Refund on buyback?


Q. Worked 33 years for the U.S. Postal Service under Civil Service Retirement System and four years in the Marine Corps. Back in the 1970s, I bought back my USMC time so I could draw both Social Security and civil service retirements as I worked two jobs. Now, with offset in place, I cannot draw Social Security due to USPS retirement. Can I get a refund for my buyback payment since I will never draw Social Security?

A. As a CSRS employee, there wouldn’t be an “offset” that would cancel any Social Security benefit to which you might be entitled. Instead, you’d be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP reduces — but doesn’t eliminate — that Social Security benefit. As for getting a refund of the deposit you made for your active-duty service, you can’t unless you resign from the government before being eligible to retire and ask for a refund of all your retirement contributions.


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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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