How WEP can affect a person’s Social Security

Q: My wife is 67 and currently receiving Social Security benefits. She began receiving Social Security disability at age 62, which then reverted to regular benefits last year.

I am 62 and on a civil service retirement. I am currently working and have worked for the last five years on a job that pays into Social Security. I hope to continue to work a few more years. Prior to my current employment I paid into Social Security when I was in my teens for five years.

At age 21 I started working for the federal government and didn’t pay into Social Security for 37 years. What are my best options based on my current situation? I have worked in high-paying positions for the last five-plus years. — Mel Smith, Dallas

A: You are asking what some have often as the million-dollar question. And since we don’t have all the details, we’ll have to touch on some of the factors that will affect your benefit and then offer you some general guidance.

So, first, it seems any Social Security benefits you receive will be affected by WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision) or GPO (Government Pension Offset), says Jim Blankenship, author of A Social Security Owner’s Manual. Read Windfall Elimination Provision, Government Pension Offset, and Calculators: GPO Calculator.

Those two programs, says Blankenship, reduce the amount of Social Security benefit that you receive from different sources, based upon the pension you’re receiving from the non-Social Security-covered source. “This is also assuming that you’re currently receiving a pension from the federal government,” says Blankenship. “I assume this as you stated you are on a civil service retirement.”

To be specific, the WEP, enacted in 1983, reduces Social Security benefit payments to beneficiaries whose work histories include both Social Security-covered and non-covered employment, with the non-covered employment also providing pension coverage, according to a…

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