The following is a question submitted by a Federal Times readers about retirement and other issues facing the federal workforce. It is answered by Reg Jones, a charter member of the senior executive service and a Federal Times columnist since 1995.
Question: I’m 70 years old. Prior to working for the government, I had a few years of part-time employment in the private sector. I started my government career under CSRS in June of 1971. I left for 11 ½ years and came back to work in 1986 and was covered by CSRS Offset. I retired in 2007. When I turned 62 in 2014, I began drawing a small Social Security benefit. Can I draw off my husband’s Social Security instead? And will it be reduced? He is still living.
Reg’s Response: Because you paid Social Security taxes on your earnings during the last 60 months of you government service, you were entitled to a unreduced benefit based on that period of employment, slightly increased by your earlier periods of part-time employment. You would also be entitled to a spousal benefit based on your husband’s Social Security benefit.
Assuming that his Social Security benefit is larger than yours, you’d continue to receive your benefit, plus an amount equal to the difference between your current benefit and his current benefit. For example, If you are getting $250 a month from Social Security and he is getting $600 a month, you would be entitled to a Social Security spousal benefit of $600 ($250 + $350).
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Reg Jones is the resident expert on retirement and the federal government at Federal Times. From 1979 until 1995, he served as an assistant director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management handling recruiting and examining, white and blue collar pay, retirement, insurance and other issues. From 1977 to 1979, he was deputy director of the Bureau of Policies and Standards in the U.S. Civil Service Commission. The opinions expressed are his own.