Pensions and Social Security, Part 3 – GPO

For the relatively few people involved, today completes the series about pensions that might affect Social Security benefits. 

The general rule is that your company pension will not affect your Social Security benefits because most employment is covered by Social Security.  

The usual exception to this are pensions from government employment not covered by Social Security. A government pension from work covered by Social Security will not affect SSA benefits.

Not covered by Social Security means you did not pay Social Security payroll tax on those earnings, you did not earn coverage for SSA benefits and those earnings do not appear on your SSA work record. Any government level can be involved, not just Federal or state. Local government employment, including school districts, may or may not be covered by Social Security. 

Last week I discussed the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), when the person receives Social Security retirement on his or her own record through other work, separate from the non-covered government employment.

Today’s topic is the Government Pension Offset (GPO), involved when the Social Security benefits are through someone else’s record rather than your own work. The GPO affects SSA benefits as a spouse, widow or widower and is a direct offset by the government pension against Social Security benefits.

The Government Pension Offset reduces the amount of your Social Security spouse’s, widow’s or widower’s benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension. The GPO can offset the total Social Security benefit.

Estimating the GPO amount is not hard. Do the math yourself or use the online GPO calculator. For example, if you receive a monthly civil service pension of $600, two-thirds of that, or $400, must be used to offset your Social Security spouse’s, widow’s or widower’s benefits. If you are eligible for a $500 spouse’s benefit, you will receive $100 per month from Social Security ($500 – $400 = $100).

Exemptions exist to the Government Pension Offset (GPO). More about the GPO is in SSA publication 05-10007, Government Pension Offset.

 Other factors that may affect Social Security benefits are part of the SSA online retirement planner at www.socialsecurity.gov.

 

 

 

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