Q. I would like to know who is responsible for informing employees who work for the government of the windfall elimination provision. I was not told about the WEP until I went to the Social Security office to file for my Social Security retirement. My Social Security benefits were reduced by more than $1,000 per month. I worked hard all my life with two jobs for over 30 years. For what? Just to have my benefits go to someone who did not work but gets benefits. How are you to be informed of this law?

A. First, let’s get one thing straight. The windfall elimination provision was made law to correct an inequity in the Social Security act. Under the old law, employees who worked in a retirement system in which they didn’t pay Social Security taxes, such as CSRS, but were eligible for a Social Security benefit because of periods of outside employment, were often treated as if they were low-income workers and treated more generously. To learn both the logic and the method used to eliminate that windfall, go to www.ssa.gov/pubs/10045.html. It’s enough to note here that if you had 30 years of substantial earnings under Social Security, there wouldn’t be any reduction in your Social Security benefit. The maximum reduction would be for anyone who had 20 or fewer years of substantial earnings.

No one is specifically charged with telling employees about how work outside of their civilian government employment might affect their outside employment benefit. However, the topic is routinely covered in retirement seminars and is available from the Social Security Administration in publications such as the one cited above.

Your remark about “your benefits” going to someone who did not work is gratuitous, insulting and plain wrong.


About Author

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

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