Retirement income is often thought of as a “three-legged stool,” the legs being personal savings, pension and Social Security.  For most state and local government employees, the personal savings part is their public employee deferred compensation plan at work. What a great way to save!  The pension leg is very solid, usually not having given way to the riskier 401k approach. 

As for Social Security benefits, it depends. Many public employees participate in Social Security for their whole careers. But others do not. This website and links to government and other publications provides the information needed to understand this benefit landscape.  Click on the subjects below to obtain more information and connections to government and other sources.

Social Security

It is estimated that 28% or 6.5 million of state and local government employees, such as public school teachers and those in fire/police/EMS, do not participate in Social Security. This materially affects their future retirement benefits. These public servants need to know the rules and their projected benefits in order to plan for a secure retirement.

Windfall Elimination Provision

For retirees who have a pension from work outside of the Social Security system, the monthly benefit they earn is calculated using the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

Government Pension Offset

Another provision that may affect the Social Security benefit received by a retiree with a state or local government pension is the Government Pension Offset (GPO). The scope of the Government Pension Offset is limited; it affects only the Social Security benefits that you might receive from your wife or husband’s Social Security record.

In presenting this material, we will alternatively use the phrases “Social Security” and “SSA,” the latter referring to the Social Security Act or the Social Security Administration.

Good luck on your journey to understanding this important benefit.  And thank you for your career commitment to public service.