Q. I will be 63 this month. I worked at the Postal Service from 1969 to 1981 as a letter carrier. I took the CSRS money out when I left in 1981. I worked in the private sector from 1981 to 1989. I came back to USPS in 1989, paid back the CSRS money and am now in CSRS offset.
I have about 37 years in USPS and plan to work here another three years. Where can I find some info to help me decide whether to retire from USPS now and work in private sector or keep working at USPS?
A. The only info I can give you is about what your benefits would be if you retired now. With 37 years of service, your CSRS annuity would be 70.25 percent of your high-3. However, because you are a CSRS Offset employee who would be retiring at or after age 62, your CSRS annuity would be automatically reduced by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a CSRS Offset employee. The amount you received would be the same; it would just come from two different places, the Office of Personnel Management and the Social Security Administration. You could, if you wished, apply for a Social Security benefit at that time, which would give you credit for all of your Social Security-covered employed. Because you would have over 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, you wouldn’t be subject to the windfall elimination provision.
On the other hand, if you went to work in the private sector after you retired, you’d be subject to the Social Security earnings test. If you had earnings from wages or self-employment that exceeded the annual limit, your Social Security benefit would be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earned above that limit. In 2013, the limit is $15,120. In the year you reached you full Social Security retirement age, the reduction would be $1 for every $3. In the month you reached your full retirement age, there would no longer be a limit to what you could earn.