|USPS Retiree Quarterly Newsletter: "Hit" or "Miss"
USPS Retiree Quarterly Newsletter: "Hit" or "Miss"
September 12, 2019
(This article first appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
The USPS Retiree Quarterly Newsletter Spring 2019 issue, the first mailed to all USPS retirees, was both a “Hit” and a “Miss.” The “Hit” was that we now know that the USPS can reach out to all USPS retirees by mail at their current addresses (unless retiree says not to contact). The “Miss” was that the first issue included disturbing misinformation regarding Medicare Advantage Plans (MAP) and Federal Employee Health Benefits Plans (FEHB).
The USPS Retiree Quarterly Newsletter did not include the bold warning to SUSPEND your FEHB coverage, do not cancel your FEHB coverage, if you decide to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan.
When FEHB coverage is suspended to enroll in MAP, retirees can always re-enroll in a FEHB plan. However, if a FEHB plan is cancelled to enroll in MAP, retirees are out of FEHB forever. If a retiree decided to switch back to traditional Medicare Part B from MAP and have cancelled their FEHB plan, there will be no FEHB plan available to cover those remaining balances of co-pays, deductible and other medical expenses not paid by Medicare Part B.
Medicare “DIS” Advantage Plan
Why is the USPS promoting MAP in newsletters and in webinars that do not feature all FEHB plans?
Could it be that the USPS is looking to use the retiree health benefits to generate savings by any means? When a retiree cancels their FEHB coverage and enrolls in Medicare Advantage Plan, that’s one less premium for the USPS to pay in the future – because you can’t come back to FEHB.
The USPS shared the above “bold warning” with those retirees who received their monthly USPS Retiree Newsletter to suspend instead of cancelling their FEHB plan when enrolling in MAP, but did not include the warning in the hard copy quarterly newsletter mailed to retirees. Why not? The answer given to APWU was that the information was covered in a webinar.
APWU reminded management that we are retired postal workers and many retirees prefer to receive hard-copies in their mailbox; many retirees are not tech-savvy and may not know how to participate in a webinar, or don’t check their emails regularly (if they have email). We emphasized that the information in the hard-copy newsletter should be at least as comprehensive as the e-newsletter.
We don’t know whether improvements will result from our discussion. Open Season is here. Our message to retirees is to approach any changes with CAUTION. Read, discuss with your family, and ask questions before you make any decisions affecting your health benefits.
Tell Congress to Pass the Social Security Fairness Act
Now that the 116th Congress is back in session, we continue to work to ensure that this Congress passes The Social Security Fairness Act – H.R. 141 and S. 521 – to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provisions (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO).
The WEP/GPO are penalties imposed on CSRS annuitants, in 1983 and 1977 respectively, who worked more than one job and paid into CSRS as well as Social Security. The WEP adversely affected retirees who receive a CSRS pension and also qualify for Social Security benefits from other employment by denying an equitable benefit for those Social Security contributions.
The Congressional Research Service published a Social Security report indicating that as of December 2017, more than 1.8 million Social Security beneficiaries were affected by the WEP, which included 1,687,542 retirees. Reach out to both the House and the Senate on both sides of the aisle – by telephone, email, mail, or in person and ask them to support H.R. 141 and S. 521, The Social Security Fairness Act.
|APWU Retirees Still Fighting for Justice - Nancy Olumekor July 25, 2019
The APWU Retirees Department is mourning the sudden loss of Elizabeth “Beth” Bobo (Cramer), Southern APWU Retiree Delegate to the National Convention.
Beth served as the Southern Region Retiree Delegate to the APWU National Convention since 1999. Beth, a Navy veteran, retired on disability from the USPS over 20 years ago at the age of 40. For many years, Beth worked at the Schaumburg, IL Post Office before relocating to Florida. In Florida, Beth was an officer and active member of the Southwest Florida Area Local for many years.
On April 16 and 17, Beth attended the Florida State Retirees Spring Seminar, where she shared her stories of leafletting during the 2019 National Tax Day of Action and encouraged her neighbors to support postal worker issues. She requested additional tax day flyers to continue spreading the word.
Beth could be seen and heard at every APWU National Convention speaking at the microphones. She loved the APWU and she loved being a voice for retirees and anyone who needed a voice.
Beth’s many years of hard work and dedication to APWU and the APWU Retirees Department is recognized, acknowledged and appreciated by all who knew her. We will miss her voice, and evidence of her work and her spirit will be remembered by all whom she touched.
Her family has requested that if you wish to make any donation, please make it to the American Heart Association in memory of Elizabeth “Beth” Bobo.
Tell Congress to Pass the Social Security Fairness Act and Social Security Expansion Act NOW!
During this 116th session of Congress, The Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 141 and S. 521), along with the Social Security Expansion Act (S. 478 and H.R. 1170) must be passed by both houses of Congress.
The Social Security Fairness Act would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provisions (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) adversely affects those receiving a Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) pension while also qualifying for Social Security benefits from other employment. The Government Pension Offset (GPO) reduces Social Security benefits to our dependents, including spouses or widows, by two-thirds if they are currently receiving a retirement or disability pension based on our prior government employment, during which we did not pay into Social Security.
There are still millions of CSRS annuitants watching and waiting for Congress to pass legislation to repeal the WEP and GPO in order to provide us with a fair return on our investment in the Social Security system. Many CSRS annuitants worked other jobs in order to increase their Social Security benefits.
The Social Security Expansion Act, S. 478 and H.R. 1170, as reported by the Legislative Department, would lift the earnings cap on Social Security taxes currently in place for all incomes over $250,000. Lifting the cap would result in extending the solvency of Social Security. In addition, low-income earners would see an increase in their Social Security benefits by $1,300/year.
Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) would be calculated by using the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPIE), which would yield a fairer cost of living increase than the current way of calculation.
Continue to write letters or postcards and call Capitol Hill at 1-202-224-3121 to speak to your member of Congress!
|Postal Retirement Benefits
Postal Retirement Benefits
The APWU and other federal unions have worked with Congress for many decades to ensure retirement income security for employees who spend their careers in government service.
Today, most postal employees are eligible to participate in one of two federal retirement benefit programs:
The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), which provides benefits for most workers hired before 1984.
The Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), which covers all workers hired after 1984.
Though FERS pays a smaller monthly benefit than CSRS, FERS retirees also receive Social Security and Thrift Savings Plan payments.
Whichever plan you are enrolled in, your retirement benefits are administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
Regardless of how many more years you may work before retirement, it's a good idea to understand all the benefits you earn and to plan early.
For complete information about the CSRS and FERS, visit OPM's Federal Retirement Programs Web site, www.opm.gov/retire/index.asp, or visit your USPS personnel office.
General enrollment in Medicare is open from Jan. 1 through March 31, but don’t confuse the general enrollment period with your eligibility enrollment period: You are eligible to enroll in Medicare three months before you turn 65, the month of your 65th birthday, and three months after the month you turn 65.
You will be penalized if you enroll outside of your eligibility period and your options to enroll will be limited.
If you miss your eligibility window, you may sign up only during the general enrollment period at the beginning of the year, with few exceptions. And, if Social Security records reflect that you have enrolled late, you will be required to pay a penalty in addition to the monthly premium. The penalty for enrolling late is 10 percent for each year you delay enrollment in Medicare Part B.
For most USPS retirees, the premium for Medicare Part B for 2015 is $104.90. Medicare B covers medically-necessary services from doctors and other health care providers, ambulance services, outpatient care, home health care, and some preventative services. For a complete list of covered services, visit www.Medicare.gov.
Medicare Part A covers hospitalization and it’s free because you paid for it while you worked for the Postal Service. You are eligible for Medicare Part A if you are over 65, under 65 with certain disabilities, or currently receiving Social Security benefits. If you are covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) you will not be penalized if you sign-up for Medicare Part A after age 65.
The questions asked most frequently about Medicare are:
How do I enroll? - You can sign up for Medicare by visiting your local Social Security office or by completing an online application at www.socialsecurity.gov. You may also call to request an appointment to enroll by phone by calling 1-800-772-1213; TTY/TDD: 1-877-486-2048.
How do I make the payment for Medicare Part B? - There is a range of options for paying Medicare premiums. You may pay by automatic bill payment through your bank account (also known as Medicare Easy Pay), by check, or the payments may be withheld from your Social Security or annuity benefit. Be clear with Social Security on the payment method you select to avoid a delay in processing your first payments.
Should I keep my Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan and enroll in Medicare Parts A and B as well? - That’s a personal decision; when weighing your options, you should consider your usage of medical services, your ability to pay, and the penalty for enrolling late in Medicare Part B. When you retain your FEHB Plan and enroll in Medicare A and B, Medicare will be your primary payer and your FEHB Plan will cover most of the difference. APWU retirees who are in the APWU Health Plan have expressed appreciation for having both Medicare and our health plan. If you have a FEHB plan other than APWU, you should contact your FEHB plan for advice.
When does Medicare take effect? The date coverage begins depends on when you enrolled. If you enrolled during your 65th birthday enrollment period, coverage starts the first day of your birth month, unless your birthday is on the first day of the month; if your birthday is on the first day of the month, the coverage starts on the prior month. If you enrolled the month after your 65th, there is a delay of one month for each month you delay in getting coverage after turning 65. For example, if you wait one month after your birth month to sign up, coverage will start two months after you sign up. Finally, if you sign up during the general enrollment period, coverage starts on July 1 of that year.
For more information about Medicare, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit www.Medicare.gov.
|About the APWU Retirees Department
About the APWU Retirees Department
The APWU Retirees Department is the voice of retired APWU members — within the union and on Capitol Hill.
Retirees helped build the union as we fought for — and won — better wages, improved benefits, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
Now, the union fights for retirees as Congress makes budget and policy decisions that affect our pensions and healthcare coverage, and that impact our lives in a profound way. The Retirees Department seeks to organize retired APWU members to join in these struggles.
The department also provides members with opportunities to see old friends — and make new ones— by participating in the activities of APWU Retiree Chapters and other union events.
The APWU Retirees Department was established in 1992 by delegates to the union’s 11th Biennial National Convention. Our goal was to bring retirees back into the union family while advancing the objectives of retired and active union members. The creation of the department required the passage of an amendment to the APWU Constitution and Bylaws, approved by more than two-thirds of voting delegates.
At subsequent conventions, delegates amended the constitution to strengthen the voice of retirees in union affairs, voting to allow retirees to elect five regional Retirees National Convention Delegates; to improve funding of retiree chapters, and to allow members of the APWU Retirees Department to elect the department director, beginning with the 2007 election of national officers.
Currently, there are more than 80,000 APWU Retirees Department members, 39local Retiree chapters, and four state chapters.
Page Last Updated: Sep 18, 2019 (13:43:54)