Windfall provision age snapshot


Q. I have been told that Social Security looks at your federal retirement at age 62 only and only once. Is this true and does it look at it on your birthday to determine if you are eligible for benefits. At 62, I will fall short of being eligible by six quarters. If it only looks at my file on my birthday, I would wait a few months and go back to work.


A. Let’s begin at the beginning for those who may not know what you’re asking about. Any employee who is covered by a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes, such as CSRS, and has performed active duty service after Dec. 31, 1955, for which he hasn’t made a deposit will be subject to what is popularly called “catch 62.” Here’s how it works. If you retire before age 62 and are eligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62, those years of active-duty service will be removed and your annuity recomputed without them. If you retire at age 62 or later and are eligible for a Social Security benefit at that time, the reduction will occur on the day you retire.


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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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