Social Security and WEP specifics


Q: I recently went into the Social Security office and was given three different answers by three different people regarding offsets and the windfall elimination provision. I received an increase in my Social Security monthly payment for 2011 based on my 2009 earnings. In 2009, I made more then the minimum and qualified for another year (26 years now) toward my 30-year full exemption from the offset and windfall, so should Social Security also have given me an additional 5 percent because I now have one more year of substantial earnings toward my 30-year exemption?

I was told by the Social Security office that they do not recalculate it yearly and won’t until I get all 30 years completed. I will have 27 years when they calculate 2010 earnings next year. The real question is, are they supposed to calculate the additional year that I have earned toward my 30 years of substantial earnings immediately and give me money now, or do they wait until all 30 years are completed?

A: If you are subject to the windfall elimination provision, the reduction in your Social Security benefit is determined at the point you first become eligible for that benefit and is permanent. Any subsequent increases you are entitled to based either on cost-of-living adjustments or additional Social Security-covered earnings are simply added to that original, reduced base.


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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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