CSRS Offset


Q. I served 21 years and six months in the military, paying Social Security all the time. I also paid a little Social Security prior to going into the military. I went into civil service under CSRS in 1985. All of my Social Security was paid into prior to going to work under CSRS, so why should I have an offset after retiring from civil service after 20 years? I paid in the CSRS program and all my Social Security was paid under a different system that shouldn’t have anything to do with civil service and my Social Security.

A. When you were first hired in 1985, you were required by law to be covered by CSRS and Social Security. Because you had fewer than five years of CSRS coverage when FERS went on line January 1, 1987, you should have been converted to FERS. However, you weren’t, so that’s water over the dam.

Because you were covered by CSRS Offset, at age 62 your CSRS annuity will be reduced by the amount of Social Security benefit you earned while a CSRS Offset employee. The amount you receive will be the same, it will just come from two different places: the Office of Personnel Management and Social Security. You will also receive any additional benefit you are entitled to based on all other Social Security-covered employment.


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.


  1. Martin Franks, CFP on

    I am confused because the questioner says he never paid Social Security during government service, only outside government. If the reader was truly in CRSR and not CSRS Offset, he may be referring to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) which was passed to eliminate “double dipping” by persons covered by CSRS with a non substantive amount of payments/years into Social Security. Generally less than 20 years. The WEP reduction phases out from 20-30 years of substantive Social Security payments

  2. Elaine Lumsden on

    If this person was first hired in 1985 with no prior civilian service, he/she should have been placed in CSRS Interim and then converted to FERS. If somehow the agency converted him/her to CSRS Offset, again assuming no previous civilian service, then that was in error and not “water over the dam.” A correction would need to be made to the record and the individual placed in the correct system. This sounds like a FERCCA case.

    • Linda Wagoner on

      I had 10 years of service in 1987 and elected to stay in CSRS when FERS started in 1985. When I came back into federal employment in 2008, they put me in CSRS offset because of the length of time separated. Was this correct?

      • Elaine Lumsden on

        Yes. If your break in service was more than 365 days upon your return you were mandated SSA coverage as a CSRS Offset with an option to elect FERS.

  3. Mr. Jones, I think this is where the confusion comes in. Many of us did work and pay into S.S. for more than 30 years, myself included. It specifically states that if you have more than 30 years of paid in S.S. you are exempt from offset deduction.
    The Windfall Elimination Provision doesn’t apply if: • You’re a federal worker first hired after December 31, 1983; • You were employed on December 31, 1983, by a nonprofit organization that didn’t withhold Social Security taxes from your pay at first, but then began withholding Social Security taxes; • Your only pension is for railroad employment;
    • The only work you performed for which you didn’t pay Social Security taxes was before 1957; or • You have 30 or more years of substantial earnings under Social Security. The Windfall Elimination Provision doesn’t apply to survivors benefits. We may reduce widows or widowers benefits because of another law. For more information, read Government Pension Offset (Publication No. 05-10007). Social Security years of substantial earnings If you have 30 or more years of substantial earnings, we don’t reduce the standard 90 percent factor in our formula.

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