CSRS Offset and Spousal Benefits


Q. I am a CSRS Offset employee. I worked full time with the Defense Department under CSRS from 1976 to 1984 and took my retirement with me when I left. That $6,100 has grown to over $33,000 that I will NOT be paying back. I have worked from 1995 until now (July 2011) in a permanent part-time position with the Labor Department. I am 56 years old with 24 years of service (eight not paid back and16 part-time) and am eligible for an early retirement currently being offered. I think that I will be hit with the CSRS Offset and also the windfall elimination provision since I don’t have 30 years of substantial earnings. I checked on working until age 60 and it would add only $114 a month to my annuity. Also, there is the possibility of this job no longer being available in this town and I don’t want to relocate for a part-time job.
My spouse is not Civil Service, is still working, and is eight years older than me. Retiring and being able to keep insurance benefits is important. Will I be able to get spousal benefits from Social Security when I turn 62 and will they affect my annuity? At this point, I would get more from spousal benefits at 62 than from my annuity. Does retiring CSRS Offset affect spousal benefits? Working part time never gave me a good “high three.”

A. If you retire, at age 62 your CSRS annuity will be offset by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a CSRS Offset employee. If your husband is still working, you wouldn’t be eligible for a spousal Social Security benefit, You could receive that only when he applies for his own Social Security benefit. At that point, you’d receive the larger of the two Social Security benefits, your earned benefit or a spousal benefit based on his benefit.


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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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