'Catch 62' and the WEP

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Q: I am a retiree under the Civil Service Retirement System. I had five years of military time which I did not make the deposit for and 26 years of federal service. I am not eligible for Social Security at this time. I have been told that if I return to work and qualify for Social Security, on my 62nd birthday my annuity will be recomputed and my five years of military service will be removed. Also, I was told my Social Security would be reduced to zero. Is all this true?

A: The post-1956 military service rules are simple: If you haven’t made a deposit for your period of active-duty service, you retire before age 62 and you are eligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62, those years of active-duty service will be eliminated and your annuity recomputed downward. Similarly, if you retire after reaching your 62nd birthday and are eligible for a Social Security benefit at that time, your annuity will be computed without those years of service.

The windfall elimination provision applies to anyone who is receiving an annuity from a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes and has fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. The WEP reduces, but doesn’t eliminate, any Social Security benefit to which you may be entitled.

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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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