CSRS Offset, spouse benefits and Medicare


Q. I am a retired federal employee on CSRS Offset. Law enforcement with mandatory retirement at age 57.  My wife is older than I am and is drawing on her own Social Security. Until I am 62, all of the money is CSRS.  When I turn 62, I will start to draw Social Security and my CSRS annuity will be reduced. Would my wife then be able to draw the spouse one-half amount of my Social Security (or whichever is the larger amount between us), or is there any language in which she would be restricted from my Social Security due to the fact that it is tied to my CSRS amount? She is having to sign up for Medicare because she is 65.  We pay a lot of money for our federal health insurance. They will take $104. This would protect us with the Blue Cross secondary. Do you recommend signing up for Medicare even though it will decrease her benefits with Blue Cross health insurance?

A. The fact that you are a CSRS Offset employee would have no effect on your wife being able to elect the larger of the two Social Security benefits.

As for your second question, it would make no sense for her not to sign up for Medicare Part A because she has already paid for that benefit and won’t have to pay a cent more for it. Whether Part B is worth the expense is a question only the two of you can answer after comparing the benefits and costs. Whether she does or doesn’t, her Federal Employees Health Benefits will be modified. You need to review your plan brochure to see how that will be done.


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.

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