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.