Annuity reductions


Q. My wife is a CSRS Postal Service employee with four years of military time and will retire in February with 36 years total. She did not pay back her military time. She was told by the post office that Social Security would deduct the money from her check when she reaches 62.

1. My wife does not plan on trying to collect Social Security at age 62, so will they still lower her retirement check?

2. I was told during a civil service retirement seminar that if she waited until age 68, she could go back to work and earn Social Security credits without a reduction to her CSRS postal retirement check. Is this true?

3. I will soon be a CSRS retiree (Jan. 3). I paid my military buyback. If I go back to work and earn enough for Social Security and I were to die, would my wife’s retirement check be reduced if she applied for my Social Security benefits?

A. 1. Because your wife is eligible for a Social Security benefit, at age 62 her annuity would be automatically recomputed to eliminate those four years, unless she makes a deposit to get credit for that time before she retires. Note: Unless your wife has 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, her Social Security benefit will be affected by the windfall elimination provision. The WEP will reduce but not eliminate that benefit.

2. Yes. Anyone who reaches full retirement age can earn as much as they want without it affecting their Social Security benefit.

3. If you become eligible for a Social Security benefit, that benefit would be affected by the WEP. Any Social Security spousal benefit to which either of you would be entitled would be affected by the government pension offset provision. The GPO would reduce that benefit by $2 for every $3 you receive in your CSRS annuities.


About Author

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


  1. My sister in law quit working early due to health reasons at ssn retirement age she was informed she did not have enough retirement credits to draw on ssn . Although she was advised she could buy credits, Question how does she go about doing that, I am trying to assist her.

    • She was misinformed. No one can buy Social Security credits. Further, no one can borrow them or transfer them from someone else’s record. The only way someone can earn credits is by working and paying Social Security taxes.

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