The 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax will apply on up to $142,800 of earnings in 2021. On earnings above that amount FERS employees pay only the civil service retirement deduction; the relatively small number under CSRS Offset employees continue to pay their same 7 percent total (6.2 into Social Security and 0.8 into the federal retirement fund) but all the money after that point goes into the federal retirement fund instead. Employees under “pure” CSRS don’t pay the Social Security tax.

For those drawing Social Security benefits, the earnings test applying to beneficiaries aged 62 through that program’s “full” retirement age (66 and two months, for those retiring in 2021), will rise to $18,960. 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 but prior to the individual attaining that age. One dollar in benefits will be withheld for every $3 in earnings above $50,520. There is no limit on earnings beginning the month an individual attains full retirement age.

For purposes of determining the benefit offset under the windfall elimination provision—which can reduce Social Security benefits of CSRS retirees who worked long enough in each system to qualify for a benefit from each—the annual “substantial earnings” threshold will be $26,550.

TSP Investment Limits Stable for 2021; Several Policy Changes Taking Effect

Health Care Costs Set to Rise in New Year for Most

Most Fed Retirees Getting 1.3 Percent COLAs

FERS Retirement Bundle: 2021 FERS Guide & TSP Handbook