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).
Neither the GPO nor the WEP will reduce your SERS pension. They can affect only your Social Security benefit.
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 at www.ssa.gov, or telephone toll-free at 800-772-1213. The following is provided only as general information.
The Government Pension Offset
First, let’s determine if the GPO will affect you.
- The GPO applies to any SERS retiree who first became eligible to retire from SERS after July 1, 1983.
- The GPO applies only to those SERS retirees who receive, or will receive, a Social Security benefit based on their spouse’s Social Security account.
- This does include surviving spouses qualifying on an ex-spouse’s account.
- The GPO does NOT affect Medicare coverage.
Now, let’s explore 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 pension is $800, and when deducted from your Social Security benefit, this leaves you with a $200 Social Security benefit plus your full $1,200 SERS pension.
- Depending on your gross SERS pension and/or Social Security benefit amount, the GPO could eliminate your Social Security spousal benefit entirely.
- Please note: 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.
The Windfall Elimination Provision
Again, let’s first determine if the WEP affects you.
- The WEP affects SERS retirees who receive, or will receive, a Social Security benefit based on their own Social Security employment record.
- If you had a private sector job and contributed to Social Security for that job, the WEP may reduce any Social Security benefit you receive based on the private sector job.
- If you have 30 or more qualified years of earnings under Social Security, or you were eligible for either your Social Security benefit or SERS pension before 1986, the WEP will not affect your Social Security benefit. Review Chart A to determine what earnings make up a qualified year.
- The first table below lists substantial earnings for each year.
- The second table shows the percentage used to reduce the 90% factor depending on the number of years of substantial earnings.
- Again, the WEP will NOT reduce your SERS pension.
Now, let’s explore how the WEP works.
- The WEP modifies the formula that the SSA uses in calculating your Social Security benefit depending on the number of years you paid into Social Security.
- Please note: You should contact the SSA to determine the effect of the WEP on your Social Security benefit.
- You also can estimate your Social Security benefit using the WEP Online Calculator.