American Postal Workers Union (Benefits)
22 RETIREMENT TIPS
ANNUAL LEAVE: At the time you retire, the Postal Service will pay you for up to a maximum of up to 440 hours of earned annual leave. You will lose any amount over 55 days of annual leave (55 days x 8 hours daily= 440 hours maximum). It should be on your next scheduled USPS paycheck.
BENEFICIARIES: Check the information on beneficiaries you have previously chosen for your Government Life Insurance, Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), earned annual leave, and earned compensation. There is a separate form for each benefit. The order of beneficiaries is your designated beneficiaries or if the order is not designated, then the order is spouse, child/children in equal shares, parents, executor or estate administrator, brothers and sisters, or next of kin in that order.
COUNSELING SEMINARS: You need to attend a pre-retirement counseling seminar, if one is available at your USPS agency, at least five (5) or more years before your retirement. Many postal agencies only offer one pre-retirement individual counseling session within in a three (3) year period after you become eligible for retirement due to age and years of service. It’s a crying shame, but that’s the way things happen. Better yet, you should attend a National APWU Retirees Department Retirement class hosted by the APWU Region, State and/or Area Local/Local or enroll in a three (3) day National APWU Retirees Department Counseling Seminar which is being scheduled in each region. This way you may become an APWU Retirement Counselor in your APWU Area Local/Local, State or Region.
DATE OF RETIREMENT (CSRS): For voluntary retirements, CSRS annuities should begin on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd day of the month. If you retire on one of the first three days of the month, your first OPM annuity check is payable the first day of the following month. If you retire on any other day of the month, your first OPM annuity check is payable the first day of the second month which follows. If you retire the 4th day through the last day of any month, for example, August 4th through August 31, then your first OPM annuity check is payable October 1st. Waiting one extra day will cost you one additional month of OPM annuity pay!
DATE OF RETIREMENT (FERS): In the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), voluntary retirements begin only on the first day of a month. FERS employees should retire on the last three (3) days of the month, if possible. For example, if you retire on August 31 under FERS, your first OPM annuity check is payable October 1st. Under FERS, retiring on other days earlier in the month will cost you extra days of additional OPM annuity pay.
GOVERNMENT PENSION OFFSET (GPO): You may also be entitled to benefits based on the Social Security covered earnings of your spouse or former spouse. However, this benefit may be affected by the Government Pension Offset (GPO), another provision of the Social Security law. For more information, see Congress & Legislative link and scroll down to the Legislative Fact Sheet on Government Pension Offset (GPO). We urge you to contact your Congress and ask them to Co-sponsor and support the legislative bills already introduced in the 108th Congress to repeal this unfair law.
HEALTH INSURANCE: You must be enrolled in your Federal Employees Health Insurance Benefits (FEHB) Plan program for a five (5) year period prior to your date of retirement to continue your health insurance coverage as a retiree. After you retire, you pay approximately thirty (30) percent of your health insurance premium and USPS pays about seventy (70) percent. This is a big change in the formula you enjoyed before you retired when USPS paid approximately eighty-three (83) percent and you paid about seventeen (17) percent due to the USPS/APWU collective bargaining agreement. Welcome to the real world!
HIGH THREE AVERAGE EARNINGS PAY: Your high three average earnings pay is figured on thirty-six (36) months of continuous base pay only. It does not include overtime, night differential, Sunday pay, or lump sum payments.
INCOME PROJECTION: If you will have any housing cost (mortgage or rent) or other significant loans/credit card debts after retiring, you will need approximately eighty (80) percent of your current USPS salary to retire comfortably. If you have no rent/mortgage or other substantial loans/credit card debts after retiring, sixty (60) percent of your salary will probably suffice.
INTERIM PAYMENTS: Generally, as soon as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) gets all your retirement records from USPS, OPM will provide interim payments averaging more than eighty-five (85) percent of your final retirement benefit. Usually, the next month’s check will be your regular annuity amount plus a make-up of the remaining amount due from your first payment. The third OPM annuity check you receive, if not sooner, should be your regular monthly annuity amount. OPM will withhold deductions for federal income taxes, health and life insurance coverage, and your $2.00 monthly APWU retiree union dues, provided you have completed the APWU Retired member Form 1187 and mailed it back to the National APWU Retirees Dept.
LIFE INSURANCE: To keep your Federal Employees Government Life Insurance (FEGLI) group policy coverage, you must have been enrolled in the program for the five (5) years of service immediately preceding your retirement date or for all service since your first opportunity to enroll in the program.
OFFICIAL PERSONNEL FOLDER (OPF): Get a copy of your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) from USPS Personnel or Human Resources office at once, including all military records. Your retirement is based on the Form 50’s in your folder. Check your Personnel folder and files each and every year of your employment. Your retirement is determined by the highest three years of your consecutive yearly base pay. There is approximately a twenty (20) percent error in USPS record keeping. Your expenses of copying the personnel records in your folder will save you beg bucks down the road!
SICK LEAVE (CSRS): In CSRS, for every 22 days of sick leave, you are credited for one month of service. 2080 hours of sick leave equals one year of credit for CSRS employees only. Accumulated sick leave can be used for additional monthly and years of service for retirement.
SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS: Telephone the Social Security Administration 1-800-772-1213 or go on line to their web site www.ssa.gov to ask for a “Request for Earnings and Benefit Statement” on you to get a record of your earnings under Social Security, and if you will be eligible, an estimate of the payment you may receive. Remember, the estimate you receive may not include reductions to your Social Security benefits due to the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). You should schedule an appointment with your local Social Security office to personally get an estimate of your benefits, including any reductions which may be caused by the GPO and/or WEP provisions.
SPOUSAL OPM BENEFITS: In compliance with the Spousal Equity Act of 1984, your spouse must agree and sign a notarized paper for you not to make your spouse a beneficiary of your OPM annuity. If the spouse chooses not to be a beneficiary and the annuitant dies, the spouse cannot get health insurance benefits coverage!
SURVIVOR’S BOOKLET: Every potential APWU retiree member should purchase the APWU Survivors Booklet costing only $3.00 from the National APWU. This treasure chest publication allows for personal information to be stored in one place for your use and your spouse/family. If you pass away, the information in this booklet is especially important to you, but also to your survivor or loved ones.
THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN (TSP): You are urged to contribute a maximum deduction to your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) to realize a higher income return on retirement. Retirement for FERS employees is like a three-legged stool, that is, FERS, Social Security, and TSP. You cannot usually afford to retire if you don’t build up your Thrift Savings Plan account to the maximum.
VERIFICATION OF RECORDS: All periods of civilian and military service should be verified in your Official Personnel Folder (OPF) files. You must take the initiative on your own to request copies of all your personnel records and keep these copies in a safe place where you know where they are located. Request copies each and every year to update your files for retirement some day! I bet you can’t wait to get started!
WINDFALL ELIMINATION PROVISION (WEP): Any Social Security Administration estimate of the payment you may receive is not adjusted for the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which is a provision of the Social Security law after 1984 that reduces the Social Security covered benefits of many former Federal and Postal employees. For more information, go to the Congress & Legislative link on this web site and scroll down to Priority Legislation and Legislative Fact Sheets to read about how the Windfall Elimination Provision may affect your retirement. We urge you to contact your Congress and ask for their Co-sponsorship and support for legislative bills already introduced in the 108th Congress calling for the repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). We think these bills have a good chance of getting out of Committees and going to the floor for serious debate and passage this time around the horn!
YEARS OF SERVICE OPM MAXIMUM PAY: If you have forty-one (41) years and eleven (11) months of combined service at the time you retire, you will be paid eighty (80) percent of your high three continuous years of service. For CSRS employees, sick leave can increase your OPM annuity over the 80 percent maximum. FERS employees do not get any credit for accumulated sick leave in figuring their retirement!