Retirees who have been government workers or whose spouses have been government workers may be in for a surprise when they file for Social Security retirement benefits. What they may not realize is that the benefit values listed on page two of their Social Security statement (downloadable at SSA.gov) are estimates only. These estimates can differ significantly from their actual benefits due to the effect of government employment.

There are two provisions to the administration of Social Security benefits, which may significantly reduce retirement benefits received by state or local government employees, such as teachers, police, firefighters or other government workers. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) regulates the benefit received by the worker. The Government Pension Offset (GPO) is a separate provision, which regulates the spousal benefits being claimed by the spouse of a government worker.

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