Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

CSRS and military service and Social Security

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Q. I retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs after 42 years of CSRS service. I also retired from the U.S. Army Reserve with 31 years of service. In the Reserve, I paid into the Social Security system. I always understood that I would not receive Social Security payments due to the windfall elimination provision or government pension offset. However while I was visiting a Social Security office on another matter, a rep told me that because I paid in for more than 20 years, I would receive a percentage of my Social Security entitlement. Is this true, and if it is, where can I find this information? I will be 66 in 18 months.

A. The windfall elimination provision reduces but doesn’t elimination a Social Security benefit. And it only reduces it if you have fewer than 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security. You can find out more about the WEP and how it might affect you at http://ssa.gov/pubs/10045.html.

The government pension offset only applies to the spousal Social Security benefit of someone receiving an annuity from a retirement system where he didn’t pay Social Security taxes, such as CSRS. In most cases, it will eliminate that benefit. You can find out more about the GPO at http://ssa.gov/pubs/10007.html.

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