In early January, the Office of Personnel Management sent a voluntary early retirement offer to the United States Postal Service. The USPS will be able to help older employees retire earlier with better financial benefits than they previously would have received with the early retirement buyout package.
The goal of this Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) is to reduce the overall USPS workforce without having to approve a reduction in force (RIF). The USPS wants to keep as many people employed as possible and is looking for options to help people retire early so they aren’t harmed financially by the change.
Knowing what a VERA is and whether you qualify can help you decide whether you should take advantage of this USPS buyout 2018.
What Is a VERA?
Federal agencies that want to reduce their staff must request a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) from the Office of Personnel Management before they can restructure their workforce. Instead of a RIF or employee layoffs, employers send voluntary early retirement offers to eligible employees.
These employees are typically about to retire in a few years, and the OPM lowers the required age to retire and withdraw federal benefits. This allows employees who voluntarily retire to access their benefits and start living off them before they otherwise might have been able to.
The OPM has more detailed explanations on how the early out for clerks and early retirement for mail handlers affect certain benefits like CSRS or FERS, and the professionals at MyFEDBenefits specialize in knowing how to access these funds.
Why Did Congress Issue the USPS Early Out 2018?
The VERA is the result of the USPS trying to balance its 2018 budget. According to Federal News Radio, the USPS ended fiscal 2017 with a $2.7 billion net loss, making it the 11th consecutive year of financial losses. The rise of digital communication, paperless billing options, and private competitors all contribute to the decline in mail volume, but the USPS says the decline is moving faster than they planned.
Between 2016 and 2017, the USPS cut 6,500 jobs (out of an estimated workforce of 600,000 employees). As a whole, this only accounts for 1% of the total workforce, and the USPS is expected to look for additional ways to cut back in 2018.
The VERA also comes as other agencies look to trim their workforce. MyFedBenefits has covered the Trump administration’s goals of eliminating redundancies through reductions in force and making government agencies more efficient as a way to approve tax cuts. This VERA falls in line with the government’s plan to streamline operations and budgets.
A VERA is viewed as a better option for morale than layoffs. VERA employees were typically planning to leave government service soon, and this option expedites the process, as opposed to cutting employees who planned to work for the government for the next several years.
Who Is Eligible to Accept a Voluntary Early Retirement Offer?
VERAs are meant to provide financial incentives for employees who are a few years away from retirement. If you have worked in government for several years and are approaching retirement, this VERA could help you achieve your goals and bridge the gap of the next few years.
A few qualifications to apply for the VERA include:
- Employees must have at least 20 years of government experience and be older than 50, or have 25 years of government experience at any age.
- They must have been employed by the USPS for 31 days before the VERA was issued.
- They must have at least five years of civilian government service as part of their 20 years (i.e. not military service).
- They must work in a position that is covered by the VERA.
- Their removal must not be based on misconduct or unacceptable performance.
Additionally, VERA-eligible employees must submit a workbook along with their paperwork detailing their career. This is one of the more confusing aspects of accepting a voluntary early retirement offer.
Discover How MyFEDBenefits Can Help With Your USPS VERA:
MyFEDBenefits can help mail handlers and clerks complete the USPS VERA 2018 workbook and assemble all of the necessary information for an early retirement.
Most postal workers who meet this criteria received their notices in early January or will receive them soon. Employees who accept a VERA must be retired by March. However, they can choose either January 31st or February 28th as their set retirement date.
Talk to a Specialist to See If You’re Ready for This Early Retirement Buyout Package
If you think you’re eligible to accept a voluntary early retirement offer and want to know if this option is right for your financial situation, contact MyFEDBenefits today to discuss your options. We have benefits specialists across the United States. All of our counseling sessions are free, and our goal is to help you make the best pre- and post-retirement decisions possible.
Additionally, you can call us for help to immediately discuss your options. To schedule your counseling session, call 877-741-1254 and ask for VERA Assistance. Our local knowledge can help you achieve your goals and possibly enjoy an early retirement that’s relaxing and financially stable. Contact us today.