Social Security & Your CalPERS Pension
If you're eligible to receive a pension from an employer(s) who didn't withhold Social Security taxes from your earnings, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) may reduce your Social Security benefit. For example, teachers and most safety personnel, such as firefighters and police officers, don't pay into Social Security.
The Windfall Elimination Provision
In 1983, Congress passed the WEP to prevent employees who received non-covered (no Social Security taxes paid) pensions from the "windfall" of receiving the higher Social Security benefit calculation typically used for longtime, low-wage earners.
The WEP may reduce Social Security benefits for those who receive any portion of their pension not covered by Social Security, and also qualify for benefits based on other Social Security-covered earnings.
Below is detailed information that may apply to you as a CalPERS member:
- Not all CalPERS members are impacted by the WEP. You should check your warrant or pay stub to see if Social Security taxes have been withheld.
- Any reduction would be to your Social Security benefit, not your CalPERS pension.
- If you choose to take a refund of your CalPERS retirement contributions in a lump sum, Social Security will still calculate the reduction as if you had chosen to receive monthly payments for your government pension.
- The WEP may not apply if you have 30 or more years of substantial earnings in employment where you paid Social Security taxes. If you had between 20-30 years of substantial earnings covered by Social Security, the WEP may still apply, but at a reduced level.
For more information about how WEP works and a list of exceptions, review the Windfall Elimination Provision (PDF) and use the WEP Calculator to see how your Social Security benefit may be affected. You will need a copy of your earnings record to use the tool.
Government Pension Offset
The GPO applies when you receive a government pension that is based on employment not covered by Social Security, and you are eligible for your spouse or your surviving spouse's Social Security benefits.
The GPO provisions don't impact you if your employment has always been covered by Social Security.
For more information about GPO, you can review the Government Pension Offset (PDF) and use the GPO Calculator to see how benefits you may be eligible to receive based on your spouse's record might be affected.
my Social Security Account
Sign up for a my Social Security account to access your statement, review estimates of future Social Security retirement benefits, and more. The normal retirement calculators on the Social Security website will not reflect WEP or GPO reductions.
Who to Contact
If you believe your Social Security benefits are being reduced incorrectly by the WEP or GPO and you are unable to resolve the issue at the Social Security field office, you may escalate your case through one of the following methods:
- Contact the San Francisco Social Security Administration Public Affairs team or all (800) 772-1213 or for TTY users, (800) 325-0778.
- Contact the California Official State Social Security Administrator (SSSA) office by email or call (916) 795-0810. The SSSA serves as a liaison with the Social Security Administration to address coverage-related issues and questions.
- School members may also contact the California School Employees Association (CSEA) or call (800) 632-2128.