Military buyback and reduced Social Security


Q. I have civil service retirement with the Postal Service. I have been informed that if I do not pay back the Social Security I did not need to pay when I was in my five years of military service, then once I am eligible for Social Security, the payback will start being deducted from that. I thought once that withdrawal started, it would not stop, even after it was paid up. Is this true? And if I pay it back in full now, my Social Security will not be touched for that at all. Is that correct? I am 58, and will be eligible for Social Security at age 62½ due to working all the quarters required.

A. First, let me correct a misunderstanding on your part. Because you served in the military after Dec. 31, 1956, you were required by law to have Social Security deductions taken from your military pay.

Now we can move on to the issue that’s bothering you. By law, any CSRS employee who retires, was given credit for his active-duty service in his annuity computation, did not make a deposit to the retirement fund for that service, and is eligible for a Social Security benefit at age 62 will have those years of service eliminated and his annuity recomputed without them. If he retires at or after reaching age 62, the reduction will occur on the day he retires.

While this “Catch-62” won’t affect the amount of your Social Security benefit, there’s another provision of law that will. The windfall elimination provision reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who is receiving an annuity from a retirement system where he didn’t have Social Security deductions taken from his pay, such as CSRS, and has fewer that 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security.


About Author

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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