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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.

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cost of living increase for retirees

Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuities and Social Security benefits will increase through a 8.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2023. Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) annuities will receive a 7.7 percent COLA. Both COLAs will be reflected in the January 2023 payments.  

Every year COLA is determined by comparing the change in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) based on the average of the third-quarter months of July, August and September. September's CPI-W was 291.854, July's was 292.219, and August's was 291.629, the 2022 third-quarter average is 291.901. This results in a 8.7% increase over the average CPI-W for the third quarter of 2021, which was 268.421. 

Under the current law, COLAs for FERS retirees are reduced and do not protect fully earned annuities from the effects of inflation. Should the annual CPI-W increase 3% or more, FERS COLAs are reduced by 1%. If the CPI-W increase is 2-3%, FERS enrollees receive only a 2% COLA. When the CPI-W increase is under 2%, the COLA matches the price index increase.

Contact your Senator and ask him to support the Equal COLA Act, H.R. 304 which would provide FERS annuitants with a full COLA, equal to the change in consumer prices, regardless of the percentage, as provided to CSRS annuitants and Social Security beneficiaries.  

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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 basically 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 a 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 retire@opm.gov.

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