Social Security benefit now or later


Q. I retired two years ago from the U.S. Postal Service. I retired with 33 years under my belt — service as civil service offset. I just turned 62 and was surprised when my annuity dropped $900. I didn’t think this would happen until I applied for Social Security. Should I apply for my deceased husband’s benefit, which is less than mine, take my greater benefit, or take less of an amount now and let my Social Security grow until I’m 66?

A. The reduction in your CSRS annuity at age 62 was automatic and required by law, whether or not you applied for a Social Security benefit. The amount by which it was reduced is the amount of Social Security benefit you’d be entitled to if you had applied for it when you reached age 62. In other words, the combination would have been about the same as if your CSRS annuity hadn’t been offset. Whether you want to wait until your full Social Security retirement age to apply for that benefit is up to you. To decide which would be the better option financially would require that you know how long you’re going to live.


About Author

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


  1. The law regarding CSRS Offset is very unfair as it pertains to reducing pension when you DON’T collect Social Security at 62. When I retired I was told that I would lose nothing under the Offset program yet my pension has been reduced by $1300. If I don’t collect Social Security until I turn 66 (as I must continue to work due to pay my mortgage), I will have lost $62,400 in pension income. Why can’t OPM be triggered to set the offset WHEN I receive Social Security instead of punishing me because i need to work? Just doesn’t seem right.

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