By Reg Jones
Q. I worked for the Internal Revenue Service for more than 30 years. I receive a CSRS pension. Can I receive my deceased husband’s Social Security benefit?
July 26th, 2013 | Government pension offset
Q. Could you please tell me what the government pension offset is for income tax purposes in Virginia and Maryland? I know that in D.C., it is $3,000, and hasn’t changed since 1987.
Q. I am a 33-year Postal Service employee. Thirty-three years ago, union officials told me that the government was working on eliminating CSRS Offset and the windfall elimination provision all civil service employees. As of today, they are both still in place. I feel lied to and cheated by my government. Politicians can collect multiple pensions, yet if I try and collect my Social Security benefits, though I have worked enough quarters, I would be penalized. Then, if my spouse dies, I am not entitled to her Social Security benefits, as I understand it. Is there a chance that these two antiquated laws will be repealed so civil servants like myself can enjoy the benefits that others get?
Q. I am planning to retire under CSRS next year with 38 years’ service. My husband retired from private industry and receives Social Security. If my husband predeceases me, will I receive his survivor annuity, or will it be subject to the windfall elimination provision and be drastically reduced?
Q. My husband is a retired federal employee under CSRS. Does he have survivor benefits for my Social Security?
Q. Please clarify where you obtained the answer to the question below, which was posted on your website. I have contacted the Social Security office and have been told that my spouse’s earned Social Security benefits will be offset by 2/3 of the survivor benefit should I die. And if the offset is higher than my spouse’s Social Security benefit, then the Social Security benefit will be zero. Your answer to the question says the complete opposite:
Q. I am collecting a pension under CSRS. My wife, who has worked and contributed to Social Security, plans to start collecting her Social Security pension this year at age 62. I have opted for survivor benefits under CSRS.
How will my wife’s Social Security pension change in the event of my death — and, vice versa, will my federal pension change because of her passing?
A. If you died, your wife would be able to receive both her earned Social Security benefit and a CSRS survivor annuity, with no reduction in either.
Q. I am under CSRS. My wife has worked in private sector her entire career. If she dies before I do, will I be entitled to her Social Security survivor benefits, or will there be an offset?
Q. I am 74 years old, retired under CSRS and receiving about $1,900 per month after taxes and Medicare payments. My wife is 76 years old, retired under Social Security and receives about $290 per month after Medicare. Am I correct in the following assumptions:
1. The spouse of a Social Security retiree can receive a benefit amount up to 50 percent of what the retiree receives and not affect the retiree’s benefits.
2. The spouse of a CSRS retiree does not receive such a benefit.
If I am correct, this example only helps to substantiate the idea the Congress cares not for employees who contributed so much for the federal government.
Q. I am a CSRS retiree. Can I collect my federal retirement and also collect on my share of my husband’s Social Security benefit?
Q. I am a retired CSRS postal worker and have opted for a survivor benefit. I do not qualify for Social Security. My spouse has about 24 years of SS payments from her jobs. If I die, are her benefits, either CSRS survivor benefits or Social Security, affected? If she dies, am I entitled to any of her Social Security benefits?
Q. I am a 66-year-old CSRS employee still working. Can I draw Social Security on my wife’s Social Security? She is a 70-year-old retired FERS employee.
Q. My mother has never worked outside the home. Upon my father’s death, she will receive survivor benefits from CSRS and Social Security benefits based on his work record. I believe she will not be affected by any government pension offset because she has never worked. Is that correct?
Q. My husband worked for the government for 25 years under CSRS and receives a pension. When he retired, we applied for spousal benefits because I had no qualifying employment. He then went to work in the private sector and will complete his 30 years of substantial earnings for Social Security next year. When he retires, he will receive another pension from his private job. As we understand it, we should not be affected by the windfall elimination provision. However, we are confused by the government pension offset. Will he not be entitled to draw his full Social Security at age 66 or later? How will it affect my half of his Social Security payments? How will it affect my spousal benefit of his federal pension should he die before I do? Am I correct in understanding that the pensions are not considered earned income and should not reduce the Social Security amount?
Q. I retired in 2010 with 40 years of service, including four years of military service (1972-1976) that I did not pay back. While I am 62 and don’t qualify for Social Security yet, I recently received a notice that I now qualify for survivor benefits. Will this affect my CSRS annuity? Second, is the one-time Catch 62 check at age 62 in law or process? My concern is that if it is process, then it could easily be changed because of the budget situation to check every year after age 62 or when you start to draw Social Security if you qualify after age 62.
Q. I’m trying to understand how my retirement income will be affected by the government pension offset and windfall elimination provision.
I’m a CSRS Offset employee (55 years old) contemplating retirement in the next year with more than 32 years’ service. I also receive a monthly spousal annuity from my deceased wife’s CSRS service. I understand that when I turn 62, my own CSRS pension will be reduced by whatever Social Security amount I’m eligible for (should be more than 30 years of Social Security earnings), but I just read something indicating that my spousal annuity also might be reduced at age 62 due to the windfall elimination provision. Can you shed light on how this will unfold?
February 15th, 2012 | Government pension offset
Q: My wife began working for the post office in 1977 and retired in 2010 with 33 years of service under the CSRS Offset retirement system. During all these years Social Security was deducted from her check. She will turn 62 in October 2014, and as I understand the rules, her civil service pension will be offset a calculated amount based on the Social Security that she will be eligible to draw when she turns 62. I can understand this being the case had she not paid into Social Security. Since she paid into Social Security all those years, it doesn’t seem right that her civil service pension should be offset. If an individual worked for a non civil service company and retired, their pension is not offset by the amount of Social Security they would draw. The Social Security would be in addition to their regular pension check.
A: Your analogy doesn’t hold water. Regular CSRS employees contribute 7 percent of their salaries to the civilian retirement fund, in return for which they receive a full CSRS annuity. CSRS Offset employees contribute 0.08 percent of salary to the civilian retirement fund and 6.2 percent to Social Security, in return for which they receive the same amount of annuity benefit as their full CSRS colleagues. It just comes from two different places, the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund and the Social Security Administration.
February 13th, 2012 | Government pension offset
Q: I retired from federal service in 2003 at age 57 under the CSRS Offset program. I am almost 66. I recently began my application for Social Security benefits and during this process “discovered” that my CSRS pension has never been adjusted for the Social Security offset which should have occurred at age 62. Is OPM going to want a retroactive repayment of the amounts I would have collected from Social Security if I had applied at age 62? How should I proceed?
A: OPM will have no choice but to seek a refund of the overpayments you received. When it does that, you’ll be told what your appeal rights are.
Q. I am 57 and a retired federal worker. I retired under the Civil Service Retirement System at the GS-13 level. I only worked a total of about three months before my federal service paying into Social Security, so I am not eligible for any Social Security benefits for myself. However, my husband, who is 60, has worked since he was 19, and has been paying into the Social Security system since then. My understanding is that I am not eligible to receive any of his Social Security benefits because my civil service pension is too high. My question: Is this still true if he dies before me and I become a widow? Will I then be able to receive some of his Social Security benefits?
A. No. The government pension offset provision of law would reduce either benefit by $2 for every $3 you receive in your CSRS annuity.
January 18th, 2012 | Creditable service: CSRS Creditable service: FERS CSRS annuity computation FERS annuity computation Government pension offset RETIREMENT SOCIAL SECURITY Windfall elimination provision
Q. My wife started working under the Civil Service Retirement System in July 1982 and continued to work under CSRS until August 1989. She is re-entering the government workforce. She plans to stop working in eight years when she will be 57, and will have 15 years of government service. It appears she would be eligible for deferred retirement benefits at age 62. How will her benefits be calculated?
A: It all depends. When she returns to work for the federal government, she’ll be covered by CSRS Offset (CSRS and Social Security), with the option of transferring to the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS and Social Security). If she stays in CSRS Offset, her entire annuity will be calculated under the CSRS formula. When she applies for deferred annuity at age 62, her CSRS annuity would be offset by the amount of Social Security benefit she earned while covered by CSRS Offset. The dollar value would be the same but the money would come from two different sources. If she transferred to FERS when she applied for a deferred annuity at age 62, her CSRS time would be calculated under the CSRS formula and her FERS time under the FERS formula. Note: Because in both cases, she would be receiving part of her annuity from CSRS, a retirement system where she didn’t pay Social Security taxes, her Social Security benefit would be subject to the windfall elimination provision. The WEP reduces the Social Security benefit of anyone who doesn’t have at least 30 years of coverage under Social Security.
October 13th, 2011 | Government pension offset
Q: I am a CSRS Offset annuitant. I know when I reach 62, my pension will be reduced by the amount Social Security will pay at age 62 if I apply. If I wait and apply later, will I get more from Social Security, or will my pension just be further offset? For example, if my Social Security is $200 at 62, they will take $200 out of my pension. If I wait until age 65 and for example my Social Security is $500, will they reduce my pension by $200 or $500? In other words, is there a financial benefit to waiting under CSRS offset?
A: The annuity of a CSRS Offset employee is automatically reduced at age 62, whether or not you apply for a Social Security benefit.