Postal Service work and Social Security

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Q. I am 62 and a U.S. Postal Service retiree. I retired five years ago after 38 years of service. I receive a CSRS pension. During the time I worked at the Post Office, I also worked some part-time jobs, for which I contributed to Social Security. After I retired, I continued to work these part-time jobs, trying to get enough quarters to be able to collect a small Social Security pension when I reached age 62. In April, I turned 62 and applied for Social Security. The Social Security representative told me that I was eligible to collect $184 a month, but because I had worked for the Post Office and was collecting a federal pension, my Social Security pension would be reduced. He said under the windfall elimination provision, my Social Security pension would be reduced from $184 to $80 a month. That’s a reduction of $104 . I was aware of the WEP, but I never thought I would receive such a large reduction! I filed an appeal in April, but I have not received an answer yet. I called them, but I was told they have up to four months to rule on my appeal. I’m still waiting. I just don’t think they’re being fair. Am I wrong to feel like I’m being punished because I worked for the Post Office? I busted my tail working these part-time jobs to qualify for $184 a month, and I know I should receive a reduction, but not $104.

A. If you had fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, you’d be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The fewer years of covered service you have, the greater the decrease in your Social Security benefit will be. The reduction is effected by reducing the first multiplier in the Social Security benefit formula. If your have 30 or more years, that multiplier is 90 percent. If you have 20 or fewer years, the multiplier is reduced to 40 percent. To better understand the WEP, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10045.pdf.

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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.

11 Comments

  1. I am in the same boat, 62 years old and retired under CSRS. I have paid into SS for years before the USPS but only about 8 quarters short of receiving SS. I am thinking about getting a part time job paying into SS to get a little SS when I quit that job. I have found out in the state I live in, had I never worked a day in my life, I would now be receiving twice what my USPS retirement is right now. So working even more, being taxed even more, collecting much less SS is just plain discrimination. I am being punished for working for a living.

    • Assuming that you meant that you “retired” from the USPS, the answer is yes. However, as a rule, your salary would be reduced by the amount of your annuity.

  2. I worked for the Post Office in Colorado for 6 1/2 years, from August of 1974 to January of 1981. In ’81 I moved to another state and became an insurance agent.

    I do not remember if I was able to move my retirement account or not. If there was a chunk of $$ they gave me I think I would remember.

    If not, I am now 67, collecting SS and wondering if there is some money waiting for me at the Post Office I should check into. What do you think? And if so is there a contact #?

    Thank you.

    • To find out if you are eligible for a retirement benefit, you’ll have to download a copy of Standard Form 2801 (CSRS) or OPM Form 1496A (FERS). Both forms are available at http://www.opm.gov/forms. Fill out the form that applies to your retirement system and send it to OPM. The address is on the form. OPM will get back to you with an answer.

  3. How can you find out if you are eligible to draw from a spouse that paid into Civil Service Retirement System…I am 67 and since my ex didn’t pay Social Security at the time I was told that of course I couldn’t draw any Social Security…We where married a total of 14 years but did get a divorce and remarried and we had a son but we spent 14 years together..He worked for the Postal Service for 35 years and his other 2 wives are deceased…I was told years ago by a man that worked for the Postal Service paying under this same plan that I could draw something off of him.

    • If your divorce decree didn’t include a provision entitling you to a portion of his annuity and/or a survivor annuity, you wouldn’t be entitled to anything.

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