Q. I am a federal employee under FERS. I was a police officer for 21 years (I receive a pension) and did not pay into Social Security, except for a few years when I worked part-time jobs and made the “substantial earnings limit.” I was hired as a federal worker in 1995 and have 22 years of “substantial earnings” toward Social Security. I am now 64 and planning to retire, except I can’t figure out how much, if any, I will receive in Social Security. I went to a FERS retirement conference last summer, and it was my understanding that the maximum reduction from the windfall elimination provision would be about $380. According to the moderator, the government pension offset did not apply to government employees who paid into FERS during the last 60 months they were employed prior to their retirement date. Friends are telling me this is not correct and I need to check into it. Can you clear this up or direct me to someone who can?
A. The Social Security Administration has an online calculator you can use to estimate how much your Social Security benefit would be. You’ll find it at www.ssa.gov/retire2/anyPiaWepjs04.htm. As for the government pension offset, what the moderator told you is correct. You won’t be subject to the GPO if you paid Social Security taxes on your earnings for five years or more before retiring. You’ll find a list of the exceptions at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10007.html.