Q: I working for the federal government in September 2010 at the GS 13 level after ending a 30-year career in state government in which I paid no Social Security taxes. I have accumulated approximately 30 quarters of Social Security credits over the years. Most of these credits were earned at low-paying jobs during my high school and college years. Will I be eligible for any Social Security benefit after I reach 40 quarters of credit? Do the provisions of both the GPO and WEP apply to my circumstances?

A: Because you are a FERS-covered employee, Social Security taxes are being taken out of your pay. As a result, it will take less than three years before you will have 40 credits and have met the basic requirement for a Social Security benefit. If you eventually receive an annuity from your career in state government, you will be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP will reduce your Social Security benefit if you receive an annuity in whole or part from a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes. The government pension offset follows the same rules for any spousal or survivor Social Security benefits 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

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