Q. I took a reduced Social Security annuity since I decided to draw two years ago at the age of 62. My husband was a government meteorologist for 33 years — three of them being Air Force. We were given the option to pay fully the Social Security for his years in the Air Force. No pension. It counted to his government service and that pension. So we did. $3,600 cash.
He retired at 55. So he took a true reduced government annuity, since he did not retire at 65 with the 33 years of service. In the government, you can retire with 30 years of service and age 55, or fully retire with at least 30 years of service at the age of 65.
He worked as a scientist for Harris Corp. from Aug. 6, 2001, to Oct. 10, 2010. He quit and submitted for partial Social Security. So, he paid into the 401(k) fully, and he paid into Social Security fully for over nine years, which made him eligible for full benefits in Social Security and Medicare. But he quit and took Social Security at the age of 64. His full Social Security would have been at the age of 66. But they penalized him for having an OPM part government annuity. Nearly $650 on a part Social Security. I do not see the legal reason for doing that since he was gainfully employed for over nine years in the private sector and paid in full for Social Security and Medicare while in the private sector. He isn’t pushing it, but I’m thinking of doing some lobbying in D.C., and getting our attorneys to sue for back pay and grant this law unlawful gain of money by the govt. What do you think?
A. Your husband’s Social Security benefit was reduced because it was required by law. The windfall elimination provision reduces the benefit of anyone who receives an annuity, in whole or part, from a retirement system, such as CSRS, where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes. Sue if you want, and lobby to your heart’s content. However, it’s unlikely that you’d be successful in either forum. The National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees, has tried for years to get the WEP eliminated but has had no success. In times like this, when federal employee and retiree benefits are being targeted by members of Congress, it’s less likely than ever that the law will be changed.
P.S. Your statement that “In the government, you can retire with 30 years of service and age 55 or fully retire with at least 30 years of service at the age of 65,” is half right and half wrong. All CSRS employees and those FERS employees who were born before 1948 can fully retire on an immediate, unreduced annuity at age 55. Retiring at age 65 with 30 years of service wouldn’t change the amount of their annuity by one cent.