USPS excessing and severance pay


Q. The Postal Service is moving my job 83 miles away (out of the Office of Personnel Management’s “commuting area” definition). But USPS management is denying any claim for severance pay if anyone turns down these positions. Shouldn’t anyone at my installation who turns down these 1½-hour commuting jobs be entitled to severance pay? My particulars are: 45 years old with 15½ years of creditable FERS service.

A. According to OPM, “A local commuting area is defined in 5 CFR Part 351, Reduction-in-Force, as the geographic area that usually constitutes one are for employment purposes.

“It includes any population centers (or two or more neighboring ones) and the surrounding localities in which people live and reasonably can be expected to travel back and forth daily in their usual employment.”

As you can see, the definition is an elastic one that depends on the circumstances at a specific location. You need to find out how your agency has defined the boundaries of your activity’s “local commuting area” and see if it meets the definition above.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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