Court Limits Retirement Benefits For Those Who Received Civil-Service Pay

David Babcock was a dual-status military technician, which meant he received both military pay and pension payments through his service with the National Guard, and also received civil-service pay from the Office of Personnel Management. After he retired, he applied for Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration considered his civil-service pay to be a “windfall” and reduced his SSA benefits accordingly. Babcock argued that the civil-service payments were exempt because they were “based wholly on service as a member of a uniformed service.” The district court and Sixth Circuit affirmed the agency’s reduction in benefits. An 8-1 Court in Babcock v. Kijakazi affirmed as well, in an opinion by Justice Barrett, holding that the civil-service pay Babcock received was separate and distinct from his National Guard service. Even if the dual service was a condition of his employment with the National Guard did not convert his civil service into uniformed service. Justice Gorsuch dissented, arguing that Babcock’s dual status functioned more as uniformed service. A link to the opinion is here: