Windfall provision caused reduction in Social Security


Q: I worked for the Postal Service for 15 years and resigned, but came back to work for them 13 months later. The year I came back, they were switching over to the Federal Employees Retirement System but I had the choice of FERS or the Civil Service Offset. I chose the offset and retired in 2003 with 35 years of service. I just turned 62, and I applied for Social Security and was told that my check will be adjusted from $865 down to $575 a month because I’m receiving a $2,500 Civil Service Offset annuity. Does this mean my civil service annuity will be offset by $575 next month and my net pay will be $575 less?

A: The reduction in your Social Security benefit appears to be caused by the windfall elimination provision of law. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who is receiving an annuity — in whole or part — from a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes and has fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. In your case, the period where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes was those 15 years under pure Civil Service Retirement System. That said, your CSRS annuity will be reduced by the amount of Social Security benefits you earned while covered by CSRS Offset.


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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

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