Windfall elimination and CSRS

A Reader Writes:

I retired from the Federal Government in November 2002 after 20 years. I was 61 years old and retired on the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) plan. I have paid Social Security most of my adult life, even before working for the government.

I went to work for a company that outsources services to the federal government. I received a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) saying my federal retirement would be less starting when I turned 62 because I am eligible for Social Security.

I was not aware that I would have less retirement money when I turned 62. I called SSA and the CSRS people and no one can answer my questions, but I still am losing retirement money. Why are they taking out this money? Can you tell me?

Milt Replies:

Social Security law includes a provision — the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) — that reduces Social Security benefits for individuals who have less than 30 years of "substantial earnings" under Social Security and who have earned a retirement benefit from employment not covered by Social Security. CSRS service, for example.

WEP was designed to eliminate the "windfall" that could result if, in addition to your full Social Security benefit, you also were to receive a CSRS annuity based on many years of employment not covered by Social Security.

WEP, however, never totally eliminates the Social Security benefit you have earned.

For more information, see SSA's explanation of the Windfall Elimination Provision.

A Reader Writes:

I am a current CSRS employee going on 25 years of service who also has the minimum (40) quarters of Social Security service from prior employment.

I have received the annual status statement of Social Security benefits due me annually. Are the retirement benefit amounts listed in the statement (for when I reach 62 or 66) fairly accurate, or will my federal pension decrease these amounts when retired?

If reduced, how can I get information to indicate the reduction amount?

Milt Replies::

They statements are not accurate because they don't take the Windfall Elimination Provision" into account. Your CSRS benefits will reduce the amount of Social Security benefits you receive.

Once again, for more information, see SSA's explanation of the Windfall Elimination Provision.

Zall is a retired federal employee who since 1987 has written the Bureaucratus column for Federal Computer Week. He can be reached at milt.zall@verizon.net.

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