weather icon Clear

Two provisions affect government employees

When it comes to Social Security, many government employees have questions about two provisions of the law that may affect them. These provisions are the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision.

Here are some questions and answers that should help readers understand what the two provisions are about.

Q. Who is affected by Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision?

A. Government employees are. The Government Pension Offset reduces the potential Social Security spouse’s/widow’s/widower’s benefit amount someone could receive if he or she also receives a pension from a federal, state or local government for work on which no Social Security taxes were paid. The Windfall Elimination Provision can reduce a worker’s monthly Social Security benefit amount, if he or she also receives a pension from work not covered by Social Security.

Q. What is the purpose of these provisions?

A. They are designed to ensure that all American workers are treated equally under the Social Security system. Government Pension Offset stipulates that any Social Security spouse’s or widow’s benefit that a worker might be entitled to must be reduced by two-thirds of that worker’s government pension. Why? Well, the offset removes an advantage that some government workers once had.

Before the offset, a person who worked in a government job that was not covered under Social Security could receive, in addition to a government pension based on his or her own earnings, a full Social Security spouse’s or surviving spouse’s benefit. No other workers had this option because Social Security benefits payable to a person as a spouse or surviving spouse must be offset, dollar for dollar, by the amount of that person’s own Social Security benefit.

Similarly, the Windfall Elimination Provision takes away an advantage that the regular Social Security benefit “formula” would give people who have substantial pensions from non-Social Security covered jobs. Without the provision, a worker who spent most of his or her career in employment not covered by Social Security and who worked for a short time to get Social Security coverage would end up with much higher benefits than if all of his or her work were done under Social Security.

Q. How many retirees actually see an effect in their benefit payments?

A. Last year, out of more than 55 million Social Security beneficiaries, only about 567,900 were affected by the offset provision. Also, last year there were nearly 1.3 million retired and disabled workers who had their Social Security benefits partially reduced by windfall elimination.

The above information provides just a brief overview of these two provisions. For more information, including examples of just how the two provisions work in real-life situations, visit the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov/gpo-wep or call toll-free, 1-800-772-1213 (for the deaf or hard of hearing, call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778) and ask for Social Security publications on the Government Pension Offset or the Windfall Elimination Provision.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Mother receives cancer diagnosis after giving birth

Three months after giving birth, Elaine Arcenas discovered a lump in her breast while doing a self-exam. The diagnosis was cancer. She finished most of her cancer treatments by the time of her daughter’s first birthday, and today Arcenas is a healthy 12-year survivor.

Genetic testing can catch cancer early

When her doctor realized that Susan Wincn had several family members reaching back generations who had been diagnosed with cancer or succumbed early in life, she recommended a new genetic panel that tests for 84 cancer genes. The tests came back showing that Wincn has the ATM gene, which leaves her at a higher risk for breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers.

Percentage of Americans with no religious affiliation grows

The portion of Americans with no religious affiliation is rising significantly, in tandem with a sharp drop in the percentage that identifies as Christians.

Summerlin-area land sold to health care company for $19M

Intermountain Healthcare, a nonprofit system with more than 20 hospitals, spent almost $19 million to purchase roughly 7.7 acres at the southeast corner of Rampart Boulevard and Alta Drive, near Summerlin.