Q: I am a 46-year-old letter carrier with a start date in September of 1990. However, for the first four years, I was a casual (NTE) and a transitional employee (TE). I have been a career employee since August of 1994. Does my NTE or TE time count in any way toward retirement? If I chose to retire now (before I was eligible for full retirement, 56/30 or 60/20), would I be able to retain my health insurance (at the retired employee rate)? Our NALC magazine and the post office website explains briefly the retirement process, but it’s not detailed. Any info on how much I could expect to receive monthly if I retired now would be greatly appreciated. Also, would I have to wait until age 56 years and 2 months to receive any retirement benefits or would they come now? I have $95,000 in my thrift savings account. Would I have to take a 30 percent hit on that if I took that out now upon separation? Or could I draw monthly installments without a penalty?
A: Neither your NTE or TE employment count toward retirement. Because you don’t meet the age and service requirements, you can’t retire now. You could, of course, resign and apply for a deferred annuity. Because you have at least 20 years of service, you could do that at age 60. However, deferred retirees may not re-enroll in the FEHB program. Note: Postal service retirees pay the same FEHB premiums as other federal retirees. They no longer pay the lower premiums enjoyed by Postal Service employees.