Postal Employee Benefits

Chapter 12: Section 4

Postal employees generally receive the same benefits as other federal employees with certain variations and also may be eligible for various forms of cash and non-cash awards. Detailed policies are in the Employee and Labor Relations Manual at

Retirement—Postal Service career employees are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System, the Civil Service Retirement System or CSRS Offset. CSRS is a defined benefit retirement system in which annuity benefits are based on an employee’s years of service and the average of the highest three consecutive years of salary. CSRS Offset is similar to CSRS but requires Social Security contributions. Upon reaching Social Security eligibility (at age 62 if retired before that age; on retirement if retiring after that age), the CSRS annuity is reduced by any Social Security benefit resulting from periods of CSRS Offset service, to produce a benefit equivalent to what would have been received under CSRS. Under FERS, employees receive retirement benefits from a federal retirement annuity, Social Security and the Thrift Savings Plan (all FERS employees have a TSP account; participation by CSRS and CSRS Offset employees is optional). The FERS annuity benefit, while based on an employee’s high-three average salary and years of service, produces a smaller benefit than CSRS does. See Chapter 3.

Insurance—The Postal Service participates in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. While the employer share of premiums is set by law for most federal employees, the Postal Service share is subject to union bargaining, with the result that postal workers pay a lower amount than others. The higher employer contribution also applies to non-bargaining unit workers but does not apply to postal retirees or survivor beneficiaries. See Chapter 2, Section 1. 

A separate USPS Health Benefits Plan with fixed dollar amount employee contributions is available to city carrier assistants, mail handler assistants, postal support employees (in their initial appointment) and most non-career rural carriers and most non-bargaining non-career employees. Coverage is provided through an insurance company under contract with the Postal Service. Enrollee premiums, which they may pay on a pretax basis, vary among self-only, self plus one and self and family enrollment options. The Postal Service pays the remainder. (Note: Non-career employees are eligible for FEHB with the standard postal employer contribution if they meet certain conditions, including that have completed one year of continuous service and have a predetermined tour of duty.) See

The Postal Service offers life insurance coverage through the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Program. However, while other federal employees must pay part of the cost of FEGLI Basic coverage, the Postal Service pays the entire premium amount for its active employees. Other terms, such as the cost of optional insurance, provisions for changing coverage, and coverage in retirement, are the same as for other federal employees. Also see Chapter 2, Section 2.

Postal employees and retirees are eligible for the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program and the Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program under the same terms applying to non-postal workers and retirees. See Chapter 2, Sections 3 and 4.

Flexible Spending Accounts—Postal employees are eligible for the government-wide flexible spending account program as described in Chapter 1, Section 9. 

Thrift Savings Plan—Postal employees participate in the Thrift Savings Plan on the same terms as other federal employees. See Chapter 6.

Leave—Postal Service employees are provided both sick and annual leave at the same rate as other federal employees as described in Chapter 5, Section 1, except that non-executive, non-bargaining career employees and non-career employees hired in October 2012 or later receive 10, 15, or 20 days of annual leave depending on years of service rather than 13, 20 and 26, respectively. 

Postal employees have a higher annual leave carryover limit. The maximum carryover for bargaining unit employees is 440 hours. They can receive a terminal leave payment for accumulated annual leave carried over from the previous year and accrued annual leave for the year in which they separate, up to the carryover maximum for their bargaining unit. The maximum carryover for Executive and Administrative Schedule mployees is 560 hours. They can receive a terminal leave payment for accumulated annual leave carried over from the previous year plus accrued annual leave for the year in which they separate.

Earned annual leave may be donated to other career or transitional Postal Service employees who have exhausted their own leave and have a serious health problem. 

Note: Some bargaining agreements provide a leave exchange program for covered full-time and part-time regular employees; this also applies to most non-bargaining unit career employees. Under this program, these employees may exchange a certain amount of unused annual leave for cash. See Lump Sum Payments in Chapter 5, Section 1.

Postal employees are covered by the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave within a Postal Service leave year for the following: birth or adoption of a child, taking in a child for foster care, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or dealing with the employee’s own serious health condition. Time taken for family and medical leave can be taken as annual leave, sick leave, leave without pay or a combination. Also see Family and Medical Leave Act in Chapter 5, Section 4.

Holidays—The Postal Service observes the designated federal holidays; see Holidays in Chapter 5, Section 1. 

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