WARNING! Voluntary Early Retirement has Potential Side Effects

The Voluntary Early Retirement (VERA) recently announced by the Postal Service has generated many questions from the members of the APWU. The Postal Service published a list of 93 questions and answers shared with our members in an earlier Web article.

Many are asking, “Should I accept early-out retirement?” It is not the place of the national APWU to give advice on whether to retire or not. That is a personal decision. However, it is decision with implications that members should know and consider.

USPS management did not discuss the VERA with the APWU in advance of the announcement. APWU national officers initiated a January 10 meeting with postal management to address issues and concerns about the VERA. In this meeting, the union pressed its views that:

1) the Postal Service is not overstaffed, and service to the public is suffering due to understaffing; and,
2) if the Postal Service moves forward with misguided plans to reduce the workforce, the Postal Service should offer a monetary incentive for those eligible for regular retirement as well employees eligible for an early-out.

Incentives have been offered numerous times in the past for both bargaining unit and supervisory employees.

If you are eligible for the VERA you will receive a packet in the mail from the USPS. The packet will have vital information about your opportunity for an early-out. The packet will include your annuity estimate (this is not a guarantee of what your annuity payments will be; OPM makes the
final determination of your annuity and it could be different than the estimated amount provided in your packet) and information about available benefits including eligibility, limits, and costs. Anyone considering the early-out offer needs to study the packet.

You are eligible for USPS-sponsored retirement counseling – both group and individual. Information on who to contact and how to arrange counseling will be in the packet. The packet along with your counseling session(s) will explain eligibility for any annuity supplement, your
health insurance premiums, how your FEGLI life insurance can change, and other issues. According to a settlement agreement with APWU, local management must arrange reasonably private space for employees who wish to receive individual counseling on the clock. Your spouse can participate in the counseling session(s). Take advantage of every opportunity to learn the specifics about your retirement benefits.

Some points to consider when making your decision:
• As of now there is no financial incentive to retire early, unlike the 2009 and 2012 VERAs where incentives were negotiated with the APWU.
• In its August 22, 2017 request to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for VERA approval, the Postal Service said that 10,522 APWU represented employees will shortly be “impacted” by “differing personnel actions” and “repositioning initiatives.”
• The Postal Service estimates that only 1,712 of the 10,522 APWU represented employees will accept the VERA.
• Those who apply for the early-out will see financial/income impacts, including:

  • If you are an employee covered by CSRS you will have your annuity reduced by 2% for each year you are under age 55.
  • If you are covered by FERS you will only earn 1% of your salary as an annuity for each year worked (e.g. if you worked 20 years, your annuity will be 20% of your high-3 average salary).
  • If you are under the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) you will not receive the Social Security Supplement until you reach the MRA. Find your MRA using this OPM Chart. FERS is a three-legged stool: a modest annuity, social security, and retirement savings in TSP. When you reach the normal minimum retirement age (MRA); but are not yet eligible for social security, you get an “annuity supplement” to provide that social security leg. For example, if you are age 50 and your MRA is 57 you will not receive the supplement until you turn age 57 and the supplement will end at age 62 when you can start receiving social security payments.
  • You will not receive Cost of Living Allowances (COLAs) on your annuity until you reach MRA.
  • With an early retirement you can’t make additional contributions to TSP or receive employer contributions as you would with continued employment.
  • TSP withdrawal restrictions are not eased for those accepting a VERA.
  • Your life insurance coverage (FEGLI) may change. The amounts of coverage may decrease and the costs (if you continue coverage) will likely rise.
  • Your health insurance premiums will increase if you currently are covered by the Consumer Driven APWU health plan.

Make your decision on complete and accurate information about your retirement benefits. APWU will continue to share important information on the VERA and will share any new information that comes to light.

USPS Announces Voluntary Early Out Retirement (VERA): Part 2

This is a very important process/decision if you are considering this as a life option. You want to be informed as much as possible in order to make the right decision for you and your family.

Part 1 of this information contained external links with additional and ‘how-to’ information, for anybody interested. Here in Part 2, you are provided additional and downloadable information directly from here!

Included in this article are:

  1. USPS Organizational Changes as per their LiteBlue website.
  2. An overview for the Clerk and Mailhandler crafts as per their LiteBlue website.
  3.  A Timeline that details deadlines.
  4. A general explanation of what VERA is.
  5. A very informative Q&A document.
  6. A generic copy of the VER(A) package from HRSCC.

This information is to better inform you and keep you aware. Also, check the National APWU website out to keep up on what’s going on. A direct link is provided for you in the side bar or go to: http://www.apwu.org



USPS Announces Voluntary Early Out Retirement (VERA): Part 1

(This article was first reported on January 4, 2018 on the National website Web News Article #: 2-2018)

On January 4, 2018, the APWU was notified by letter that the USPS is offering voluntary early out retirement (VERA) for eligible clerk craft employees.

This letter was received with no advance notification to the union or negotiations with the APWU over who the VERA applied to and under what conditions.

The APWU immediately initiated information requests to USPS management regarding this VERA and demands for bargaining over its scope and impact.

“It is concerning that employees who are now faced with such a serious consideration regarding their work and retirement future, have not been given sufficient advance notification and needed information,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “Such a life changing and irrevocable decision should not be forced to be made in a rush due to management’s lack of consideration.”

Click here for the 2018 VERA Questions and Answers, provided by the USPS.

Click here for the 2018 VERA “Steps At-a-Glance,” provided by the USPS.

The APWU will provide further information and education material as it becomes available.

Retirement Counseling

The decision to retire is among the most important you will ever make. Employees contemplating retirement are eligible for retirement counseling and should take advantage of the opportunity. The APWU encourages you to consider the decision carefully and urge you to participate in USPS-sponsored counseling so you can make an informed decision. Employees requesting additional help after a group session will be accommodated on an individual basis. In accordance with a 2009 pre-arbitration settlement, local management must arrange reasonably private space for employees who wish to receive individual counseling on the clock.

Right below, is the letter APWU National received.

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Mike Gallagher, our Local MBA, provides us with this information:

The Postal Service will extend voluntary early retirement (VER) offers to eligible mail handlers and clerks, beginning Jan. 8. The offers will contain three retirement-effective dates from which eligible employees may choose: Jan. 31, Feb. 28 and March 31.

While USPS has been taking aggressive steps to cut costs and increase efficiencies, additional operational changes are necessary. The Postal Service is exercising the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) delegated to it by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. This VERA action is part of ongoing efforts to rightsize the Postal Service’s workforce and reposition its network through attrition to match current workloads.

Employees who accept the offers will be able to retire before they reach the standard requirements for age and years of service.

Eligible employees will receive their offer letters and annuity estimates at their addresses of record. Employees can change or update their addresses on LiteBlue.

Eligible employees who decide to accept an early-retirement offer can apply by completing and submitting the required documents by the deadline specified in their offer letters. For eligible employees who decide not to accept the offer, no response is required.

The Postal Service is not offering separation incentives to accept the early-retirement offer.

The Voluntary Early Retirement LiteBlue page has general information about VER offers. Employees who have questions can email the Organizational Change mailbox.

Here is some information from the OIG on incentives since 2010.

History of Separation Incentives

Table 1: U.S. Postal Service Separation Incentives Offered to Employees (Fiscal Years 2010–2013)

Fiscal Year Initiated Employees Affected Monetary Incentive per Employee Number of Employees Total One Time Expense
2010 APWU Members and Mail Handlers $15,000 20,800 $312 million
2011 Administrative






$41.1 million

$3.8 million

2012 Postmasters

Mail Handlers





$83.8 million

$45.4 million

2013 APWU Members $15,000 22,609 $339.1 million
Total 52,870 $825.2 million

On June 27, 2014, the Postal Service announced a $10,000 separation incentive for 3,817 postmasters affected by the POStPlan. As of September 30, 2014, 1,380 employees had accepted the incentive. USPS estimates the cost of this incentive to be approximately $14 million.

Source: 11/13/2014 GAO USPS – Status of Workforce Reductions and Related Planning Efforts (original source: USPS. | GAO-15-43)