589 General Retirement Information


Reference Note:

For additional material concerning the subject matter found in 589, refer to:

589.1 Retirement Counseling

589.11 Responsibility

The Postal Service ensures that retirement information and counseling are made available to Postal Service employees.

589.12 Retirement Annuity Estimates

Retirement annuity estimates are provided to all employees through the use of the National Retirement Counseling System (NARECS) as follows:

  1. Upon request within three years of an employee’s first optional retirement eligibility date, based on payroll and personnel system–generated retirement computation date.
  2. Automatically once each year, once age and service eligibility criteria for optional retirement have been met.
  3. Through the Postal Service’s self-service, web-based application, eRetire.
  4. Note: Employees who do not have computer access may contact the HRSSC by telephone to request annuity estimates.

589.13 Group Retirement Information Programs
589.131 Nature of Group Programs

The Postal Service ensures that at least one FERS retirement information program is held each fiscal year. Sessions are to be open to all employees, regardless of age, years of service, and first date of optional retirement eligibility, and spouses and other interested parties may also attend. These programs are provided using a combination of media and facilitation, with dates, times, and other particulars of the sessions determined by local service personnel. Participation is voluntary and off the clock. Group information programs are supplementary to, not a substitute for, individual counseling as described in 589.14.

589.132 Group Program Content

During the retirement information programs, information on all subjects that may factor in retirement is presented to allow employees to plan constructively for their retirement years.

589.14 Individual Retirement Counseling
589.141 Nature of Individual Counseling

As part of the retirement process, employees may request individual retirement counseling from the Human Resources Shared Services Center (HRSSC). Counseling is provided by a retirement specialist at the HRSSC who can provide detailed information on retirement health benefits, life insurance, and other retirement–related benefits programs. These counseling sessions are conducted via telephone primarily, and they may involve use of a computer and/or electronic media, as appropriate. The retirement specialist may also direct the employee to other sources to obtain information specific to certain topics, including TSP and Social Security. The sessions are on the clock if the retirement specialist is available to provide such counseling during the same tour as the employee.

589.142 Counseling Session Content

Before scheduling the counseling session, the retirement specialist orders an annuity estimate, based on the retirement effective date and type of retirement (optional, disability, etc.) requested by the employee, to be mailed to the employee’s address of record.

During the counseling session, the retirement specialist:

  1. Reviews the employee’s retirement application and verifies that all the appropriate documents are signed and dated.
  2. Reviews the employee’s annuity estimate and answers any questions raised by the employee.
  3. Clarifies the employee’s work and leave status up to the date of retirement.
  4. Identifies the need for additional documents, proofs, affidavits, etc., if necessary.
  5. Verifies the civilian and military service history and the advantages, if any, of deposits or redeposits.
  6. Addresses other retirement–related benefits and payments, including but not limited to, Alternative Fund Annuity (AFA), health benefits, life insurance, terminal leave, Thrift Savings Accounts, and flexible benefits.
589.143 Advice to Employee

In providing advice to employees, the retirement counselor reminds the employee that:

  1. Although information is provided on various provisions and options under the retirement law, final choices (except in the case of management–initiated disability retirement) are the decision of the employee.
  2. Any estimate of annuity is preliminary and subject to final determination by OPM.

589.2 Retirement Forms

589.21 Processing

Handbook EL–301, Guidelines for Processing Personnel Actions, contains information on processing retirement forms in connection with personnel actions.

589.22 Requisitioning Forms

Installations are expected to maintain a supply of retirement forms sufficient to meet anticipated needs. Such forms are requisitioned from the materiel distribution centers under regular requisitioning procedures.

589.3 Information Source for Separated or Retired Employees

Questions relating to the amount of annuity to which a separated or retired employee is entitled, or to specific benefits of survivors of employees or of annuitants, are referred to the:

PO BOX 200
BOYERS PA 16020–0200

589.4 Information Source for Employees

Questions relating to administration or questions requiring interpretation of the Federal Employees Retirement System law or regulations, are referred, through channels, to the:

WASHINGTON DC 20260–4213

589.5 Federal Income Tax

589.51 Taxable Annuities

Annuities under FERS are subject to the general rule under the Internal Revenue Code. This rule provides that each monthly annuity payment is made up of two parts: (a) the tax–free part (which represents a return of employee contributions) and (b) the taxable balance. The tax–free part, once calculated, is a specific dollar amount which remains in effect until a retiree has recovered all of the contributions made to the retirement fund. At that time the entire monthly annuity becomes taxable.

589.52 Federal Income Tax Withholding

Annuities are subject to federal tax withholding unless a retiree elects not to have tax withheld. Retirees who elect not to have tax withheld, may have to make estimated tax payments. Generally, the tax withheld or estimated tax, or the total of both, must cover at least 90 percent of the retiree’s total tax for the year or 100 percent of the tax shown on the retiree’s return for the previous year, whichever is less. Retirees may elect the amount they wish to have withheld on Form W–4P, which is available from OPM or the IRS.

589.53 Federal Income Tax Questions

Questions relative to any aspect of federal income tax must be directed to the Internal Revenue Service.

589.6 Privacy Act Considerations

589.61 General

Retirement records contain information about individuals. As such, they may be handled and disclosed only in accordance with the Privacy Act and implementing instructions. (See Administrative Support Manual 353.)

589.62 OPM Records

Those records which are sent to OPM become OPM’s records. Retired employees making requests under the Privacy Act for such records should, therefore, direct their requests to the:

PO BOX 200
BOYERS PA 16020–0200

589.63 Postal Service Records

Copies of an individual’s retirement records and related correspondence may be maintained within the Postal Service in one of two ways: either in the personnel area as part of the privacy system entitled USPS 120.070, Personnel Records — General Personnel Folders (Official Personnel Folders and Records Related Thereto), or in the Eagan ASC as part of the privacy system entitled “USPS 050.020, Finance Records — Payroll Systems.” Employees making requests specifically for access to or update of these records direct their requests to the nearest Postal Service personnel office for processing.