Government Pension Offset

 Information For Separating FERS Employees

Who Are Not Eligible for an Immediate Annuity

Windfall Elimination Provision How Your Retirement Benefit is
Military Veterans Catch-62 OPM Disability Retirement Law
Information from Attorney Harvey Friedman

Voluntary Early Retirement (VER)


CSRS & FERS Retirement


Retirement Eligibility

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
The following can be found at the Office of Personnel and Management Web site:
 Retirement Percentages Based on Years 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%

The Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) administers both USPS retirement programs - the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). The CSRS generally applies to employees who received a career appointment before January 1, 1984 while the FERS applies to employees whose initial career appointment was January 1, 1984 or later, and CSRS employees that elected to transfer to FERS. Both systems have the same purposes, however, both operate under a unique set of guidelines and rules.

The following Web sites also have information about your retirement benefits:


The following forms can be found at the Office of Personnel and Management Web site:

  • (SF 2803) Application to Make Deposit or Redeposit
  • (SF 3102) Designation of Beneficiary (FERS)
  • (SF 3106) Application for Refund or Retirement Deductions
  • (SF 3109) FERS Election of Coverage
  • (SF 3110) Former Spouse's Consent to FERS Election
  • (SF 3111) Request for Waiver, Extension, or Search in Connection with Election of FERS Coverage, FERS

More Retirement Information:

Minimum Retirement Age
The minimum retirement age (MRA) is determined by an individualís year of birth, as follows:

Year of Birth - MRA:

Before 1948 - 55 Years
1948 - 55 Years and 2 Months
1949 - 55 Years and 4 Months
1950 - 55 Years and 6 Months
1951 - 55 Years and 8 Months
1952 - 55 Years and 10 Months
1953-1964 - 56 Years
1965 - 56 Years and 2 Months
1966 - 56 Years and 4 Months
1967 - 56 Years and 6 Months
1968 - 56 Years and 8 Months
1969 - 56 Years and 10 Months
1970 and After - 57 Years

Donít Believe Your SS Benefits Statement
Author and Source: Mike Causey's Federal Report

For most workers the annual earnings-and-benefits statements from Social Security are a blessing.

The statements, which usually arrive a couple of months before your birthday, tell you how long you've paid into Social Security, the amount, the number of quarters credit you have (it takes 40 to qualify for a minimum benefit and 160 or more to qualify for the maximum) and estimates the size of your Social Security check when you start collecting benefits.

As a retirement tool the Social Security statements are invaluable. Social Security represents the primary and often the only retirement benefit for about half of all Americans.

But for federal workers, especially the hundreds of thousands still under the old Civil Service Retirement System, the statements are worthless.

Actually worse than worthless. Reason? They are misleading. They tell you that you will qualify for a benefit that in fact you will never see. Why? Because the statements don't take into account that because you are a fed under the CSRS system you are subject to the so-called "Windfall Elimination Provision", known as WEP or Windfall.

The Windfall formula was devised by Congress years ago because many high-paid feds were fiddling with the system. They were qualifying for substantial civil service retirement benefits based on their high salaries and long service, and also benefiting from the "welfare tilt" in Social Security. It rewards people who worked and paid into Social Security for a short-time, or with a low salary, with a higher benefit return. Some of the government executives were collecting higher Social Security benefits based on work they had done as teenagers or in low-paying jobs they had before coming into government. A few were caught in back-scratching deals. Meaning, two feds "hired" each other to work perhaps doing yard or house work for minimum pay and minimum Social Security tax. Eventually, they qualified for a higher benefit based on their low-income, short-service work history.

Congress lowered the boom and the "windfall" formula was born. In essence it said that people who didn't pay into Social Security for a full 30 years, who qualified for an annuity or pension based on non-covered employment would have their Social Security benefit reduced.

The maximum reduction for someone retiring this year is $300 per month, because of the windfall formula. Many feds -- especially those who don't understand its history -- find it outrageous. Since it also affects many school teachers, a growing number of House and Senate members want windfall and its evil twin, the so-called "Offset formula", modified or repealed. Windfall hits the Social Security benefit earned by a fed. Offset can wipe out the Social Security spousal or survivor benefit of a fed who gets his or her own civil service retirement.

Even though they seemed like a good idea at the time, many people think windfall and offset have outlived their usefulness and now punish people unfairly. Federal, postal and retiree groups made an all-out drive during the Easter/Passover recess to get co-sponsors for bills to modify or repeal offset and windfall. They are getting close to the magic number that would guarantee passage. What they haven't gotten yet is a promise of hearings before the House and Senate committees that deal with Social Security and taxation matters.

Until windfall and offset are modified (to exempt a portion of combined federal and Social Security monthly benefits from the formula) or are repealed outright, don't make any financial plans based on the benefit statement you get from Social Security.

Many thanks to the APWU OF FLORIDA STATE RETIREE CHAPTER for this information.












  12. LWOP











ANNUAL LEAVE:  At the time you retire, the Postal Service will pay you for up to a maximum of only 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.  Itís a crying shame, but thatís 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 monthís 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.

LWOP:  The only way LWOP can delay your postal retirement by reducing your years of service credits is if you take over six (6) months of LWOP in a calendar year.

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 50ís 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.

SICK LEAVE (FERS):  If you are in FERS, you get no credit for accumulated sick leave for extra monthly and years of service to retire.

SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS:  Telephone the Social Security Administration 1-800-772-1213 or go on line to their web site to ask for a ďRequest for Earnings and Benefit StatementĒ 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!

SURVIVORíS 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 donít 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 canít 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!