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Federal Disability Lawyer-

Robert R. McGill, Esquire. "Representing Postal and Federal Workers for FERS & CSRS Disability" (click link for more info)

More Retirement Links

NALC: Q & A on  Retirement



Retired Federal Employees Health Benefits


Life Insurance Plan (FEGLI)


Health Benefits 2006 Open Season


Voluntary Early Out Information-Memos, Legal Issues, Reshaping Workforce, Explanation of VER Timeline and more.....all in web format. 8/28

Disability Retirement Under the CSRS

Credit for Unused Sick Leave Under the CSRS

 Retirement Clock- Countdown to Retirement

Computing Retirement Benefits Under the CSRS

Information For Separating FERS Employees Who Are Not Eligible for an Immediate Annuity

Financial Assessment Tool:    A financial assessment tool to analyze your entire financial picture.

Windfall      Elimination    Provision-How It Affects Your Social Security Retirement Or Disability Benefits

Government Pension Offset

Military Veterans Catch-62

Retirement Clock- Countdown to Retirement

Publications, Manuals, Handbooks

Publication 164-Compensation, Relocation Benefits, and Reinstatement Policies for Career Employees
USPS Civil Service Retirement Guide -EL 502-99
ELM 17.1: Civil Service Retirement Program
ELM 17.1: Federal Employees Retirement System
Tax Guide to Retirement Benefits
Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Publications
Standard Form 2801 Application for Immediate Retirement (CSRS)
Standard Form 2808-Designation of Beneficiary

SF 3107 Application for Immediate Retirement (FERS)
SF 3112-2 Information About Disability Retirement (FERS)
OPM 1510 Certification of Agency Offer of Position (for Discontinued Service Retirement)
OPM 1515 Military Service Deposit Election
A complete list of forms in electronic format is available at
FEGLI Calculator
Click Here To Check The Accuracy Of Your Paycheck!
Social Security Benefit Calculators-these 3 calculators will show your estimated retirement benefits; estimate of disability & survivor benefit amounts on your record if you should become disabled or die today.

Retirement Information & Tools

Information based on REGULAR CSRS & FERS Retirement

Converting Unused Sick Leave Chart Planning for Retirement
I Just Retired. What Happens Now? Your Retirement Annuity & State Taxes
Applying for Retirement Calculate CSRS /FERS retirement
Social Security and Medicare 22 RETIREMENT TIPS
Retirement Eligibility: CSRS Federal Employees Retirement (FERS)
What impact will taking LWOP have on your retirement pension?
Where does a federal retiree go for help with retirement issues?
Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) & Federal Employees Retirement System
Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Corrections Act (FERCCA)
When is the Best Date to Retire Best Date to Retire,  Save Taxes
The Spouse Equity Act The Differences in Disability Retirement
Keeping Your FEHB in Retirement  Postal Retirees Forum

Retirement News

  Retirement Planning: The Check Isn't in the Mail

The wait for your first retirement check -- make that your first direct deposit -- can be a long one. (1/31/09)


Retirement Planning: Catch-62 Revisited - An update on a case study in the importance of military service credit deposits. (9/04/08)


Retirement Planning: The COLA Factor - Taking cost-of-living allowances into consideration when setting a date to retire. (8/28/08)


APWU to Meet With USPS Over Possible 'Early Out' Offer

The union has learned unofficially that the Postal Service has requested from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) the authority to offer early retirement to 40,000 postal employees. In response to an inquiry from my office, a meeting with Postal Service headquarters has been scheduled for Monday regarding these reports.


Early Out Info-PDF (source: NALC Branch #38) "This is an update of where we are with the upcoming implementation of the National VERS for craft and supervisory positions. We expect to have an OPM approval for the initial VER request for the clerks, mail handlers, SDO and SCS positions as early as next week. We do not expect to receive the second OPM approval for Maintenance, Motor Vehicle, Carriers and Rural Carriers crafts until the end of July." USPS VERA Info | OPM: VERA (7/03/08)

Lawmakers Question Duplicative Retiree Drug Coverage - The prescription drug benefits are provided to federal retirees through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, or FEHBP, and Medicare Part D. Congress directed Medicare to coordinate benefits with other prescription drug plans, but Medicare and FEHBP "have not acted to require or ensure effective coordination of the drug benefits," Waxman and Davis wrote.  (5/27/08)

The Cost and Benefits of the Reemployment of Federal Part-time Annuitants  (5/27/08)


Lump Sum Annual Leave Payments
It’s getting to be that time of year when employees are thinking hard about retiring. If you are one of them, one of the issues you are probably factoring into your decision is how much unused annual leave you’ll be paid for when you retire. Well, it all depends on who your employer is. (10/21/07)


Retirement Planning: Catch-62
If you want to be sure your retirement reflects your full career of service, you need to understand your benefits long before you actually retire. (10/21/07)


Retirement Planning: D-I-V-O-R-C-E - Federal employees who have gone through a divorce have an additional complication: their former spouse (and other family members) may be eligible for some of their retirement benefits. Courts can issue orders awarding benefits to legally separated spouses, former spouses, and children of current employees, former employees and retirees. Here are the benefits that can be awarded: (8/25/07)


Retirement Planning: Best Dates to Retire 2008 - Getting down to specifics on how to maximize your benefits if you're thinking about retiring next year. (8/25/07)


OPM modifies rules for figuring certain employees' retirement benefits - The Office of Personnel Management is changing the way it calculates service toward retirement for certain employees on workers’ compensation, agency officials announced last week. According to an OPM benefits administration letter, federal employees on workers’ compensation who hold a full-time appointment but are able to work only part-time now will be credited for full-time service. David Hatch vs OPM (7/09/07)


  Retirement Eligibility: Facts and Myths

Clearly, many employees have a very good idea of when they will be eligible to retire. Some even have retirement countdown clocks on their computers to remind them. But others aren't so sure. If you fall into the latter category, this column's for you (7/06/07)


  Basic Retirement Computations

You should request a retirement estimate from your human resources office at least a year before you plan to retire. This estimate will be prepared by a trained retirement specialist who works in your agency's human resources office. She or he will use sophisticated retirement software to provide you with an accurate estimate based on your personnel records and payroll information. The Office of Personnel Management will provide you with your actual retirement benefit after you retire, but you surely will want to have a reasonably accurate estimate before you depart so you can prepare confidently for your future financial security. If you understand the method used to compute your benefits, you should have more trust in the estimate you receive, and you'll be able to ask questions if you think there are errors in the computation. Retirement Planning: Estimating Your Benefits (5/04/07)


Part-Time Rules - The FERS, CSRS Calculation
How part-time employment is treated under the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System. (3/11/07)


Retirement Planning: Taking Your Lumps- Are you planning to retire in 2007? If so, it's likely that you've been thinking about how to make the most of the lump-sum payment you'll have coming for unused annual leave. Many employees save up every hour they can before retiring at the end of the year. But there are some misconceptions about how the lump-sum payment process works, so before you start counting on a big fat check, let's look at some facts you may not know.


Understanding the implications of the Government Pension Offset
If you receive a pension under the Civil Service Retirement System, based on income from which Social Security taxes were not withheld, the Social Security benefits that you may be entitled to receive from your spouse (or former spouse) may be reduced due to the effects of what's known as the Government Pension Offset. Let's take a look at how the GPO works and its implications for your retirement planning. (6/09/06)


Who's Your Beneficiary? One important tasks in retirement planning is thinking about how you want to designate who will get lump-sum benefits related to your federal service. Beneficiary forms are among the most litigated pieces of paperwork in the federal government. Designations of beneficiaries must be in writing, signed by the designator, witnessed and filed with the Office of Personnel Management, the Thrift Savings Plan or your agency, depending on the type of benefits. (5/11/06)


OPM Awards Retirement Systems Modernization Contract - "Defined Benefits Technology Solution (DBTS) contract, an electronic solution will give employees, retirees and authorized agency officials open and immediate online access to retirement-related records and benefits elections, including those which have been converted from paper files into electronic format.

For example, an active employee with a personal computer can peruse his or her personnel records online and notify the appropriate agency official of an error in a period of employment; or, a federal retiree might use the online access to make changes to their health or life insurance benefits. The system also can be accessed via Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR).

Another user-friendly function of the DBTS will let employees view their federal employment history and salary, and enter their Social Security or Thrift Savings Plan information to calculate real-time personal retirement benefits; the Technology Solution also would allow employees to "model" retirement benefits by projecting years of employment and future salary increases, greatly enhancing the ability to pro-actively manage finances and plan for retirement

The DBTS allows for continuous, real-time updating of an employee's retirement-relevant information, giving OPM an immediate and complete view of information needed to compute retirement benefits. With the total information package, OPM can quickly compute and authorize the full retirement benefit, instead of placing the newly retired employee into a temporary, partial-payment status.

Over the past few years, OPM's annual receipt of retirement applications has risen steadily. The increase in retirement claims is due largely to the first wave of baby-boom retirements, a phenomenon not expected to peak until 2010.

Included in the electronic data viewed and accessed by agencies and OPM upon an employee's retirement is information on employment service and salary, health and life insurance enrollment levels, accrued sick leave and designations of beneficiaries. This data will be received by the DBTS through recurring electronic updates from agency HR and payroll systems. Retirement-relevant data also will be converted from paper records into an electronic format for all active employees.

The 10-year performance based contract with Hewitt Associates is valued at approximately $290 million." source: OPM (5/04/06)

Premium Conversion - "Premiums you should know about. Right now most federal-postal workers get a big tax break on their share of their health premiums. It's called premium conversion and it saves the typical worker $250 to $500 a year in taxes. But, and most workers don't realize this, premium conversion goes away when they retire. President Clinton gave the PC break to workers but it will take an act of Congress to extend it to retirees. Legislation is pending to extend the perk to retirees. But some members, who supported it earlier haven't signed on this year. To find out who they are, here's a memo-to-members from the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees:"  (5/01/06)


Best of Both Worlds - CSRS Offset
CSRS Offset is a version of CSRS established for employees who have completed at least five years of civilian federal service creditable under CSRS, but who also have come under the Social Security system at some point. Individuals covered under CSRS Offset pay Social Security taxes and a reduced CSRS contribution. CSRS retirement and survivor benefits are offset by the value of the offset service in their Social Security benefits. (4/14/06)


Look for Options On Dental/Vision, Health coverage -

When the federal health-insurance open season rolls around in November, federal and postal employees, their survivors and, in some cases their ex-spouses will have a couple new choices.    Both of them are optional, and both of them take effect in January.  Dental/vision insurance: This has been at the top of the wish lists of many feds for many years, but health-insurance companies have not been allowed to improve either benefit because their added cost would have sent premiums through the roof.   The solution is that the government will pick one or more health plans that will offer an array of dental/vision benefits. The catch is that unlike the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), of which Uncle Sam pays about 72 percent of the total premium, the dental/vision plan’s premium will be completely the purchaser’s responsibility.  The Office of Personnel Management will select the plan and the premium in the coming months, and is expected to announce the decision by late August. (4/11/06)


Which federal retirement system is better? If you ask most employees, they seem to think the Civil Service Retirement System provides more generous benefits than its newer counterpart, the Federal Employees Retirement System. Even though most employees don't have any control over which system they're in, there are several reasons why this remains a subject of discussion:

Withdrawal Options
What should you do with the money in your TSP account when you retire

OPM director pushes part-time work in lieu of retirement
Federal employees should be able to work fewer hours in their later career, staving off full retirement, the Office of Personnel Management chief said Monday. As part of her agency's commitment to expanding part-time work arrangements, Springer cited a legislative proposal offered in the fiscal 2007 budget, which would remove a penalty to employees in the Civil Service Retirement System for working part-time

Proposal would remove penalties on annuities for Part-Time Positions  

The proposed Federal Retirement Improvement Act includes language to remove penalties on annuities when employees in the Civil Service Retirement System move to part-time positions at the end of their careers, Office of Personnel Management officials said.  (02/13/06)

See "A Risk in Going Part-Time"


Bush seeks upgrade of retirement benefits processing
President Bush proposed an additional $26.7 million this week to modernize the federal retirement system, with a goal of authorizing requests for new retirement benefits within five days and achieving at least 95 percent accuracy in payments. The money will be used to "greatly improve the speed and accuracy of federal retiree benefit payments," according to Bush's 2007 budget, unveiled Monday. Many federal retirees find it takes months until they receive an accurate annuity payment after they retire. A modernized system will allow the government to tabulate benefits for new retirees in five days or less, OPM said. The system also will improve accuracy of the claims from 90 percent to 93 percent in the older Civil Services Retirement System and from 95 percent to 97 percent in the Federal Employee Retirement System. 


APWU Vice President: Discontinued Service Retirement Is an Option for the Disrupted
In light of management’s determination to disrupt the lives of thousands of postal employees with its plans for “network consolidations,” it is time for workers to examine all the options, including one that is not well known: Discontinued Service Retirement.
see more from OPM (PDF) (01/06/06)

Terms of Disability Retirement
It’s a funny (not ha-ha) thing. The federal government doesn’t have a short-term disability program. It has untidily filled in the gap with sick leave and annual leave (both your own and donated). On the other hand, the government does have a first-rate program for those employees with a disabling mental or physical condition that makes it impossible for them to continue in their current job. If their condition is expected to last for at least one year, these employees can apply for disability retirement. Periodic medical evaluations will be required until age 60 unless the disability is determined to be permanent.


Wake-Up Call for CSRS Retirees
Tis the season to retire for many employees. If you are one of them and are covered by CSRS, you need a wake-up call. There are two provisions of law that can reduce your retirement income. While they won't affect your CSRS annuity, they may reduce – or even eliminate – certain Social Security benefits to which you may otherwise be entitled. The "bad news bears" are the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset.




Ask President Burrus
Question: Why are retirement annuities calculated using the “high-three” formula? Do you think the formula will ever be reduced to “high-two,” “high one,” or perhaps just the final year of employment? Question: Why does the pay-for-performance program apply only to EAS personnel? Shouldn’t the rank-and-file, many of whom make their supervisors look good, share in the wealth?


The FERS Special Retirement Supplement
The special annuity supplement is a benefit paid to certain FERS employees who retire before age 62 and are entitled to an immediate annuity. The SRS approximates the Social Security benefit earned while covered by FERS, and is designed to bridge the gap between retirement and age 62, when a retiree first becomes eligible for Social Security.

Some Retirees Are Overpaying For Health Care
Most retirees stay in the same health plan year-after-year. That's because they are confused by the choices they have or don't understand the process. People who do nothing during the open season, which is the majority federal retirees, are automatically continued in the same plan next year that they are in this year. That's okay in some cases, but with premiums jumping in some of the most popular-to-retiree plans, former feds need to shop around.


The Alternative Form of Annuity

Did you know that there's a thing called the Alternative Form of Annuity? The AFA once meant a great deal to those retirees who were able to take advantage of it before things took a turn for the worse. When the FERS law was passed, a provision was included that allowed retirees to elect to take their retirement contributions in a lump sum and have their annuities actuarially reduced. The refunded contributions would be tax free because they were made up of dollars that had already been taxed. The annuities would be 100 percent taxable. (11/20/05)

OPM moves to fix pension check problems
The Office of Personnel Management plans to award three technology contracts it says will speed up the processing of annuity checks for retiring federal employees. Employees today must wait up to six months or longer after retiring before they receive their full monthly annuity payments. This is because it takes that long for OPM to compile and review personnel records and calculate a retiree’s annuity. Until OPM determines the correct amount, it typically withholds between 15 percent and 35 percent of an employee’s projected monthly pension.

USPS Could Save $250 Million Under New Medicare Act - The U.S. Postal Service hopes to implement a Medicare-eligible retiree prescription drug subsidy established by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 that could save the agency $250 million each year. Richard J. Strasser Jr., chief financial officer and executive vice president of the USPS, announced the idea of using the subsidy at yesterday’s MTAC meeting. Under the act, employers -- including the federal government -- who offer qualified prescription drug coverage are eligible to receive the subsidy. The act takes effect Jan. 1. "We have 330,000 retirees eligible for this," Strasser said. "We, and you through your rates, are paying for this benefit for prescription drugs for our retirees, and there is a subsidy that enables us to return some of that." However, the Office of Personnel Management -- which oversees the Federal Employees Heath Benefit Program of which the USPS is a participant -- does not expect to apply for the subsidy for the program. "We are going to need the cooperation of [the OPM] since they administer this plan, in order for us to apply and get that quarter of a billion dollar rebate," Strasser said. (11/03/05)

Costly Confusion -In August 2003, Energy Department employee Mike Jacobs received some unwanted news. While attending a retirement seminar sponsored by his department, he learned that, due to a technical problem, he had been placed in the wrong retirement system. Jacobs isn't the only one. When the government switched from the Civil Service Retirement System to the Federal Employees Retirement System in 1987, thousands of employees were mistakenly and unknowingly placed into the new system without their consent. Employees in CSRS were supposed to have been given a choice between staying in the old system or moving to the new. The glitch mostly affected employees who had worked under the old system, left government and later returned to the public sector, and employees who had experienced changes in appointment types or who had worked in excepted service agencies and then moved to the standard personnel system. Upon their return to the standard personnel system, those employees also could have been eligible to be placed in a third system called CSRS Offset, which combines CSRS with some Social Security benefits. (10/28/05)

Retiring early may actually hurt health, Shell research finds - Early retirement doesn't help workers live longer, and it may even shorten one's life, according to a study published Friday by the British Medical Journal. The life expectancy of employees who retired at 55 was significantly reduced compared with those who retired at the age of 65, said Shan Tsai of Shell Health Services in Houston, who studied more than 3,500 former workers at Royal Dutch Shell Plc between January 1973 and December 2003. There is a widespread perception that early retirement, associated with a more relaxed lifestyle and less pressure, leads to a longer life expectancy. Tsai's findings question this theory. Some other researchers who have studied the issue have suggested that early retirement harms health because the workers are already ill before they retire or because of the change-of-life events. "Although some workers retired at 55 because of failing health, these results clearly show that early retirement is not associated with increased survival," Tsai said in the study. "On the contrary, mortality improved with increasing age at retirement for people from both high and low socioeconomic groups." (10/23/05)

Retirees to get 4.1 percent cost-of-living adjustment
Federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System will receive a 4.1 percent boost to their pensions in 2006, the largest hike in 14 years.


Retirement Considerations -Are you considering retirement? If so, please review and consider 10 of the most commonly made retirement mistakes: Retiring on the spur of the moment because of a difficult assignment or personality clash on the job. Many APWU members will recall how postal workers jumped at the offer of early retirement in 1992, only to realize later that it was not necessarily the wisest decision. (9/25/05)


GOP Group Calls for Cuts in Federal Retirees' Benefits to Fund Katrina Relief -A group of Republican House members called Wednesday for cuts to some federal retirees' benefits to help offset the cost of Hurricane Katrina recovery. The House Republican Study Committee released a package of recommendations known as "Operation Offset" Wednesday that called for calculating retirement annuities for federal employees based on an average of their five highest-earning years of service instead of three. Adding two years of lower pay would tend to decrease the average, and thus reduce retirees' defined benefits. see text of proposal [gif] (9/22/05)



Buying Back Military Time -Getting credit for active duty service in the military used to be a simple thing. It still is for anyone whose service was performed before January 1, 1957. If you are one of them, you’d get credit for that time in your annuity computation without paying a deposit. Everybody else with military service has to wrestle with the matter. This being the federal government, there are two sets of rules that govern whether you are required to make a deposit in order to get credit for your period(s) or military service. (8/31/05)


 Study fine print of optional dental/vision plans

Mike Causey - This time next year, feds hope to have something new to smile about. The Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the government's health and retirement programs, is expecting several companies to bid on providing optional dental/vision packages to federal and postal workers and retired civil servants (8/23/05)


Rumor: the Postal Service is looking to make some changes in the way it handles individual retirement counseling for employees. (8/22/05)


Lawmakers Push for Solution to Delays in Full Pension Payments - Some retirees have reported waiting several months for OPM to tally up the correct amount for their monthly checks and have questioned why. When an employee retires, OPM provides an interim payment designed to avoid overpaying a retiree until the final pension calculation. Most employees get an accurate pension payment within 75 to 90 days, but some wait for months if they have complicated work histories or worked at several agencies. Once OPM calculates the correct annuity, it sends a lump-sum payment to cover the months when the retiree got a "haircut," as the new OPM director, Linda M. Springer , put it at a July management conference in Washington.  (8/08/05)


Social Security quirk slams some retirees -Workers whose employers opted out of Social Security coverage are losing benefits they thought they had coming. (6/26/05)


Best Date to Retire in 2005-  Tammy Flanagan, Senior Benefits Director, NITP, Inc.-Choosing a good retirement date involves some homework that must begin long before you complete your CSRS or FERS retirement application. Consider attending a pre-retirement planning seminar to get assistance with the financial planning, tax issues, and planning for a life after retirement (include your spouse or significant other in this discussion if you have one)! If this is the year you have decided to begin your retirement from federal service, then this article is for you! If you like it simple and short, then here it is: The best date to retire in 2005 is Tuesday, January 3, 2006 for CSRS (and CSRS Offset) or Saturday, December 31, 2005 for FERS (and transFERS) First of all, here are some things to consider when you are choosing your retirement date this year - or any year.(5/26/05)


House committee votes to add employee, retiree benefits
The House Government Reform Committee approved three bills Tuesday benefiting federal workers and retirees, although the measures are unlikely to become law in the near future.
One of the most contentious bills would allow federal retirees to pay their health insurance premiums with pretax dollars--a practice known as "premium conversion." The bill (H.R. 994), introduced by Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., and co-sponsored by Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., also moved through the committee smoothly last year, but was eventually blocked by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif. (5/18/05)


Congress not sweating retirement-President Bush shook up the debate about reforming Social Security last month with a suggestion to cut benefits for middle- and high-income earners while leaving low-wage earners' benefits alone. Now congressional Republicans are putting together a bill supporting his ideas. We need to keep in mind that though they may be politically invested in this reform, few, if any, elected officials are personally invested. That's because many are so wealthy, they and their families won't ever depend on Social Security. (5/9/05)


A Diet Social Security Check

When you retire, and Social Security finds out that you are fed under the CSRS program, odds are your benefit will be reduced, and any Social Security spousal or survivor benefit you expected will be eliminated. That's because of the "windfall" and "offset" formulas Congress has applied to the Social Security benefits of feds (teachers, cops, and others) who have their own retirement system, but didn't spend a full career (like 30 years) paying in to Social Security.

In most cases, feds can qualify for Social Security benefits after paying into the program for 40 quarters, or ten years. This is for Social Security covered work before or after they joined Uncle Sam, or in some cases a second job they had while working for the federal government.

But when the "windfall" formula kicks in, and it will if you are under CSRS, it can trim your estimated Social Security benefit by as much as $300 a month. If the "offset" formula, which applies to CSRS retirees entitled to their spouses' Social Security, is applied to that benefit, the benefit is usually wiped out - Mike Causey (5/5/05)


Age-bias law excludes some jobs that involve public safety (source: Newsday)

Q. In a previous column you said it was illegal for a company to force someone into retirement because of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Can you tell me how long this act has been in existence? I am a former U.S. postal inspector and faced mandatory retirement at age 55 in 1983. Your column has aroused my curiosity as to whether I might be eligible for retroactive benefits.

A. Unfortunately, between your occupation and the statutes of limitations, you probably fall outside the protections of the ADEA, which was enacted in 1967.

As a rule, employment decisions cannot legally be made on the basis of age, but certain public occupations are excluded for public safety reasons, said New York employment-rights attorney Alan Sklover, author of "Sklover's Guide to Job Security: The 7 Steps to Staying Employed and Employable" (self-published, $39.95). Those exclusions affect firefighters, airline pilots and law-enforcement officers who carry firearms.

"We all recognize that certain aspects of health, such as muscular strength, agility and eyesight, do tend to affect almost everyone's abilities during later years," Sklover said. "And that might pose a danger to the public in certain occupations." And your status as a postal inspector, especially if you carried a gun, "may put you in this category," Sklover said.

Even if the law had protected you, the statutes of limitations have expired. If you have an age discrimination complaint, you must contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days, or 300 days if the complaint is also covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law. "That makes you about 21 years too late," Sklover said. (5/1/05) Most people aren’t saving enough for retirement, report says-Sliding into what poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow dubbed “the evening twilight” of life, Harold Plummer admits he is feeling pretty confident. The Norfolk resident retired a year ago in February after 39 years with the U.S. Postal Service, with a full federal civil service pension plus his own personal investments. "Most people say they live month-to-month, and their attitude is 'I'm getting by now, why not then?'" said Craig Copeland, a researcher for the Employee Benefit Research Institute. "And many workers also still think they have time, which may not be correct.". Planning tips for retirement: How much do you need to save for your retirement? It depends. The goal, experts say, is to generate enough income, through pensions, savings, investments, Social Security and even work, to cover costs. Individuals must determine how they want to live and figure the costs, and then calculate whether their revenue streams will cover that. (4/22/05)

Experts list several tips for preparing for a financially secure retirement:

- Study your Social Security benefit statement when it arrives in the mail. Pay attention to the age at which you will be eligible for full benefits and the projected benefit amount.

- Visit the Social Security Administration’s planning Web site ( , which has calculators and other resources.

- Prepare a realistic, post-retirement budget of income and expenses. Update it as needed based on changing lifestyle.

- Make a plausible estimate of how long you might live, based upon family history and personal health. Update as needed.

- Using your budget and life expectancy, try to estimate how much you need to be saving to arrive at a figure that will last throughout your retirement.

- Structure retirement savings to provide cash flow and liquidity as necessary, while keeping some assets in longer-term investment products.

- Sign up for your 401(k) savings plan at work for automatic payroll deductions, or open an individual retirement account (IRA) and have your bank shift money automatically every payday. Or do both.

- Increase the percentage of income being contributed to your retirement account every time you get a raise.

- Think about health and health-care costs in all savings decisions.

- Don’t decide to retire until you have a plan.

FERS offers employees the best retirement benefits-The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) program is the best retirement system created thus far. Certainly, one can appreciate the benefits of the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and CSRS-Offset, but never before has our government or corporate America provided employees the opportunity to amass such a level of retirement savings. With FERS pensions, advanced Social Security benefits via the supplemental annuity and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), it is no wonder pending federal retirees are excited about their retirement future. This undervalued plan has provided a solid and equitable means for federal employees to maximize their retirement savings and supplement TSP contributions. Unfortunately, amid speculation and skepticism, many under CSRS and CSRS-Offset chose not to transfer to the FERS program when they had the opportunity in 1998. (4/9/05)

Retirees Getting Snared in Credit-Card Bind- Clara and Charles Unruh have lived in their Philadelphia home for nearly 50 years. And now they could lose it. They were so heavily in debt after they retired that they were forced to put their home up for collateral in what's known as a reverse mortgage. A lot of seniors in this country are living primarily on Social Security," said Tamara Draut, co-author of the study. "When they're on fixed incomes and they see something like health-care costs rise, they have credit cards. They really are turning into a private safety net." (4/9/05)

CSRS enrollment is declining but not disappearing-Since the Civil Service Retirement System began being phased out in the mid-1980s, the number of active-duty government workers enrolled in it has dropped to about 742,000, fueling speculation about its viability. (4/5/05)

Windfall Elimination Provision could affect you -Are you entitled to receive pension benefits from a job in which you pay no Social Security taxes, such as work for the federal government under the Civil Service Retirement System, your state government or for an employer in another country? Yet you’ve also worked part-time or gone into a second career where you paid Social Security taxes and will some day be eligible for benefits? Then those Social Security benefits (including disability benefits) might be smaller than you anticipate because of what’s called the Windfall Elimination Provision (2/14/05)

 A Risk in Going Part-Time by APWU Retirees Director John Smith-“What is the Part-Time Pro-ration Factor?” This continues to be the most-asked-about and talked-about subject in our retirement seminars. It is important that every member who is considering changing to part-time work late in a career be familiar with the following... (2/7/05)


CSRS Early Out Computation Estimates

(Estimates based on retiring during the first pay period of January 2003)

Level/Step High 3


55 Years Old - 30 Years of Service

Annual $22,539 $23,059 $24,245 $25,635
Monthly $1,878 $1,922 $2,020 $2,137
There is a 2% reduction in the annuity for every year employee is under 55 years of age.
52 Years Old - 30 Years of Service - 6% reduction
Annual $21,186 $21,675 $22,790 $24,097
Monthly $1,765 $1,806 $1,899 $2,008
50 Years Old - 30 Years of Service - 10% reduction
Annual $20,285 $20,753 $21,820 $23,071
Monthly $1,690 $1,729 $1,899 $2,008
50 Years Old - 20 Years of Service - 10% reduction
Annual $13,073 $13,374 $14,062 $14,868
Monthly $1,089 $1,115 $1,172 $1,239
55 Years Old - 25 Years of Service
Annual $18,532 $18,959 $19,935 $21,078
Monthly $1,544 $1,580 $1,660 $1,756
The example below shows how the calculations were done. 53 Years Old - 25 Years of Service 2% X 2 (difference between ages 55 and 53) = 4% reduction
  $18,531 $18,959 $19,934 $21,077
  X.04 X.04 X.04 X.04
  $741 $758 $797 $843
  $18,531 $18,959 $19,934 $21,077
  -741 -758 -797 -843
Annual $17,791 $18,201 $19,137 $20,234
Monthly $1,483 $1,517 $1,595 $1,686




Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

  Information based on REGULAR CSRS Retirement

Retirement Percentages Based on Yrs. of Service CSRS

5 7.50% 18 32.25% 31 58.25%
6 9.25% 19 34.25% 32 60.25%
7 11.00% 20 36.25% 33 62.25%
8 12.75% 21 38.25% 34 64.25%
9 14.50% 22 40.25% 35 66.25%
10 16.25% 23 42.25% 36 68.25%
11 18.25% 24 44.25% 37 70.25%
12 20.25% 25 46.25% 38 72.25%
13 22.25% 26 48.25% 39 74.25%
14 24.25% 27 50.25% 40 76.25%
15 26.25% 28 52.25% 41 78.25%
16 28.25% 29 54.25% 42 80.00%
17 30.25% 30 56.25% 43 80.00%

Retirement Eligibility (CSRS)

Benefits are payable after... Your Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) is...
30 years of service Age 55
20 years of service Age 60
5 years of service Age 62

Retirement Eligibility (FERS)

Benefits are payable with 30 years service. The minimum retirement age (MRA) is determined by an individual’s year of birth, as follows:

Year of Birth

Your MRA is age...

Before 1948 55
In 1948 55 and 2 months
In 1949 55 and 4 months
In 1950 55 and 6 months
In 1951 55 and 8 months
In 1952 55 and 10 months
In 1953 - 1964 56
In 1965 56 and 2 months
In 1966 56 and 4 months
In 1967 56 and 6 months
In 1968 56 and 8 months
In 1969 56 and 10 months
In 1970 and after 57
20 years of Service Age 60
10 years of Service with a reduction of 5% for each
year under age 62
5 years of Service Age 62

Facing excessing?  For information on  relocation benefitsreinstatement policies, severance pay and more, see  USPS Publication 164. 
If you were hired into the Postal Service on or after October 1, 1982, no credit will be given for your military service after 1956 if you fail to make the necessary deposit BEFORE you retire.  Vets hired before that date are subject to Catch-62.  For a detailed explanation of what military service is creditable for retirement, see  For more information on making a deposit for military service, see
Did you switch from CSRS to FERS during the open season in 1998?  If so, to avoid the Government Pension Offset, you must complete FIVE years of service under FERS before you retire.
Are you a FERS-covered employee  thinking of retiring early?  Remember that the Retiree Annuity Supplement won't start until you are age 55 to 57 (depending on >your  year of birth).  Unlike CSRS, a FERS annuitant has to wait until age 62 to start getting annual COLA increases.>
One of the best  resources on retirement is the CSRS and FERS Handbook for Personnel and Payroll Offices published by the Office of Personnel Management.  Anyone with retirement questions will find it very helpful.  It is posted online at

Don Cheney
Vice President
Auburn, WA Local