Q. I have been working for the federal government for the past 33 years under CSRS. Prior to that, I worked in the private sector for well over 10 years, as well as seven years in the evening at a community college while a federal employee.

I plan to retire in another five years, and as I began exploring my retirement opportunities, I called Social Security to determine my eligibility for a Social Security pension. SS determined that I had more than enough quarters paid in and would be eligible for approximately $700 a month under Social Security. However, the SS representative went on to say, I would not be receiving these monies because I was under CSRS.

I am very perplexed about a system that required me to pay into it and then tells me I cannot have access to it because I was employed under CSRS. I began working for the government in 1980. In 1984, when given the option to switch to FERS, I chose to stay with CSRS for no particular reason other than that was what I was used to.

I asked the SS rep what was going to happen to the Social Security monies I had paid and was told it would go into a general fund to be used for other purposes. Is this true? I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that the government required me to pay into a system upon penalty of incarceration, and then tells me I cannot have access to those monies when I retire at 65.

A. You may have misunderstood what you heard from the Social Security representative. While you will be affected by the windfall elimination provision, it will only reduce — not eliminate — your Social Security benefit. To better understand why the law requires this and how it will affect you, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10045.html.


About Author

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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