Q. I am a CSRS Offset retiree. I retired last year and have been collecting my retirement check monthly since October 2011. Starting this month, I noticed that my retirement check is being reduced by $975. I called the Office of Personnel Management, and they told me I am at the age for collecting my Social Security offset retirement as part of my CSRS retirement. I explained to them I have elected to keep working for another year or so and will not apply for Social Security. I’ve also been advised by other folks that you cannot collect Social Security at age 62 (I turned 62 on Aug. 25) without some type of reduced calculations if you continue to work: At “age 66 you can work full time and collect your Social Security without penalties.”
I’ve paid into Social Security through my 37 years as an Army reservist (five of which are active years in the 1960s and ’70s). I’ve been collecting a monthly retirement check for that since I turned 60 in August 2010. That check has not been affected since I turned 62.
I have elected to continue to work full time as a government contractor for at least another year or so. Since I am a CSRS Offset retiree, will my retirement still be deducted the reduced amount ($957 monthly) from my CSRS retirement program even though I wish to work? If so, that is not very productive, almost forcing me to retire to collect what is owed to me through CSRS.
A. The law required that your CSRS annuity be reduced at age 62 by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while covered by CSRS Offset.
That reduction was automatic and cannot be appealed. While you could have applied for a Social Security benefit at age 62, you would have been subject to the Social Security earnings limit. That would have reduced your Social Security benefit by $2 for every $3 you earned above the limit. In 2012, that limit is $14,640. In the year you reached your full retirement age, your benefit would be reduced by $1 for every $3 you earned above a different limit, $38,880, in 2012. There wouldn’t be any limit on your earnings beginning with the month in which you reached your full retirement age.