Substantial earnings


Q. My substantial Social Security earning has been due to serving 38 years as a senior military reservist. I will have 34 years under CSRS in January 2013. However, 25 years were under CSRS before a three-year break in service. I came back as an offset employee in 2006. How will my Social Security be calculated in comparison to my retirement check? Will I still receive my full CSRS retirement check based on my high-3 and the full Social Security check since I meet the substantial rule with the years? How will this all play out? I will be 63 this month.

A. At age 62, if you are retired, your CSRS annuity will be offset by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while covered by CSRS Offset. If you retire at age 62 or later, the offset will occur on the day you retire. In effect, you’ll receive the same amount of money; it will just come from two different places, the Office of Personnel Management and the Social Security Administration. However, any additional Social Security benefit you are entitled to will be affected by the windfall elimination provision if you have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. To find out what constitutes substantial earnings, year by year, go


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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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