If you are a teacher in California, the rules for collecting a California Teacher’s Retirement System (CalSTRS) pension and Social Security can be confusing and intimidating. They don’t have to be!
Here’s a closer look at the rules on teacher’s retirement and Social Security.
In the 1970s and 1980s, laws were passed that amended the Social Security Act in an effort to keep individuals from “double dipping” – receiving both a Social Security benefit and a pension from work where they did not pay into the Social Security system. The results of these amendments are two rules that could impact your ability to claim a full Social Security benefit: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO).
These provisions reduce benefits for those who worked in a job in which they qualified for a pension and did not have to pay Social Security taxes.
Since your Social Security statement does not reflect the reduction in benefits thanks to your state-run teacher’s pension, it’s hard to know what to expect if you qualify for both.
The WEP rule only applies to individuals who are entitled to a Social Security benefit based on their own work history and have a pension from work where they did not pay Social Security tax. Meanwhile, the GPO rule only applies to individuals who are entitled to a Social Security benefit as a survivor or spouse and have a pension from work in which they did not pay Social Security tax.
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