Social Security credit after CSRS contribution refund


Q. I am currently a 29+ year federal employee with the Department of Transportation who worked for the Department of the Navy, Military Sealift Command in Washington, D.C., from May 1980 until November 1984.  I then left the government for 14 months and returned to a different agency within the Department of the Navy in January 1986.  I was under the CSRS during the 4 1/2 years I worked for Military Sealift Command.

Because I had less than five years under CSRS, and had a break in service over one year, I requested and received a refund of excess CSRS contributions for those 4 1/2 years from OPM after I transferred into FERS during open season in June 1998.  The refund was equal to the difference between my CSRS contributions (7 percent) and the FERS contribution rate (1.3 percent), which was the same as the Social Security rate I would have paid into during those 4 1/2 years, had I not been paying into CSRS.

OPM sent me an excess deductions refund check but withheld 1.3 percent, which equals $1,621.08 spread between 1980 and 1984.  As of my most recent Social Security statement, this money has not been transferred to the Social Security Administration (and credited to my account).  I asked OPM why the money was not credited to my account and was told that they do not send any money to the SSA when an individual takes a refund of their excess contributions and that the employing agency is the one that submits money to the SSA.

I am concerned that having zeros on my SSA statement for the years 1980-1984 will subject me to reduced Social Security benefits when it comes time to retire.  I am eligible to retire in July 2011 and would like to resolve this before then.

A. You’ll have to start by checking with the payroll office at the Military Sealift Command. If the issue isn’t resolved at that level, you’ll have to pursue it up the chain.


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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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