FERS and Social Security

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Q. I am 66 years old, which is my full retirement age. I worked from 1966 to 1970 for the federal government. I was in CSRS. My credit was three years and 11 months. I stopped working in 1970 to raise a family. I withdrew the money I had paid into CSRS. Between 1970 and 2001, I held a few non-government, small, part-time or intermittent jobs in which I paid into FICA. I returned to work for the Army in December 2001. I was automatically put into FERS, so began paying into FICA and FERS. I have paid back with interest the amount I withdrew from CSRS in 1970. This will give me 16 years and three months of FERS.
I have submitted my retirement packet and applied for my Social Security pension. When I applied for SS, the form asked if I had worked at any time without paying any FICA. I said yes. The next question was “Was it government?” I said yes. Is this going to affect my SS pension? I do not really understand the Offset and Windfall rules.

A. While your Social Security benefit won’t be affected by the government pension offset, it might be affected by the windfall elimination provision. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who has fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security.

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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 fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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