Substantial earnings and WEP


Q: I am a firefighter for a large city that has an employee-based pension system (not Social Security). I have also been a member of the National Guard and operated a private business for 30 years on which I paid Social Security tax. Several places on the Internet use the term “30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security” in reference to Government Pension Offset (GPO). My Social Security earning sheet shows $2,464 “Your Taxed SS Earning” in 1977 and runs $3,000 to $10,000 though 2006. What does “substantial” mean, and how will WEP and GPO affect me?

A: You’ll find the year-by-year list of dollar amounts that constitute substantial earnings at


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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