Calculating FERS substantial earning years


Q. I have 43 years of service: 22 years under CSRS, which includes 4 years military active duty that I “ bought back,” as well as 21 years under FERS. There was no break in service. Will my 4 years of active duty, in which I paid Social Security, give me essentially 25 years of “ substantial earnings” towards the WEP provision?

A. It depends upon how much you earned year. The schedule of annual earnings required to qualify as “substantial” is available at
You can compare the earnings for year as listed in your Social Security benefit statement (available at with the Substantial Earnings schedule to see how many years of Substantial Earnings are in your record.


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Mike Miles is a Certified Financial Planner licensee and principal adviser for Variplan LLC, an independent fiduciary in Vienna, Virginia. Email your financial questions to and view his blog at

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