Postal Service work and Social Security


Q. I am 62 and a U.S. Postal Service retiree. I retired five years ago after 38 years of service. I receive a CSRS pension. During the time I worked at the Post Office, I also worked some part-time jobs, for which I contributed to Social Security. After I retired, I continued to work these part-time jobs, trying to get enough quarters to be able to collect a small Social Security pension when I reached age 62. In April, I turned 62 and applied for Social Security. The Social Security representative told me that I was eligible to collect $184 a month, but because I had worked for the Post Office and was collecting a federal pension, my Social Security pension would be reduced. He said under the windfall elimination provision, my Social Security pension would be reduced from $184 to $80 a month. That’s a reduction of $104 . I was aware of the WEP, but I never thought I would receive such a large reduction! I filed an appeal in April, but I have not received an answer yet. I called them, but I was told they have up to four months to rule on my appeal. I’m still waiting. I just don’t think they’re being fair. Am I wrong to feel like I’m being punished because I worked for the Post Office? I busted my tail working these part-time jobs to qualify for $184 a month, and I know I should receive a reduction, but not $104.

A. If you had fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, you’d be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The fewer years of covered service you have, the greater the decrease in your Social Security benefit will be. The reduction is effected by reducing the first multiplier in the Social Security benefit formula. If your have 30 or more years, that multiplier is 90 percent. If you have 20 or fewer years, the multiplier is reduced to 40 percent. To better understand the WEP, go to


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to


  1. I am in the same boat, 62 years old and retired under CSRS. I have paid into SS for years before the USPS but only about 8 quarters short of receiving SS. I am thinking about getting a part time job paying into SS to get a little SS when I quit that job. I have found out in the state I live in, had I never worked a day in my life, I would now be receiving twice what my USPS retirement is right now. So working even more, being taxed even more, collecting much less SS is just plain discrimination. I am being punished for working for a living.

    • It’s highly unlikely that a person who never worked would receive a benefit equal to 56 percent of the high-3 salary you would have received if you retired with 30 years of service. And impossible that such a person would receive twice that amount.

      • I worked for 24 years and had to stop working bc of my heart attack. I understand my life ins and health ins will be taken out of my final settlement. I have no idea how much I will receive and how much my $327 interim payment will increase. I ask the personnel management place but they don’t tell me anything. Do you know about how I figure it out? Also ive been receiving $1200 a month for a year from Disability from Social Security. Thank You.

        • A few questions. Did you take regular retirement or are you a disability annuitant? In either case, did you retire before you were approved for Social Security disability benefits? Lastly, what do you mean by “final settlement”?

    • Assuming that you meant that you “retired” from the USPS, the answer is yes. However, as a rule, your salary would be reduced by the amount of your annuity.

  2. I worked for the Post Office in Colorado for 6 1/2 years, from August of 1974 to January of 1981. In ’81 I moved to another state and became an insurance agent.

    I do not remember if I was able to move my retirement account or not. If there was a chunk of $$ they gave me I think I would remember.

    If not, I am now 67, collecting SS and wondering if there is some money waiting for me at the Post Office I should check into. What do you think? And if so is there a contact #?

    Thank you.

    • To find out if you are eligible for a retirement benefit, you’ll have to download a copy of Standard Form 2801 (CSRS) or OPM Form 1496A (FERS). Both forms are available at Fill out the form that applies to your retirement system and send it to OPM. The address is on the form. OPM will get back to you with an answer.

    • You can probably get a copy of it from your state’s public records dept. You could do an online search for your state name and “divorce records.” As far as OPM giving him half your annuity, he would only be entitled to that if your Divorce specified he was to receive part of your Federal Retirement (FERS or CSRS), and that order met OPM’s specifications and was properly filed with OPM. When you file for retirement, there is a question asking if you have a former spouse entitled to part of your Retirement Annuity. I would answer No unless you know for certain. You would also need a copy of the Court Order at that time.

  3. How can you find out if you are eligible to draw from a spouse that paid into Civil Service Retirement System…I am 67 and since my ex didn’t pay Social Security at the time I was told that of course I couldn’t draw any Social Security…We where married a total of 14 years but did get a divorce and remarried and we had a son but we spent 14 years together..He worked for the Postal Service for 35 years and his other 2 wives are deceased…I was told years ago by a man that worked for the Postal Service paying under this same plan that I could draw something off of him.

    • If your divorce decree didn’t include a provision entitling you to a portion of his annuity and/or a survivor annuity, you wouldn’t be entitled to anything.

  4. If anyone has answer to our situation please respond:
    Our Dad retired early from the Post Office in 1990 due to his mental condition. He is a Korean War Vet and after years of waiting was finally diagnosed by the VA in 2015 as 70% PTSD service-related disabled.
    We recently filed for an increase for him for PTSD and for Individual Unemployability
    The VA sent us a form 21-4192 “Request For Employment In Connection with Claim for Disability Benefits” that we are supposed to have filled out by the Post Office. ( as his last and only employer)

    We have no idea where to send this form. It’s been 20+ years since he separated from The Post Office in Pittsburgh, Pa. Plus that branch moved location 10+ years ago. Dad is now with us in California but needs to be in a Nursing Home
    Please let me know how we can proceed. Any help is appreciated.

    We only have 30 days according to the letter the VA sent him.

    • You’ll have to call the Postal Service’s personnel office. If you can’t find the number, check with your local post office.

  5. Frank here,

    Retired CRCS-Offset, with total 38 years. My social security annual statement does not have my first 5 years at the Post Office, I don’t know if this has anything to do with part time, or the Post Office to Postal Service. While working at the Post Office, I do not know if they ever pulled out social security or not, but either way it is not showing on my annual statement. How do I confirm what was actually taken from my paycheck from 1978 to 1983, and if it makes any difference to my ssa record? I have just under 20 years of part and full time work outside the postal work. How does one get a straight answer out of ssa about what the windfall and GPO affect will be?

    • During those early years when you worked for the Postal Service, Social Security deductions wouldn’t have been taken from your pay. To find out how you’d be affected by the windfall elimination provision, use the handy calculator at You would only be affected by the government pension offset if you were entitled to a spousal Social Security benefit based on your spouse’s earned Social Security benefit. To find out more about that and how it might affect you. go to

    • I too was hired in 78 and unless you switched over to fers or hired after 1984 they did not take any social security from your pay. I retired in 2009 with 33 yrs in and working. I have earned the 40 quarters about 2 yrs ago and thing of collecting my social now. By my calculation they will take 55 % of my social security. If you can contact a friend who you worked with of maybe a union rep to answer your questions. No one else out there will help you, thanks a lot R Regan.

  6. The amount I am told I will get is based on the assumption that I will continue working until age 62. Obviously, if I retired early at 57 with no further income, that estimate will change, probably reduced. I can’t find any formula on the internet that re-calculates the estimate when adding 5 years of zero income.

  7. Diane Wenzler on

    Would a former USPS employee be able to collect Social Security spousal benefits from a wife who is receiving Social Security

  8. Yes, but if the individual meets all the qualifying factors as a spouse, but s/he is a former U.S. postal worker would that prohibit him/her from receiving Social Security benefits? That is, I’m specifically asking if the former postal worker who is not entitled to Social Security on his/her own record would be able to collect on his/her spouse’s record, if otherwise eligible?

    • If he’s receiving an annuity from a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes, he’d be subject to the government pension offset provision of law. If he isn’t, he wouldn’t be.

  9. I worked for the usps under fers with 10 yrs service I am 59 yrs old and trying to get my pension from the p.o. I am also a nurse that worked for 35 yrs will I still get my as at 65 yrs old. Since I could’ve pulled retirement from p.o. at 56 yrs old do I get the 3 yrs that I didn’t get in a lump sum.

    • If you retire at age 59 with 10 years of service, you’d be retiring under the MRA+10 provision. As a result, your annuity would be reduced by 5 percent for every year that you are under age 62. You could reduced or eliminate that penalty by deferring the receipt of your annuity to a later date. Assuming that you were covered by Social Security while working as a nurse, you could begin receiving a Social Security benefit at age 65. I don’t understand what you mean by “do I get the 3 yrs that I didn’t get in a lump sum.” What 3 years?

  10. What I meant fof.the three years is that I.could’ve received the benefits at age 56. Also can I pull down my money as a lump.sum. If I am Able to.pull it down as a lump sum how much is the taxes that I would have to pay. If I recoeve the benefits at age 59 once I reach 62 would I stop being penalized

    • 1. No, you can’t receive a refund. 2. If you receive your annuity before age 62, the reduction will be permanent.

  11. Andy Stephenson on

    My wife is retired under the csrs retirement plan and has worked and paid over 10 years and/or 40 quarters ( one in the same) into social security.
    If I pass away first does she become eligible for my social security as does others.

  12. Is there a way to find out the total amount of your annuity if you cash out before retirement under.the fees program

    • @Kim, if you “cash out before retirement,” you will not receive any annuity from FERS. Please don’t do that. It is short-sighted. You would only receive back what you contributed to FERS, which is likely not very much at 0.8% contribution per payday. The annuity you will receive over your lifetime by not “cashing out” is where you will get the best benefit.

  13. I am 48yrs old and have pretty much earned 45-70k per year for the last 25yrs (civilian work)…If I become a full time postal worker now, will I be getting substantially less in retirement than if I had stayed as a civillian worker?

    • Assuming that you are a federal civilian employee, if you go to work for the Postal Service, you’ll be under the same retirement system and your annuity will be based on all your government employment.

  14. Hello, thank you for your response. No, I am not a federal civilian employee. I have worked entirely outside the federal system all my life doing sales for private companies (selling home improvements mostly) I have paid quite a bit into social security and late in my work life, I am considering becoming a postal worker. I am concerned that if I do so, my retirement benefits will cancel out my social security benefits when the time comes for retirement and may be substantially less than if I had stayed working for private companies.

  15. I am a offset postal service retiree. With out notice my check was cut by $650.00 for the month they said I have to file for social security at age 62. I didn’t want to file until full retirement age I was told the adjustment would be in the social security part had no idea it would be reduced on my annuity. I have another job and am still paying social security. Can they do this and force me to draw my social security at 62 Then get penalized for the job I have now

    • At age 62 your annuity was automatically reduced by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a CSRS Offset employee. Whether you apply for a Social Security benefit now or later is a matter of choice. Since you are still working and paying into Social Security, it might make better sense for you to wait to apply for that benefit until you stop working or when you reach your full Social Security retirement age, which is 67.

  16. Once you reach the required age of 62 on disability, your annuity changes back to regular retirement, right? So
    if you find a job within your restrictions, will you lose your benefits, or will your benefits be reduced? I was told that you can make any amount after 60, but is there a reduction after a certain amount?? Do you still keep what you earned or have your benefits reduced?

    • There is nothing in law or regulation that says “you can make any amount after 60.” While OPM no longer requires that a disability annuitant report his earnings from wages or self-employment after reaching age 60, that does not bar them from requesting such information. Anyhow, then you reach age 62 your disability annuity will be converted to a regular annuity, after which there wouldn’t be any bar to your earning as much as you want. Doing so would have no affect on that annuity.

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