|Still Fighting for Justice: Continuing to Use Our Voices for What’s Next
Still Fighting for Justice: Continuing to Use Our Voices for What’s Next
November 17, 2020
(This article first appeared in the November/December 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
Yes, the voice of retirees, and everyone else, was heard in the 2020 elections. We must still do the work to protect our federal pensions, benefits and the Postal Service. Retirees and postal workers will continue to let Congress know that we expect them to protect our hard-earned benefits – our federal pensions (CSRS or FERS), Social Security, Medicare, health insurance and life insurance, and we expect them to protect and preserve the Postal Service by supporting and passing legislation to accomplish these goals.
There are still millions of CSRS annuitants waiting for Congress to pass legislation to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) in order to provide us with a fair return on our investment in the Social Security system. Many CSRS annuitants worked and contributed into the Social Security system at the same rate as other non- CSRS annuitants who contributed to Social Security, yet CSRS annuitants are denied an equitable benefit for those contributions. It is time for the Social Security Fairness Act to become the law.
Retirees are also being short-changed by the method used to calculate our COLA. The method is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) instead of the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). Using CPI-W takes money out of seniors’ pockets by using the spending habits of urban and clerical workers as the factor instead of the using the spending habits of the elderly. Using CPI-W and calculating consumer spending habits of people who work does not accurately reflect the spending patterns of those who are retired or disabled.
To collect data on the inflation rate faced by consumers in the marketplace, the federal government collects data on costs for what they call the “market basket” of goods and services. According to The National Committee to Preserve and Protect Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), research shows that elderly people have higher costs for “market basket” categories such as health care and housing while urban and clerical workers have higher cost expenses for such things as education, clothing, and transportation. The NCPSSM also writes that “not only do health care expenditures steadily increase with age but health care costs have also consistently risen much faster than other 'market basket' categories.”
“The CPI-W does not take these critical differences in the elderly population into consideration,” the NCPPSM says. The CPI-E represents the most accurate measure of the inflation affecting our nation’s seniors.
It is incumbent upon workers and retirees to do everything we can to achieve a fair COLA by encouraging Congress to pass legislation that will calculate retirees’ COLA based on CPI-E. Continue to write letters, postcards and emails and call Congress at 1-202-224-3121. Remind Congress what our paramount issues are as postal retirees, senior citizens and postal workers.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE
Thank you to my sister and brother postal workers for showing up and moving the mail in service to America. Thank you to all the veterans and all the active military personnel for your service; thank you to all the essential workers who are our families, our friends, our neighbors for your continued service.
As I reflect on 2020 it is clear to me that I must never miss an opportunity to say “Thank you.” I am mindful of the friends, families and loved ones that APWU members and retirees have lost this year, including our first Retirees Director John R “JR” Smith, as well as the other great unionists who helped build APWU. Without their service and commitment we would not be here.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Good Health and Happiness in the New Year to all.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you.
|Annual Leave Payment Limitations for Retirees
Annual Leave Payment Limitations for Retirees
December 24, 2020
For APWU members planning on retiring at the end of the year, you may be affected by limitations to the annual leave carryover.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the APWU worked to negotiate various MOUs that would be beneficial to all of us during the pandemic. One of those MOUs was to increase the amount of leave that an employee could carry over into leave year 2021. This MOU allows for a maximum of 520 hours of earned annual leave to carry over into leave year 2021. If you have earned and banked more than 440 hours of annual leave and are planning on that leave being paid out to you as a terminal leave payment, you need to be aware of an issue that has been identified that will affect your annual leave payment.
Leave year 2020 concludes on January 1, 2020 and leave year 2021 begins on January 2, 2021. If you are a CSRS employee and retire on or before January 1, 2021 you can only be paid up to a maximum of 440 hours of annual leave. You would lose any earned annual leave over the 2020 leave year maximum of 440 hours. If you are CSRS and retire January 2 or 3, 2021 you will receive an earned annual leave payment up to 520 hours and an annuity payment for January 2021.
If you are a FERS employee, it is more complicated. You must retire on the last day of the month in order to receive an annuity payment for the following month. In this case, to receive a payment for January 2021 you must retire on December 31, 2020. However, you would lose any annual leave you have earned in excess of 440 hours. If you wait to retire on January 2, 2021, you would be paid earned annual leave up to 520 hours. But you would forfeit the right to an annuity payment for January 2021.
If you will not have more than 440 hours of annual on your currently scheduled retirement date you do not need to take any action unless you are a FERS employee with a January 1, 2021 retirement date and want to receive an annuity check for the month of January. To do so you must retire on December 31, 2020.
However, if you will have more than 440 hours of annual leave on your scheduled retirement date, you need to consider your options.
- CSRS and FERS Option 1: continue with retirement on December 31, 2020 with the understanding that you will not be paid for any earned annual leave over 440 hours but you will receive the January annuity payment.
- CSRS Option 2: Change your retirement to January 2 or 3, 2021 to receive a payment for earned annual leave up to 520 hours and a January annuity payment.
- FERS Option 2: contact the USPS HRSSC and change your scheduled retirement date to date in the new leave year (any date on or after January 2, 2021). But you do so with the understanding that if you retire on any day in January 2021 you will not receive an annuity payment for January 2021, but you will receive payment for earned annual leave up to 520 hours.
“We want you to have the information you need to make an informed decision and make your transition into retirement a successful and joyous time,” said Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman. “We urge you to cautiously consider how you choose to retire. Any questions should be directed to Charlie Cash in the Industrial Relations Department at 202-842-4273.”
|Alliance for Retired Americans Articles
Alliance for Retired Americans
815 16th Street, NW, Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20006
Spanish version: www.alianzadejubilados.org
October 16, 2020
Social Security Administration Announces
Meager 1.3% COLA Increase for 2021
The Social Security Administration announced on Tuesday that its annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be 1.3 percent in 2021, which means an average $20 boost in retirement benefits per month. This year’s COLA is the smallest since 2017 and slightly under the 1.4% average over the past decade.
“The members of the Alliance are disappointed and angry that Social Security beneficiaries will receive a paltry 1.3% benefit increase,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance in a statement. “While any COLA is better than nothing, 1.3% is not nearly enough to keep up with the escalating cost of prescription drugs and other expenses seniors have to spend their money on.”
He noted that at least 16% of seniors who work have lost their job due to the coronavirus pandemic, making Social Security a larger portion of their income. “To help seniors and strengthen Social Security, we need to protect and expand the program. We can modestly increase benefits by making the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share by removing the artificial earnings cap," Fiesta added.
In response to the small COLA and to account for the financial problems caused by the pandemic, House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John Larson (CT) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR) have proposed emergency legislation to raise the COLA to 3% next year.
Alliance Lawsuits in North Carolina and Wisconsin Continue to Make Their Way Through the Courts There were significant developments in several of the voting rights lawsuits filed by state Alliances this week to ensure that older voters can cast a vote that will be counted during the pandemic.
â In North Carolina, a federal district judge upheld key provisions of the agreement the North Carolina Alliance reached with the state earlier this year. â The Wisconsin Alliance’s case to restore the back-up option for voters who do not receive their absentee ballots in the mail is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The Alliance is proud of its work to make voting easier, especially during the pandemic,” said Executive Director Fiesta. “There are record requests for mail-ballots and people coming out for in-person early voting. Older voters need to be able to participate fully in this election with the least risk possible to their health and safety.”
Biden and Trump Step Up Their Fight for Older Voters
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden argued this week that President Trump has turned his back on older Americans, citing the president’s widely criticized response to the coronavirus, his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and his approach to Social Security and Medicare. According to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Biden is leading Trump with older voters by a whopping 27 points.
Referring to Trump’s pandemic response, Biden gave a speech at a community center for seniors in Pembroke Pines, Florida on Tuesday and said in Trump’s mind, seniors are “expendable.” “Donald Trump is simple — not a joke — you’re expendable,” he said. “You’re forgettable. You’re virtually nobody. That’s how he sees seniors,” Biden said. “The only senior that Donald Trump cares about — the only senior — is the senior Donald Trump,” he later added.
Amy Coney Barrett Hearings:
Maybe Medicare is Unconstitutional??
The Senate Judiciary Committee held its confirmation hearings this week for Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat. During the hearings Sen. Dianne Feinstein (CA) asked Barrett if she agreed with “some originalists who say the Medicare program is unconstitutional.” Barrett declined to answer the question. “It is outrageous that President Trump would consider a Supreme Court nominee who cannot say that Medicare is constitutional,” said Joseph Peters, Jr., SecretaryTreasurer of the Alliance. “The health of every senior is at risk with this nomination,” he continued.
'Judge Barrett Barrett could potentially be confirmed by the Senate and join the Court before Election Day, which means that she could rule on the upcoming Texas v. United States case about the future of the ACA. Many legal analysts think Barrett, if confirmed, could be the deciding vote to strike down the law.
Nursing Homes Continue to be Plagued by Covid-19
An AARP analysis of recent government data shows that 50% of U.S. nursing homes have staff infected with Covid-19. The virus has claimed over 215,000 lives, 40% of which have occurred in nursing homes. The analysis also found that a quarter of facilities are short on workers as well as personal protective equipment (PPE). Some states are doing far worse than others. For example, in Maine, New Mexico and New Hampshire, at least half of nursing homes reported insufficient PPE. In South Dakota and Kansas, more than half of nursing homes reported a staff shortage. “Seniors need strong national leadership to bring us out of the coronavirus crisis,” said Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance. “We have had more than enough time to address the PPE shortages in nursing homes that are a major factor in spreading the virus.”
The Hottest Trend in 2020: Voting Early
More than 17,800,000 Americans have cast their ballots either through the mail or in person, according to the U.S. Election Project, which tracks early voting statistics in real time. That number is almost 13 percent of the total number of Americans who voted in the 2016 presidential election.
States that kicked off early in-person voting this week were:
â Oct. 12 - Georgia
â Oct. 13 - Kentucky & Texas
â Oct. 14 - Kansas, Rhode Island & Tennessee
â Oct. 15 - North Carolina
â Oct. 16 - Washington, Louisiana
“Voting early is an opportunity to lock in your vote and then not have to worry about it,” said President Roach. “Go to vote.org if you have any questions about the deadlines or rules where you live.”
The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well-being of over 4.4 million retirees and their families.
|Social Security Announces 1.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2021
Social Security Announces
1.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2021
*Press release from the Social Security Administration
October 13, 2020
SOCIAL SECURITY ANNOUNCES 1.3 PERCENT BENEFIT INCREASE FOR 2021
*The following is a press release from the Social Security Administration:
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 1.3 percent in 2021, the Social Security Administration announced today.
The 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2021. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2020. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $142,800 from $137,700.
Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Information about Medicare changes for 2021, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov. For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2021 are announced. Final 2021 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security's Message Center.
The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.
|Being Retired During COVID-19
Being Retired During COVID-19
by Scott Morrow, President
The Denver Metro Retiree Chapter has numerous members over the age of 80 still enjoying their golden years. This particular demographic is dong the best job in Colorado of staying home and social distancing. We know this because 80+ year old Coloradans’ have by far the lowest infection rate in the State.
Unfortunately, as I write, while only 344 confirmed cases are in the 80+ age group out of Colorado’s 6202 confirmed cases, this demographic is experiencing a 26% mortality rate. While 221 cases did not even require hospitalization, more than one in four cases do require hospitalization and end in the passing of that person. This demographic has by far the highest mortality rate from COVID-19 infection.
Please, stay at home and refrain from having any guests over, including family. I love my grandchildren too, but if you desire some more time in your Golden Years you must be careful. Use the shop and delivery services every community in Colorado offers at no cost to you. The delivery volunteer will leave your groceries and/or prescriptions on the porch or doorstep. Immediately remove the items from the bags or other packaging and discard them. Wash your hands immediately with soapy water for at least 20 seconds and then use a nontoxic hand lotion to keep your skin from drying out. We now know the virus can survive on cardboard for 24 hours and on other surfaces for up to three days.
In Colorado, Retirees aged 70-79, have a 33% hospitalization rate and the mortality for this age group drops dramatically to 9.22%. With age does come wisdom as this demographic is the second lowest cases reported. I’m hopeful that all of you in this age range can practice the same life saving techniques I outlined above for 80+ retirees.
Our retirees aged 60 – 69 are the fourth lowest caseload (right behind 30-39 year olds) for unknown reasons. We should have more horse sense to protect ourselves and our fellow retirees. The hospitalization rate is 27% but the mortality rate drops significantly to less than 3%!
For these reasons the Chapter canceled it’s April 25th meeting at the Union Hall and attempted a virtual meeting. All notices of this type can be read at our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Denver-Metro-Retiree-Chapter-252140461608106/.
|Medicare and You
Medicare and You
January 23, 2020
(This article first appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
Medicare is health insurance for people 65 and older, people under 65 with certain disabilities, and people of any age with End-Stage Renal Disease.
What is Original Medicare?
Medicare Part A and Part B is referred to as “original” Medicare.
Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. It covers inpatient care in hospitals; it also includes coverage in critical access hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. It covers hospice care and home health care, though you must meet certain conditions to get these benefits. Medicare Part A is free for most people.
Medicare Part B is medical insurance. It covers medically necessary services like doctor’s visits, outpatient care, and other medical services that Part A doesn’t cover, such as lab work and durable medical equipment. Part B also covers many preventive services. Medicare Part B has a standard monthly premium for most people. The 2020 Part B premium is $144.60. People with higher incomes may pay a higher premium.
Original Medicare has deductibles for inpatient hospital stays, medical coverage and coinsurance. Medicare usually pays 80 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for medically-necessary care. The coinsurance is usually 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount. Original Medicare does not pay for prescription drugs, long-term care, routine dental services, routine vision care, and other services.
Most postal and federal retirees also keep their Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan (FEHB) which covers the co-pays and deductibles that Medicare Parts A and B doesn’t cover. Medicare Parts A and B along with your FEHB plan should keep most out-of-pocket medical costs down.
When Can You Enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B?
There are three (3) possible enrollment periods for Medicare A and B: the Initial Enrollment Period, General Enrollment Period and Special Enrollment Period.
Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
If you get Social Security retirement or disability benefits before age 65, the Social Security Administration will automatically enroll you in Medicare Parts A and B the month you turn 65. You’ll get a “Welcome to Medicare” booklet and your Medicare card about 3 months before your 65th birthday.
If you aren’t getting Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits you will need to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B during your Initial Enrollment Period. This is the period during the seven months surrounding the month you turn 65, when you’re first eligible for Medicare. This period begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, it includes the month you turn 65 and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.
Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP)
The General Enrollment Period is the time period from January to March 31 of every year when you can enroll in Medicare Part B for the first time.
If you enroll during the General Enrollment Period your Medicare Part A and B coverage will begin on July 1. In most cases, you’ll have to pay a late enrollment penalty.
Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
If you are turning 65 or over 65 and you or your spouse is still working and covered by an employer or union group health plan through your or your spouse’s current or active employment, you can enroll in Medicare Part A and B during the Special Enrollment Period. There is usually no late enrollment penalty.
This is the eight (8) month period from the month you retire or the employer/union group health plan ends to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B. There are other circumstances that will allow you to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B during the Special Enrollment Period.
For additional information, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office. You may also go online at socialsecurity.gov.
|John R. Smith, First Retirees Director, Passes Away
John R. Smith, First Retirees Director, Passes Away
January 16, 2020
John R. Smith, former Retirees Department Director, passed away Jan. 11, at the age of 91. Brother Smith (known by most as “JR”) was the first ever director of the Retirees Department. At the time of his retirement from the APWU on May 7, 2005, Brother Smith had served for 12 years in the position.
Brother Smith began his postal and union career in the early 1960s. In 1964, he was elected president of the Dayton (OH) Local of the National Association of Post Office Mail Handlers (NAPOMH), before becoming president of its state organization in 1965. He was elected state president of the National Postal Union (NPU) in 1969 - an industrial union that included all postal crafts, including mail handlers. After the merger that created the APWU in 1971, Brother Smith was appointed as national vice president of the APWU’s Mail Handler Craft (the Mail Handler Division continued for decades in the APWU).
In 1981, Brother Smith returned to Dayton, and served as the president of Dayton Ohio Area Local for 11 years until his appointment as Retirees Director upon the creation of the department in 1993.
“This has been the most rewarding work,” Smith said when he retired as Retirees Director in 2005. “Helping people to make the most important decisions they have to make in their entire lives ... not only in deciding when to retire, but in helping them make the decisions they will have to make once they have retired.”
“I’m extremely proud of what the Retirees Department has become,” Smith said in his farewell. “When we look at other unions, we’re doing very well in membership numbers. And the contributions our retirees make to the APWU are outstanding. It’s been a great ride.”
Brother Smith’s contributions to labor and civil rights went far beyond just his APWU career. In April 1994, he traveled to South Africa with six other APWU officers as part of an 89-member AFL-CIO delegation to observe the first free and fair election in the country. The delegation observed the polls in the three-day election that resulted in Nelson Mandela winning the Presidency.
“John R. Smith was a man of God with a voice of authority who made a positive difference in so many lives. He believed in family first and was a friend, mentor, advisor counselor, and consultant to many,” said Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard, who joined Smith in the delegation to South Africa in 1994. “When he retired from his position as National Retiree Director, he left me with these words of wisdom: ‘stay in the fight for social justice for we have the power to create a better world.’ John’s union and civil rights work spanned his entire adult life and we will continue to uphold his legacy.”
Brother Smith also cared deeply about his community of Dayton, serving on the city’s Housing Authority Board, Catholic Elementary School Board, Little League Board, and the United Way at Work Committee. He was a Deacon at Corinthian Baptist Church and taught Sunday school.
“To me, JR was a trailblazer. At the time in your life when most people are looking forward to slowing down, JR spent over ten years building the APWU Retirees Department into a resource that would provide life changing information to APWU members and their families,” said Retirees Director Nancy Olumekor. “He encouraged retirees to stay involved in the union by organizing into chapters, to continue to help ourselves, our union and others. JR took risks and succeeded – the Retirees Department is his legacy.”
“On behalf of our entire membership, I offer deep condolences to his family,” President Dimondstein said, “and great appreciation for John R. Smith’s tremendous contributions to the well being of postal and all workers.”
Brother Smith was married for 62 years to Mrs. Ida B. Smith, who passed in Sept. 2014. He is survived by his three adult children – Darryl Smith, Cheryl Brown, and Mark Smith – their spouses, numerous grandchildren, relatives and friends.
|APWU Retirees Still Fighting for Justice
APWU Retirees Still Fighting for Justice
Is 1.6 percent a fair Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Seniors?
It is projected that the average increase in benefits will be $24 and that the average Medicare B premium will increase by $8, with a net COLA of $16 per month for most seniors.
Retirees are short-changed because their COLA is calculated using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) instead of the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). Using CPI-W short-changes the seniors by not considering the spending habits of elders. Elders have higher costs for things such as health care and housing, while urban and clerical workers have higher costs related to expenses such as education, clothing, and transportation.
We must enlist everyone we can to help us stop this unfair calculation. It is incumbent upon retirees to continue to work to achieve a fair COLA, by pushing Congress to pass legislation that will calculate the COLA based on CPI-E. Currently in Congress there are several pending bills that include using the CPI-E to ensure a more accurate adjustment. Beginning in January 2019, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative John Larson (D-CT-1) introduced S. 269 and H.R. 860 the Social Security 2100 Act, which increases benefits and institutes the CPI-E. In February 2019, The Social Security Expansion Act, S. 478 and H.R. 1170, was introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR- 4). The legislation expands Social Security benefits by using CPI-E to calculate a more accurate COLA, as well as other improvements.
The Fair COLA for Seniors Act H.R. 1533 introduced by Representative John Garamendi (D-CA-3) in March 2019, will “provide for cost-of-living increases for certain federal benefits programs based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for the elderly.”
H.R. 2654 was introduced in May 2019 by Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA-38) as the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2019, which also adopts the CPI-E as “the applicable Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers,” along with other improved benefits.
Make an Action Plan
- Make a list of your family, neighbors, friends and other like-minded registered voters and educate to them on the importance of using the CPI-E when calculating the COLA for the elderly.
- Plan a day of action, for CPI-E. That could be writing letters and postcards or making telephone calls to Capitol Hill, 202-224-3121.
- Ask your representatives to cosponsor legislation on CPI-E and to help move the bill along.
- Explain why this legislation is important to you, your family and your community.
- Share your story and your affiliations with other constituency groups such as veterans, church or community organizations, and the union.
- Establish a relationship with your representative and thank them for supporting our issues.
Resources: National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
First, I thank our veterans and all of our active military personnel for their service on behalf of all of us.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the membership of the APWU over the past three years. Thank you for re-electing and continuing to support me in the true spirit of unionism. I extend special thanks to those of you who offered words of encouragement of any kind to me. I cannot do this work without your support!
As I look back over the past three years, I am mindful of all of the friends, families and loved ones APWU members and retirees have lost – many great unionists who built this union and without their great work we would not be here. In closing, I wish each of you Happy Holidays, Good Health and Happiness in the New Year. In Solidarity.
|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: Jan 14, 2021 (10:02:17)