CSRS, Social Security and military service


Q. I just retired from the federal government Dec. 28 under CSRS at age 66. My service comp date is March 3, 1975. Now I am told I have only 31 years in federal service because they are not counting my six years on active duty with the Army. They say it’s because I’m eligible for a Social Security benefit, and I’m receiving one. I thought they went by the service computation date. If I am required to buy back my military time, of six years, to get a larger monthly annuity, can I still do that? How much will I have to pay to buy back the six years of military? Does it have to be paid all at once? The Social Security Administration representative said my Social Security benefit will be reduced because I’m a CSRS retiree.

A. First, because you were at least 62 when you retired, OPM was required by law to check with the Social Security Administration to see if you were eligible for a Social Security benefit. Because it learned that you were and that you hadn’t made a deposit for your years of active-duty service, it was required by law to remove those years and recompute your annuity without them. Since only employees can make a deposit to get credit for active-duty service, it’s too late for you to do anything about that.

Second, because you are receiving an annuity from CSRS, a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes, you are subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP will reduce that Social Security benefit if you have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. Unless the Social Security Administration got it right the first time, your Social Security benefit will be reduced and you will owe it for any overpayment you received.


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.

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