Social Security and Postal Service retirement


Q. My father is 68 years old, has accrued over 30 years as a Postal Service letter carrier and looking to retire in a couple of months. He is also an Army veteran. Unfortunately, he does not have a firm grasp on retirement options (evidently his pension is available), but he was told that he had not accrued enough Social Security quarters to get retirement payment via the latter method. Is this possible after 30+ years of employment as a letter carrier?

A. Because your father is a CSRS employee, he didn’t have Social Security deductions taken from his pay. As a result, he didn’t earn any Social Security credits when he worked for the Postal Service. He would have earned credits when he was in the armed forces and from other nongovernment employment. Apparently, that didn’t add up to the 10 years (40 quarters) needed to make him eligible for a Social Security benefit. If, after he retires, he has earnings from wages or self-employment that are sufficient to earn him enough additional quarters, he could apply for a Social Security benefit at that time. Just be aware that if he qualifies for a Social Security benefit, that benefit will be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone, like your father, who is receiving an annuity from a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes and has fewer than 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

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