POSTAL SERVICE health BENEFIT PLAN (pshb)
A new PSHB will take affect in January 2025. Most Postal Service annuitants and their eligible family members who are entitled to Medicare Part A will be eligible to enroll in Medicare Part B during a six-month special enrollment period (SEP) starting April 1, 2024. This six-month period permits annuitants who did not sign up for Part B at the age of 65 to do so penalty-free. Individuals who qualify for the SEP will receive a separate notification prior to April 1, 2024, as required by the PSRA. Annuitants and their family members who are entitled to Medicare Part A must enroll in Medicare Part B to be eligible to continue PSHB coverage. Current annuitants will not be required to enroll in Medicare Part B if they chose to stay out. Some other very limited exceptions will apply.
2024 social security COLA increase
Retirees, and those collecting Social Security: The 2024 Social Security COLA has been set to increase 3.2% for CSRS, and 2.2% for FERS annuitants. This is much lower than 2023's massive 8.7% & 7.7% increase which was a 40-year high for Social Security COLA. Social Security announced this increase on October 12. Starting in January your monthly Social Security check will increase by these percentages (depending on CSRS or FERS) which will help to keep up with the rising prices. Gas and groceries tend to be the most noticeable increases. Inflation has calmed down some in the last 12 months which is why the COLA increase is lower for 2024.
Social Security benefits have been annually adjusted for inflation since 1975. The two largest increases that have occurred were in 2022 (5.9% & 4.9%) and 2023 (8.7% & 7.7%) since the early 1980s. The average increase for 2022 was $92 per month and $146 per month for 2023. This upcoming year's increase (2024) will increase monthly benefits an average of $59 per month for CSRS and $41 for FERS annuitants.
When FERS was originally set up in 1986 and became effective in January of 1987, a provision was included should COLA be more than 3%, then FERS recipients would receive 1% less than full COLA if it is over the 3% threshold. FERS annuitants could receive, over a period of time, thousands of dollars less because of the 3% threshold, especially in we have a lot of high inflation years. Representative Gerald Connolly from Virginia is the sponsor of "H.R. 866 Equal Cola Act". This bill addresses that issue. Contact your Representatives to encourage them so support this bill.
Unfortunately, Medicare Part B monthly premiums are set to increase also. This COLA will be offset in part by the premium increase. (Medicare Part B covers outpatient services such as doctor visits.) Most Medicare enrollees have their premiums deducted directly from their Social Security payments, so if you do, you will not see the full amount of the adjustment in your check but it will be offsetting the Medicare Part B premium increase.
Medicare's Average 2024 Changes:
PART A: Usual Premium - $0 (No Change); Inpatient hospital deductible - $1632 (Up $32); Coinsurance for 61st to 90th day - $408 (Up $8)
PART B: Basic Monthly Premium - $174.70 (Up $9.80); Income threshold for higher payments, individual tax return - $103,000 (Up $6,000); Income threshold for higher payments, joint tax return - $206,000 (Up $$12,000)
PART C: Medicare Advantage, Average Premium - $18.50 (Up $.64)
PART D: Average Premium - $55.50 (Down $.99)
FERS ANNUITY SUPPLEMENT
The special retirement supplement is unique to FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System). This supplement substitutes for the Social Security part of your FERS benefit until you reach the age of 62, which is when most people become eligible for Social Security benefits.
This supplement is to provide an income that is similar to that which you would receive at the age of 62. This supplement will stop the month before you turn 62.
WHAT IS A "csa NUMBER"
The CSA number is a number that federal retirees receive when they are provided an annuity at the time of retirement. CSA is an acronym for Civil Service Annuity. The old Civil Service Administration became the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in 1979. The CSA number is the number that the OPM uses to identify the retiree and his/her retirement and benefits. It is sometimes referred to as a claim number by OPM. You can basically think of it as your EIN number prior to retiring. It is an eight-digit number with a "0" as the eighth digit.
You can find your CSA number in several places.
1. OPM will issue you a "Retirement Services Reference Card" after you have retired. It is a small card that looks similar to your social security card. The eight digit number can be found on this card.
2. Additionally, you can find this number on your 1099R form which will be sent to you in January. The 1099R form reports your annuity payments for the previous year to the IRS (much like the W2 reported your earnings while you were employed). You will use the 1099R to file your income tax. The CSA number will be listed under "Account Number" or "Retirement Claim Number".
3. Every year OPM will send out a "Notice of Annuity Adjustment". This notice is sent to all retirees and will indicate the amount your annuity will be for the upcoming year. This new amount will include the cost of living adjustment (COLA), if any. Even in years when there is no COLA, you will still receive the notice. You will find your CSA number on this notice also.
4. The CSA number is also listed in the top-right area of the "Welcome Letter" the annuitant received shortly after OPM received the retirement packet from the USPS.
Upon the death of the retiree, the surviving spouse should notify OPM and file for a survivor annuity. OPM will issue the widow/widower their own number and it is referred to as a CSF number. This CSF number will be a seven digit number followed by a "W". The surviving spouse will receive a "Retirement Services Reference Card" just as the retiree had received, but it will have the new CSF number on it. The surviving spouse will also receive a 1099R and a "Notice of Annuity Adjustment" each year just as the retiree had received them.
Establishing an online account is the best way to handle your information with OPM. You can do so at "www.opm.gov/retire". There are benefits to an online account such as changing your deductions, changing your mailing address, you're able to change your banking information, print your tax form, etc. Should you choose not to have an online account, you can call OPM between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern time at 1-888-767-6738; however, the wait time is usually extremely long. Additionally, you can email OPM at firstname.lastname@example.org.