Windfall elimination


Q: My husband started receiving his CSRS federal annuity in 2005 at age 55 after 35 years as a federal employee. He now also receives a small military pension. He is 60. He has plenty of quarters of Social Security, and still works and contributes to Social Security. What is meant by 30 quarters of substantial earnings? How do we know if he fits that definition? Also, if he chooses to delay applying for Social Security but instead opts for my Social Security spousal benefit (I will be eligible in seven years with plenty of quarters but no federal service), will he still be affected by WEP?

A: The windfall elimination provision applies to the Social Security benefit of anyone who receives an annuity – in whole or part – from a retirement system such as CSRS, where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes and has fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. To find out what constitutes substantial earnings for any year, go to


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