Q. Eight years ago, I retired under CSRS with 21 years of service as an air traffic controller. Prior to my controller years, I earned three years of Social Security credits and served seven years in the military. Since retiring I have worked full time at a good salary and my Social Security statement says I have earned enough credits to qualify for benefits, but I think I’m subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision. Assuming that is true, if I don’t elect to receive Social Security at age 62 and wait until my full retirement age of 66 to receive it, will my OPM pension check be reduced when I turn 62? And if so, by how much?
And, if my pension check is reduced, would I be better off signing up for Social Security benefits starting at age 62 rather than waiting until 66 or 70, given the WEP reduction?
A. Since you are a pure CSRS retiree, your annuity won’t be affected. CSRS Offset retirees are the only ones whose annuity is automatically reduced at age 62. That reduction mirrors the Social Security benefit they earned while covered by CSRS Offset. If you apply for a Social Security benefit while you are still working, that benefit will be subject to the Social Security earnings test, which would effectively eliminate it. When you do retire again and apply for a Social Security benefit, you will be affected by the windfall elimination provision. It reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who is receiving an annuity from a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes, such as CSRS, and has fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security.