Postal Service work and Social Security

31

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 www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10045.pdf.

Share.

About Author

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

31 Comments

  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.

    • 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 http://www.opm.gov/forms. 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?

  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.

Leave A Reply