Keep working to earn Social Security?


Q: I have 33 years under the Civil Service Retirement System. Prior to that, I was with a private company and completed 32 quarters under Social Security. I will be 70 years old in June. My separation notice under the Base Closure and Realignment Act will be issued in June, and I will have to leave my job by Sept. 15. What are my best options to qualify for Social Security (40 quarters)? I understand there will be offset payments. Should I continue work two more years, finding another job after Sept. 15, and forget Social Security?

A: You can only acquire Social Security credits by earning enough through wages or self-employment to qualify for them. To earn one credit in 2011, you’d need to earn $1,120. If you do become eligible for a benefit, it will be affected by the windfall elimination provision, which reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who receives an annuity from a retirement system, like CSRS, into which he didn’t pay Social Security taxes.


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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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