The Social Security withholding “FICA” tax of 6.2 percent will continue to apply in 2016 to salary up to $118,500. That tax is paid by those under FERS and CSRS Offset (under the latter, full retirement contributions continue above that level, however, with the excess going into the civil service retirement fund). The annual earnings test threshold applying to Social Security beneficiaries aged 62 through “full retirement age”–in 2016, remaining 66–will continue to be $15,720. Those beneficiaries lose $1 in Social Security benefits for every $2 in earnings through employment or self-employment above the limit. A separate earnings test applies only to earnings for months in the year an individual reaches full retirement age prior to the individual attaining that age. One dollar in benefits will be withheld for every $3 in earnings above $41,880, also unchanged. There is no limit on earnings beginning the month an individual attains full retirement age. Meanwhile, the “substantial earnings” needed under the windfall elimination provision will remain $22,050. That offset mainly applies to CSRS-covered persons who qualify for a Social Security benefit due to outside earnings covered by that system; the offset is phased out if Social Security-covered earnings are above the annual threshold for at least 20 years and eliminated above 30 years.
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