Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Postal Service work and Social Security

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Q. I am 62 and a U.S. Postal Service retiree. I retired five years ago after 38 years of service. I receive a CSRS pension. During the time I worked at the Post Office, I also worked some part-time jobs, for which I contributed to Social Security. After I retired, I continued to work these part-time jobs, trying to get enough quarters to be able to collect a small Social Security pension when I reached age 62. In April, I turned 62 and applied for Social Security. The Social Security representative told me that I was eligible to collect $184 a month, but because I had worked for the Post Office and was collecting a federal pension, my Social Security pension would be reduced. He said under the windfall elimination provision, my Social Security pension would be reduced from $184 to $80 a month. That’s a reduction of $104 . I was aware of the WEP, but I never thought I would receive such a large reduction! I filed an appeal in April, but I have not received an answer yet. I called them, but I was told they have up to four months to rule on my appeal. I’m still waiting. I just don’t think they’re being fair. Am I wrong to feel like I’m being punished because I worked for the Post Office? I busted my tail working these part-time jobs to qualify for $184 a month, and I know I should receive a reduction, but not $104.

A. If you had fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, you’d be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The fewer years of covered service you have, the greater the decrease in your Social Security benefit will be. The reduction is effected by reducing the first multiplier in the Social Security benefit formula. If your have 30 or more years, that multiplier is 90 percent. If you have 20 or fewer years, the multiplier is reduced to 40 percent. To better understand the WEP, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10045.pdf.

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Comments

  1. David Cary Says:
    October 24th, 2012 at 8:03 am

    This is one of the most unfair laws Congress ever enacted.
    It is another example of work hard and long, and get penalized. But earnings from NONwork, such as investments, interest, etc., is not subject to the reduction, only WORK. Go figure.

    I am NOT for penalizing the rich, but I AM against penalizing the poor and those who do their best to WORK for their maintenance.

  2. Jim Corvino Says:
    October 24th, 2012 at 10:20 am

    I retired from Post Office but had 6 years work in private sector prior and have been working for 3 years since in my own business where I pay SSI as an empoyer and as an employee. I am paying into it twice knowing I won’t be able to collect benefits because of WEP and also can’t collect from former spouse due to the other Offset law passed. I would accept not getting SSI if I didn’t have to keep paying. This law totally discriminates aginst Civil Service retirees. GM and other company retirees collect equal pensions plus full SSI benefits. We should be treated like all other americans. Give me benefits based on what I paid like everyone else.

  3. Bill Says:
    October 24th, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    It is very sad. A UPS employee gets full pension, (about 3K after 30 years) and full SS. Just because you chose to work for the government, should not penalize your service. But then again, did you pay into SS under CSR?

  4. Tim O Says:
    October 24th, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    After 38 years under CSRS, you get somewhere around 78% of your high three. If you made 60 thousand, that would work out to be about $47,000 per year. How much do you need? After 30 years in FERS, with similar yearly salary, retirees are lucky to get $18,000 per year. The piddly $1200 per month SS at 62 adds another $14,400 for a grand total of $32,000. Looks like it’s the FERS employees who are getting royally screwed!!!

  5. Randy Says:
    October 25th, 2012 at 12:27 am

    The WEP was part of the changes to government workers’ pensions promoted by Pres. Ronald Reagan in the early 1980′s. The other major legislation that he signed eliminated CSRS and forced government workers into FERS with reduced retirement income. Mr. Reagan once said, in effect, that CSRS was too good for government workers.

    When Mr. Reagan retired, he collected a Presidential pension, a Calif. Governor’s pension, a Screen Actors Guild pension and social security…. and he didn’t refuse any of this money…. all of this wasn’t too good for him!

    In the past few years, Republicans have been trying to reduce state and local government pensions and/or increase the costs to the worker for such. They have made claims that even FERS and social security needs to be reduced or eliminated…..

    Please remember this when you vote this year!

  6. MichaelKlein Says:
    October 25th, 2012 at 9:52 am

    They have a lotof guts calling it a windfall. My problem is that I have very little SS time and I would like a part time job. Knowing I will never be able to collect any SS I should be able to declare myself exempt from paying anymore money into the fund.