WEP and reserve time


Q.  I retired from CSRS in 1999.  Since then (2000-2011) I have had 12 years of “substantive earnings” under Social Security.  I was also a commissioned officer in the Air Force Reserve and served from 1976 to 2006.  During those 23 years that I was a civil servant and a reservist I earned military pay when I went on active duty.  In the years I was not mobilized or deployed I only served on active duty for two weeks plus 12 weekends.  I received Social Security credit for all of my active-duty service as a reservist.  However, for many of those years the amount of money I earned as a reservist did not meet the threshold for “substantial earnings” under WEP.  In fact, only four of those 23 years meet the criteria for “substantial earnings.”

Were I to retire today, I would therefore only have 16 years of “substantial earnings” (four while a government civilian/reservist and 12 since retiring) and would thus be subject to the full penalty of WEP.  It does not seem right or fair that the WEP would penalize those of us who retired under CSRS and also chose to serve our country as reservists.  Are there any provisions in the WEP statutes that would allow me to count those many years as a reservist that do not meet the “substantial earnings” threshold?

A.  No. The law applies to everyone who receives an annuity from a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes, such as CSRS, and has fewer that 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security.


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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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