How Social Security Could Affect You

If you are eligible for a Social Security benefit when you retire with SERS, your Social Security benefit may be affected by federal laws. Your Social Security benefit may be reduced by either the Government Pension Offset (GPO) or the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

These laws do not affect your SERS pension; they affect only your Social Security benefit. Your SERS pension is not reduced because of these federal 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 your Social Security Administration (SSA) local office, visit the SSA website at www.ssa.gov, or call SSA at 1-800-772-1213.


The Government Pension Offset

The Governmental Pension Offset affects SERS retirees who are, or will be, receiving a Social Security benefit based on their spouse’s Social Security account. This includes 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.

The GPO applies to a SERS retiree 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 pension is $1,200, and you are entitled to a $1,000 Social Security spousal benefit. Two-thirds of your SERS pension is $800, which, when deducted from your Social Security benefit, leaves you with $200 in a Social Security benefit and your $1,200 SERS pension.

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

Please notify the Social Security Administration when your SERS pension benefit begins. Failure to do so could result in costly back payments due to Social Security.

You must report cost-of-living adjustments or other increases in your SERS pension to the SSA. These increases result in a new GPO calculation and further reduction in your Social Security benefit. Please contact SERS for verification of a cost-of-living adjustment.


The Windfall Elimination Provision

The Windfall Elimination Provision affects SERS retirees 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.

If you have 30 qualified years or more of 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:

 

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How the WEP Works

The WEP modifies the formula that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses in calculating a Social Security benefit depending on the number of years a person has Social Security.

To find out how the WEP might affect you, go to the SSA website at http://www.ssa.gov or call 1-800-772-1213.