Social Security


Q. I retired in 2011 as a CSRS annuitant at age 55 with 32 years of federal service. During those 32 years, I also had a part-time job, where I contributed minimally into Social Security. I have enough SS quarters to get a small amount at some point. Do I have to apply for Social Security, and at what age should I apply if I have to? Will I get more from Social Security if I wait until 70 and will my CSRS annuity be automatically reduced at some age?

A. No, you don’t have to apply for a Social Security benefit. However, because you earned the benefit, it makes sense to do so. When you apply for that benefit is up to you. However, unless you continue to earn Social Security credits, delaying its receipt until you are older isn’t likely to change the amount you’ll get.

While your annuity won’t be affected when you begin receiving a Social Security benefit, the fact that you were covered by CSRS means that it will be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP will reduce but not eliminate your Social Security benefit.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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