Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

CSRS Offset

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Q. I worked in the Postal Service from 1970 to 1977. I got back my retirement money, almost $5,000. I started working for the Veterans Affairs Department Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 1994 and was put in the CSRS Offset program. As of May, I will have been here for 19 years. I paid back my two years of military time. I asked someone in personnel whether I should pay back my Postal Service time and she said no. She said that some of your money comes from the Offset and some from Social Security. She said I would owe too much money to pay back and it doesn’t matter, with the way the offset works. Is she correct?

A. Because you took a refund of your retirement contributions before March 1, 1991, you have a choice. You can either redeposit the money, plus accrued interest, or not do that and have your annuity actuarially reduced based on the amount you owe and the age at which you retire. I can’t tell you which way to go, but others who have faced the same decision told me that taking the reduction is the better way to go financially.

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