Q: I can retire at 55 with 32 years under CSRS in the Postal Service. I have worked part time all this time. Last year I was sent what my retirement would be based on retiring at that time. I will only get about $10,000 a year. My husband has been self-employed, but will become a full-time rural carrier after being a substitute for 18 years. He has checked with Social Security, and so far he could receive $2,000 a month. When he becomes a full-time carrier he will be in FERS. I know about the windfall elimination and all, but I would like to know that if he dies before me, how in the world can I survive on $10,000 a year since I won’t get much of his Social Security? How could I survive on my Civil Service alone? Also, I plan on taking self-only health insurance when I retire, and he will take self-only when he gets in. I plan to wait to retire until he is in. I read that it’s against the law to have spouses both carry this insurance. I contacted an official with the APWU and he said I should have switched to FERS or I should quit before I retire and take all my money out so I can get my husband’s full Social Security. This seems like a gamble to me.
A: When you retire, the government pension offset provision of law will reduce any spousal Social Security benefit you are entitled to by $2 for every $3 you receive in your CSRS annuity. The same would be true of any Social Security survivor’s benefit. On the other hand, unless you are entitled to a Social Security benefit based on your own work record, you wouldn’t be subject to the windfall elimination provision.
You must have misunderstood what you read about health benefits coverage. When your husband becomes a FERS employee and is eligible to enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, you can each elect self-only coverage.