Q: I was a civil service employee with DHUD from 1969 to 1978. I withdrew retirement funds at that time and have contributed to Social Security since then. I am 64 and am considering going back to work for a government agency with civil service retirement. Can I buy back into civil service retirement and, if so, how long would I have to work and contribute to CSRS to be eligible to retire with civil service retirement?
A: If you returned to work for the government, you would be placed in CSRS Offset (CSRS and Social Security) with the option of transferring to FERS. On your return, you would get credit for those prior years of service in determining your total service and could redeposit the money you were refunded, plus accrued interest, to get credit for it in your annuity computation. As a CSRS Offset employee, you would have to be employed for one year before you’d be eligible to retire. There isn’t any time limit on FERS employees. As a CSRS offset employee, your CSRS annuity would be offset by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while covered by CSRS Offset. The end result would be the same; the money would simply come from two different places. Note: Going back to work for the government solely for the purpose of becoming eligible to receive an annuity could be seen as deceitful. Your new employer would have had to go through a series of hoops to get you on board only to find you jumping ship without having repaid him for his efforts through honest work.