WEP and the single status


Q. I am a CSRS retiree of 33 years (I retired in January 2001), and since I am not married, I have no provision for spousal benefits should I die. I have worked part time for my church at 25 hours per week since 1999 and have been paying into the Social Security system from that time to the present. Will I be able to collect Social Security benefits without the WEP penalty? When would I be eligible to collect my benefits? I will be 69 years old in October 2015. How do I determine my benefits?

A. Because you are receiving an annuity from CSRS — a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes — you’ll be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who has fewer than 30 years of “substantial” earning under Social Security. For your earnings to be considered substantial, you’d need to earn far more than you would to earn a year’s Social Security credits. For example, in 2015, you’d only need to earn $4,880 to earn a year’s credit; however, for those earnings to be considered substantial, you’d have to earn $22,050. Too learn more about the WEP and how it might apply to you, read this literature from the Social Security Administration.


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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