CSRS and Social Security

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Q. I am a federal employee with 42 years of CSRS service. Will I be afforded the opportunity to receive Social Security benefits when I reach the age of 65?

A. You would only be entitled to a Social Security benefit if you had worked outside the government and earned at least 40 Social Security credits. However, because you worked under CSRS – a retirement system where Social Security taxes weren’t deducted from your wages – you’d be subject to the windfall elimination provision of law. The WEP would reduce that benefit unless you had at least 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security.  

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

29 Comments

  1. I,m retired on CSRS Disability, I,m 68 and wanting to collect SS,,, I have more than 40 quarters… I went on CSRS in 1993….When I apply for SS will I be subject to the special eroll ment penalty under medicare. I,ve had the VA medical insurance this whole time….I understand I will automatically receive part A , but will I be penalized for part B for not signing up at 65….Also, what about WEP AS mentioned I retired from CSRS in 1993 on disability and have work under SS thruout the 70,s 80,s till 1993

    • Yes, you will be penalized for not having enrolled in Medicare Part B during the initial enrollment period, which runs from 3 months before someone turns 65 and ends three moths after that month. As you noted, you are automatically eligible for Medicare Part A at no expense to yourself. As for the windfall elimination provision, your Social Security benefit will be reduced – but not eliminated – if you have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. The “substantial earnings” criterion is higher than that required to earn a year of Social Security credit. For example, in 2020, you’d only have to earn $5,640 to received 4 Social Security credits; however, for those earnings to be considered substantial, you’d have to earn $25,575 during the year.

  2. I am a retired CSRS employee. I have worked in the private sector and have 30 quarters towards Social Security.If I work and earn the remaining 10 quarters now that I have retired will I be subject to the WEP ?

  3. I am a CSRS employee, I have been for 42 years this coming February 2021. My question is: If my husband passes away before I do, and when I retire, will I be able to draw anything from his retirement?

    • You would be entitled to any survivor annuity based on your husband’s employment history. However, any spousal Social Security benefit to which you’d otherwise be entitled would be subject to the government pension offset provision of law. The GPO would reduce or eliminate than benefit.

  4. I retired on a CSRS disability in 1990 in a GS-11 position. I’m 67 and am finally on medication that helps me work and I started last year at the age of 66 so had little social security credits. I am now working a $9 per hour job on a 3rd shift. I will never qualify or get social security retirement. Can a person stop the deduction for Social Security which is a substantial amount of my pay?

    • No one, regardless of their age or eligibility for a Social Security benefit, can stop having Social Security deductions taken from their pay.

  5. Coleman McDonough on

    I retired in 2015 with 35 years csrs from the USPS, and between my prior Postal work and the past 5 years, I’ve been informed I have over the 40 credits for social security. But is there anything for me to receive without reducing my csrs pension?

    • Yes, you will be able to receive a Social Security benefit without its affecting your CSRS annuity. However, that benefit will be reduced because you are receiving an annuity from CSRS, a retirement system where you didn’t pay Social security taxes. You can find out more about the windfall elimination provision of law and how it would affect your Social Security benefit by going to https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/wep.html.

    • While you would be entitled to a spousal Social Security benefit, because you worked for a retirement system where Social Security taxes weren’t taken from you pay that benefit will will be reduced or eliminated by the government pension offset provision of law. You’ll find a full explanation of the GPO at https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf.

      • The GPO seems grossly unfair. My spouse is higher paid CSRS and never paid in to social security. But I am in Private sector and I did. Why can’t she collect under my work record ( auxiliary benefits)? What is the logic as I am the one who paid into it. If she never worked, and never paid in to Soc. security, she would be able to collect under my work record. Is that logical?
        Are there any serious efforts ( in congress) to change this provision?

    • Here’s the formula:
      – Take your monthly Social Security benefit estimate provided by the Social Security Administration
      – Multiply it by your years of Offset service
      – Divide the product by 40
      What you’ll get is an estimate, which will change over time. The earlier in your career that you use the formula, the farther off it will be from what you’ll be entitled to when you retire.

  6. Please explain the survivors benefits for annuitants. My husband is a true CSRS annuitant and I’m an Offset CSRS annuitant. We both retired 12 years ago and elected the optional survivor’s benefits. I’m about to turn 62 and understand the offset of my CSRS annuity will occur whether I apply for benefits from Social Security or not. I have been working and trying to decide if I’ll continue to until FRA. I have 30 substantial years and exempt from WEP and also exempt from GPO because of the offset. I know my husband will suffer the GPO (penalty) in the event of my death on my social security benefits if I apply to receive them but what happens if I don’t apply? Also, what happens to his spousal benefits from CSRS now? Will that become offset too or become eliminated because I’ll become Social Security eligible? I’ll still have a CSRS annuity although reduced. Please don’t tell me I permanently reduced my CSRS annuity just for the survivor’s benefit to become reduced or eliminated? What happens if my husband passes before me, will social security penalize my CSRS spousal benefits from him? Please help. Thank you.

    • It wouldn’t make any sense for you to not apply for your earned Social Security benefit. If you didn’t apply, you wouldn’t receive anything for all the years you worked and paid for that benefit. And your survivor husband wouldn’t be any better off. If he didn’t apply for a Social Security survivor benefit based on your work history, he’d receive nothing; if he did, that benefit would probably be reduced to zero.

      As you noted, at age 62, your CSRS annuity will be reduced whether or not you apply for a Social Security benefit. Whether you elect to receive it at that time or delay its receipt until later would have no affect on the amount of survivor annuity you elected for your spouse. On the other hand, if he were to pass before you, your CSRS annuity would be prospectively restored to what it would have been if you hadn’t elected a survivor annuity, increased by any retiree cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that were apayble after you retired.

      Receiving a CSRS survivor benefit would have no affect on your own earned annuity or your Social Security benefit. That latter benefit could only be reduced if you were under full Social Security retirement age and had earnings from wages or self employment that exceeded the annual Social Security earnings limit.

      I hope what I’ve just told you puts your mind at ease.

    • You’d continue to receive your annuity and the pay you’d receive would be the difference between your annuity and the salary of that position. For example, if your annuity was $50,000 and the salary of that position was $60,000, you’s only be paid $10.000. Note: That’s the rule, unless you are hired into one of those rare positions that would allow you to receive both your annuity and the full salary of your new position.

  7. My Estimate stated, that my Social Security Offset is $198.00 per month, Is this an offset to my OPM annuity?
    My computation is only less than $40.00. Is this Estimate, final? or OPM will decide?
    Thank you, sir.

    • That figure is an estimate of the the amount of Social Security benefit you have earned while a CSRS Offset employee. At age 62 the actual amount of the offset will be determined by the Social Security Administration. If you are retired, the reduction will occur at that time; later if you retire after age 62.

  8. I started federal service in 1981 under the CSRS. In 1999 I switched to FERS. I retired in October 2017 under FERS at age 58 and have been receiving a combined CSRS and FERS pension. I also have been receiving a FERS Supplemental Social Security payment that will cease when I’m 62. My question is: Does it make sense for me to start taking social security adjusted by the windfall elimination provision at age 62 or should I wait until full retirement age of 66 and 10 months?

    • The answer to you question depends on whether you will need that money to live comfortably when you retire? If you won’t, then you can wait until you reach your full retirement age. Just keep in mind that no one knows how long he or she will live. You could defer receiving that money and die before receiving a penny.

  9. I retired with a CSRS Retirement but I had over 40 quarters in prior to working for the Federal Government. I have been told I would only be able to draw 1/2 of what I am eligible for because of drawing a Federal Pension. Is that true?

    • Because you were covered by CSRS, you didn’t have Social Security taxes deducted from your pay. Therefore you are subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision. Since you have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, your Social Security benefit will be reduced. To find out how your benefit will be affected, go to https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf.

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