Subject to the WEP? Your Social Security Statement Is Probably Wrong!

Here's How To Calculate Your REAL Social Security Benefit

Social Security retirement benefits often make up a large portion of an individual’s retirement income. Throughout your lifetime, you can keep an eye on your projected retirement benefits on your annual Social Security statement or by looking at your online mySocialSecurity account (mySSA). It’s a great tool for making educated retirement planning decisions.

But what if your Social Security benefit’s estimate is incorrect by several hundred dollars per month? For some people, it is wrong. Even worse, they probably don’t know it is wrong.  What an awful retirement surprise!

SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT ESTIMATE IS WRONG

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Social Security and Lump Sum Pensions: What Public Servants Should Know

If you work for an employer who does not participate in Social Security but has their own pension instead, you probably know that your Social Security options can be complicated with tricky rules that only apply to teachers and other public servants.   These rules include the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset.

Individuals often look for a way to soften the impact of these rules. Time and again I hear individuals wondering if they can sidestep these rules by simply taking their pension in a lump sum. After all, in just about every reference to these rules, the Social Security Administration (SSA) says that the rules apply to individuals with a pension from work where no Social Security taxes were paid.

So…if there’s no a ‘pension’ being paid, do the rules still apply?

They do, but with a few exceptions. For certain individuals, taking a pension out in a lump sum can be a valid method of sidestepping these rules.  If this interests you, read on.  The rules for when and how are complicated, and you don’t want to mess this up.

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How To Calculate The WEP & GPO With Mixed Earnings Under The Same Retirement Plan

TRS and Social Security earnings

In several states, most school districts do not participate in Social Security. Instead, they have their own pension plan to which they contribute. But over time, a few school districts in these states have adopted agreements with the Social Security Administration which allows them to participate in both Social Security AND their own pension plan.

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Top 7 Social Security Tools for Public Servants

social security tools for public servants

Over the past few years I’ve produced a lot of content that covers the complicated Social Security rules for educators and other public servants. Now, as my website has experienced massive growth, the content I’ve created can be hard to find. It occurred to me the other day that I should build a one-stop article that has links to some of my most read and requested material in this area.

Hope you enjoy…

-Devin

1-Social Security for Educators (and other public servants)

This is the first, and most widely read article that broadly covers the topic of Social Security benefits for individuals with a non- covered pension (from a job where no SS tax was paid). This article has an overview of who is affected by the additional Social Security rules, the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset.

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Video: The “Why” Behind The Weird Social Security Rules For Educators

Social Security for Educators is the hottest topic that I speak on. At these speaking events I usually get asked a lot of questions. Many of them are similar from place to place, but there is always one question that is asked every time. Why?  Why do they pick on educators with these crazy Social Security rules?

In this video I’ll go into the thinking that went into setting up these weird rules.

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Video: Social Security for Educators (and other public servants)

Social Security is different for educators. It’s more complicated, and the rules aren’t always fair.

If you’re an educator, when your turn comes to file for Social Security benefits you may need to fight for what’s rightfully yours. But first, you need to understand the rules!

Thankfully, it’s not that hard. In this video I’ll help to simplify the rules.

Here are a few of the areas I’ll cover:
– How Your Teacher’s Pension Will Affect Your Benefit Amount
– The Windfall Elimination Provision
– The Government Pension Offset
– Can You Expect to Collect Spousal Benefits?
– Will You Be Eligible for Survivor Benefits?
– Strategies to Reduce the Impact of These Rules

 

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Mailbag: Trigger for The Government Pension Offset

answers to social security questions

This reader had a question about avoiding the Government Pension Offset for as long as possible.

QUESTION

Enjoyed your informative article (“Your Social Security and Retirement Benefits”) in the latest issue of ATPE News magazine.

I am an ex-serviceman (24-year career, US Army), currently a teacher, and will not be affected by the WEP when I retire and begin collecting my TRS pension.

I do have a question about the GPO:  Can a spouse who is paying into TRS, not retired, and at FRA (under Social Security rules) apply for a spousal support benefit (under SS) when her husband who is at FRA applies for SS benefits?

ANSWER

I like this kind of question. It makes me think!

What I’m pretty sure you’re asking is this: If you are not receiving your pension from non-covered work, does the Government Pension Offset apply?

The simple answer is…NO!

If you are still working and your spouse has filed for benefits, you can file for and receive a Social Security benefit that is not affected by the Government Pension Offset. Enjoy it while it last. Once you retire, your Social Security benefit will get reduced by 2/3 of the amount of your TRS pension.

A note for all readers.

Over the past few years, I’ve found that most Social Security questions can be answered with an understanding of just six  simple Social Security basics. I cover these basics in a 100% free report that you can download by clicking HERE.

If you still have questions after reading this report, send me an email.  I can’t promise that I’ll respond individually, but I love interacting with my readers and answering Social Security questions! The questions and answers that’ll have priority are those that may benefit a wider audience. I’ll answer the question individually and then publish the Q&A on my blog. (Don’t worry, I’ll change up enough personal details so you’ll stay unknown.)

If you want to make sure I answer your question, I am still accepting individual consultations. You can click HERE for more information on booking a call with me.

Thanks for reading!

 

Mailbag: Switching from Disability to Retirement Benefits

answers to social security questions

A reader has a question about the suitability of switching from Social Security disability benefits to Social Security retirement benefits.

QUESTION

Dear Mr.Carroll,

I was awarded Social Security disability before I turned 62. I and am now age 62 and am entitled to Social Security retirement benefits simultaneously with disability benefits. I’m thinking that the Social Security retirement benefits may yield me an overall larger family benefit (I have children at home).

Specifically, I am interested in how my Social Security full retirement age benefit may be calculated compared to how my disability benefit was calculated. 

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Mailbag: Non Typical Pension and The Windfall Elimination Provision

answers to social security questions

Question from a reader on what actually qualifies as a pension for purposes of applying the Windfall Elimination Provision.

QUESTION

Hi Devin,

I just listened to your interview on Radical Personal Finance. I was hoping for a more applied discussion, but Joshua couldn’t get off the politics! Ha. Oh, well. You’ll have to do another sometime.

I had a couple topics in mind where I have not found an answer to, and low and behold, you have a couple blog posts on it. Feel free to add these as addendums to the posts if that adds value/clarity to them.

You’re post entitled “What Illinois Teachers Need To Know About Social Security” hit home with me, as I am in the same situation as teachers in Illinois. I work for our University system here in Alaska, and we do not participate in SS taxes, aside from Medicare. Your explanation of WEP and GPO are the best I’ve seen, although the definition of what is and is not considered a “Pension” is one thing I have not found an answer to. My employer currently pays into 2 separate 401(a) accounts, one of which is actually called a “Pension“, but we manage and bear all investment risks in both accounts, so it’s not a guaranteed monthly income like a traditional pension. Am I correct in saying that the SS administration doesn’t care about the type of account, and that I’ll likely be subject to WEP when the time comes (assuming I meet the other conditions for WEP to become applicable to me)?

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Mailbag: Update on the Repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision

answers to social security questions

Kathleen asked me about the current status on the repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision.

QUESTION

Where do things stand legislatively now re Windfall Profit Elimination?

As someone who worked as a teacher for only 10 years–the rest of my employment having been primarily with non-profits–I’m suffering from the cuts to what would have been my  social security. To add insult to injury, California (at least) was not required to alert potential new teachers about the WEP effect until 2 months after I was employed, so I wasn’t informed about it until it was  close to my retirement.

I hope you can send me an update.

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