Windfall elimination provision

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Q. I worked 30 years under CSRS and when the judge for whom I worked retired, our office was “abolished,” and the law clerk and I lost our jobs. I then worked in the civilian sector for six years. I returned to federal court under CSRS Offset for 1½ years. Because of part-time jobs and the six years I worked in the civilian sector, I was eligible for Social Security. I retired after 31½ years of CSRS and the necessary quarters for SS.

When SS sent projections before I turned 62, it indicated I would receive about $700 a month in SS. However, at age 62, when I applied for SS, I was penalized 25 percent because of age and another 40 percent due to CSRS retirement. Now I get about $400 a month and $97 deducted for Medicare. Since I qualified for my 40 quarters of SS, please explain what is fair about my being penalized 40 percent because of government retirement.

A. You are subject to the government pension offset provision of law, which reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who receives an annuity, in whole or part, from a retirement system, such as CSRS, where he or she didn’t pay Social Security taxes and has fewer that 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security.

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