How Social Security Could Affect You
During your employment in a SERS-covered job, you do not pay into Social Security or accrue any Social Security benefits. However, most members have worked in one or more jobs covered by Social Security at some point during their lives.
If you are eligible for a Social Security benefit when you either retire with SERS or begin receiving a disability benefit, your Social Security benefit may be affected by federal law regulating Social Security benefits for public employees in non-Social Security states like Ohio. Your Social Security benefit may be reduced by either the Government Pension Offset (GPO) or the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).
The federal law does not affect your SERS pension; it affects only your Social Security benefit. Your SERS payment would not be reduced because of these Social Security laws. To learn more about the WEP and GPO penalties, read the Social Security Handout.
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 local Social Security Administration (SSA) office, visit the SSA website, or call the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
The Government Pension Offset (GPO)
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.
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 pension.
For example: Your SERS monthly pension is $1,200, and you also are entitled to a $1,000 Social Security spousal benefit. Two-thirds of your SERS benefit is $800, and when deducted from your Social Security benefit, leaves you with $200 in a Social Security benefit and your full $1,200 SERS pension.
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.
You must report cost-of-living adjustments or other increases in your SERS benefit to the SSA. These increases 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.
The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)
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.
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:
View / Download Social Security Handout
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.