Laws that Affect Social Security Benefits
There are two provisions of law that affect the Social Security
benefits of many Federal employees. They are:
The Windfall Elimination Provision
Social Security benefits based on your own work. If you have
Federal service that was not covered by Social Security, you may
be subject to a law known as the Windfall Elimination Provision.
This may reduce the amount of your Social Security benefit based
on your own employment. The Windfall Elimination Provision
applies to people who receive pensions based on work that was not
subject to Social Security (such as CSRS) and who have less than
30 years of "substantial earnings" under Social Security. Under
this law, the Social Security Administration uses a modified
formula that results in a lower Social Security benefit.
You need to earn quite a bit more to be credited with a year of
"substantial earnings" than it takes to be credited with a year
of regular credit. For example, in 1996, with earnings of $2560,
you receive 1 year of credit, but it takes $11,625 to be
considered "substantial earnings".may apply to you regardless of
whether you retire under CSRS, CSRS Offset, or FERS.
Most agencies use software packages to do annuity estimates.
These programs also normally compute Social Security benefits,
including the adjustment for the Windfall Elimination Provision,
if applicable. If you think this provision will apply to you, you
should ask your agency if it can compute the benefit for you,
using the earnings statement you receive from the Social Security
The Government Pension Offset Provision
Social Security benefits based on your spouse's earnings. The
Government Pension Offset provision of the Social Security laws
affects Social Security spousal benefits. It only applies to
people who are covered by CSRS (people covered by CSRS Offset are
exempt from Public Pension Offset), or who transferred to FERS
after the 1987 open season and retire before being in FERS for 5
years. Generally, the Government Pension Offset will not affect
you if you will receive a Social Security benefit based on your
own employment. If you are affected by the Government Pension
Offset, your Social Security spousal or survivor's benefit will
be reduced by an amount equal to two-thirds of the amount of your
CSRS pension. For example, if you get a monthly CSRS pension of
$600, two thirds of that, or $400, must be used to offset your
Social Security spouse's or widow's benefits based on your
husband or wife's Social Security.
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