Wikimedia Commons

The Two Most Hated Provisions in Government Retirement

Nobody likes policies that reduce their benefits.

These days, I don’t get as many questions about the Windfall Elimination Provision or the Government Pension Offset as I used to. That’s mostly because the majority of federal employees currently on the job are covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System, which is generally not affected by these provisions.

Here’s the issue with the WEP and the GPO. Some federal employees (mostly those under the Civil Service Retirement System) and state and local government workers may be eligible for pensions that are based on earnings not covered by Social Security. If you didn't pay Social Security taxes on your government earnings during your career, and you’re eligible for Social Security benefits, the formula used to figure your benefit amount may be modified, giving you a lower benefit.

Here are a few yes or no questions to help you determine if you’ll be affected by either the WEP or the GPO:

Do you receive or will you receive a pension from work that was not covered by Social Security tax withholding? 

If yes, you may be affected by the WEP and the GPO. An example would be an employee covered by CSRS or a FERS employee who transferred from CSRS to FERS. CSRS coverage, by law, was exempt from paying Social Security taxes. On the state level, many teachers are affected because they work under a state retirement plan and may not be subject to Social Security tax withholding.

If no, these provisions will not reduce your entitlement to Social Security. Federal employees covered under FERS and CSRS Offset pay Social Security taxes. 

Are you married to someone who receives a pension from work not covered by Social Security?

If yes, your spouse may receive a reduced Social Security retirement benefit if they have fewer than 30 years of substantial Social Security-covered employment during their career. You can find a table that lists the amount of substantial earnings for each year at the bottom of the second page of Social Security’s WEP fact sheet. Due to the GPO, your spouse may also receive a reduced spouse or widow’s benefit based on your Social Security record that often eliminates their entitlement to these benefits.

Your own earned Social Security benefit will not be affected by the WEP since you didn’t earn the government pension from work not covered by Social Security. Your entitlement to a survivor’s annuity will not be reduced by the GPO since you’re not the spouse who earned the government pension from work not covered by Social Security. If you survive your spouse, your widow’s benefit will not be reduced due to the WEP, which means you could receive a higher Social Security benefit from your spouse’s work record than they were entitled to receive while they were alive.

If the answer to the above question is no, the WEP and GPO should not affect you as long as neither you nor your spouse receive a pension from work not covered by Social Security.

Do you have 30 or more years of substantial earnings covered by Social Security?

If yes, you will be exempt from the WEP even if you are receiving a pension from work not covered by Social Security.

If no, you may be affected by the WEP if you are receiving a pension from work not covered by Social Security.

Are you retiring or retired under CSRS Offset?

If yes, you may be exempt or partially exempt from the WEP based on the number of years of substantial wages covered by Social Security you have completed. You may also be exempt from the GPO, since you may have paid Social Security taxes on your earnings during your last 60 months of government service. (Under certain conditions, Social Security requires fewer than 60 months for people whose last day of employment falls after June 30, 2004, and before March 2, 2009.)

If no, then this question is not applicable to you.

There have been many legislative efforts to to reduce or eliminate the WEP and the GPO for many years, but none have been enacted into law. Several bills have been introduced in the 116th Congress to modify these provisions.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.