Ask The Experts: Retirement

By Reg Jones

Retirement basics: CSRS Offset

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Q: Please explain what CSRS Offset is.

A: Civil Service Retirement System Offset employees are those who are covered by both CSRS and Social Security. In general, there are two categories of employees who are covered by CSRS Offset. First, those who had a break in service that exceeded one year and ended after 1983 and had at least five years of creditable service as of January 1, 1987. Second, employees who were hired before Jan. 1, 1984, acquired CSRS interim coverage between 1984 and 1987, and had at least five years of creditable civilian service by Jan. 1, 1987.

If a CSRS Offset employee retires before reaching age 62, at age 62 his annuity is reduced by the amount of Social Security benefit he earned while employed under CSRS Offset. If he retires at or after age 62, the offset occurs on the day he retires. Note: The reduction is automatic and occurs whether or not he applies for a Social Security benefit.

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CSRS and Social Security survivor benefits

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Q: I’m currently an employee under the Civil Service Retirement System drawing a monthly payment from Social Security under my ex-husband’s benefits. I’ve called and visited the local Social Security office and can’t seem to get a straight answer: I understand that I can’t draw Social Security in my own right because I am a CSRS employee, but will I continue to be able to receive Social Security from my ex-husband’s (now deceased) Social Security account?

A: You might be able to receive survivor Social Security benefit while you are still working. To find out what the eligibility requirements are and the amount you would get, visit the Social Security Administration website. However, when you retire, you will be subject to the government pension offset, which will reduce any survivor benefit by $2 for every $3 you receive in your CSRS annuity. For more information, read SSA Publication No. 05-10007.

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Social Security and FERS benefits

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Q: I am a federal employee covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System. I am also paying Social Security taxes. Would I receive 100 percent of my retirement from both systems given that I retired at the stipulated age? Will my Social Security pension change my FERS pension?

A: If you retire on an immediate annuity after reaching the right combination of age and service (62 years old with five years of service, 60 with 20, or at your minimum retirement age with 30), you’ll receive an unreduced FERS annuity and, if you retire before age 62, the special retirement supplement, which approximates the Social Security benefit you earned while employed under FERS. The SRS will end at age 62, when you’ll be eligible for a Social Security benefit based on all your Social Security-covered service. As you can see, there won’t be any offset.

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