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Social Security

If you are a SERS’ retiree or disability benefit recipient who also is eligible for a Social Security benefit, your Social Security benefit may be affected by federal law regulating Social Security benefits.  Your Social Security benefit may be reduced by either the Government Pension Offset (GPO) or the Windfall Elimination (WEP) provisions. 

The federal law does not affect your SERS pension benefit; it affects only your Social Security benefit.  Your SERS payment is not reduced because of these Social Security laws. Read more about: Social Security and Your SERS Pension.

The following is provided as general information.  For more detailed information on the GPO and WEP and how they may affect your specific Social Security benefit, you should contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) by contacting the local office, by visiting the SSA website at www.ssa.gov/gpo-wep/, or by telephone at 1-800-772-1213.

The GPO affects SERS retirees or disability benefit recipients who are, or will be, receiving a Social Security benefit based on their spouse’s Social Security account. This includes surviving spouses qualifying on an ex-spouse’s account. The GPO does not apply to the spouse’s own Social Security benefit. It does not affect Medicare coverage.

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The GPO applies to a SERS retiree or disability benefit recipient who was first eligible to retire from SERS after July, 1, 1983 and who receives Social Security benefits. 

How the GPO Works

The amount of your Social Security spousal benefit is reduced by two-thirds of the amount of your SERS benefit.  The following is an example:

Your SERS monthly benefit is $600, and you also are entitled to a $500 Social Security spousal  benefit.  Two-thirds of your SERS benefit is $400 which when deducted from your Social Security  benefit leaves you with $100 in a Social Security benefit and your $600 SERS benefit.

Depending on your gross SERS pension amount, the GPO could eliminate your Social Security spousal benefit entirely.

To find out how the GPO might affect you, go to the SSA website or contact SSA.

When you receive cost-of-living adjustments or other increases in your SERS benefit, you must report these to the SSA.  These increases will result in a new GPO calculation and further reduction in your Social Security benefit.  SERS does not report these increases to the SSA.  You may report the increase by sending a copy of the SERS’ notification sent to you when the increase is effective; or you may request a verification letter from SERS which you can submit to the SSA.

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The WEP affects SERS retirees or disability benefit recipients who are, or will be, receiving a Social Security benefit based on their own Social Security employment record. If you had a private sector job and were contributing to Social Security for that job, the WEP will affect the Social Security benefit you would receive based on the private sector job.

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If you have 30 years or more of substantial earnings under Social Security, or you were eligible for either your Social Security or SERS benefit before 1986, the WEP will not affect your Social Security benefit.

The following chart shows what earnings make a qualified year.

How the WEP Works

 

The WEP modifies the formula that SSA uses in calculating your Social Security benefit depending on the number of years you have under Social Security. 

To find out how the WEP might affect you, go to the SSA website or contact SSA.

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Contact Congress Regarding An Important Issue Affecting SERS Retirees

Contacting your legislators is easy using SERS' Legislative Action Alert. By entering your ZIP code, you’ll have access to the contact information (e-mail address, phone number, and mailing address) of your federal legislators.

OPPOSE SOCIAL SECURITY OFFSET AND WINDFALL PENALTIES

We encourage SERS members and retirees to contact their members of Congress to ask them to support elimination of these provisions.

Encourage your legislator to support the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act.