Government Pension Offset

The government pension offset is a program by which those who have public pensions from employment not covered by Social Security do not benefit above and beyond others when they become eligible for Social Security Disability or retirement benefits. The government pension offset can affect anyone with a pension from an employer not subject to the Social Security Disability Insurance program. Most people affected by the government pension offset worked for the federal or state and local governments prior to 1983. Since 1983, these employees were brought into the Social Security Disability Insurance and other SSA programs

Since the beginning of Social Security Disability, retirement benefits, and survivor benefits, recipients have not been allowed to collect both their own Social Security retirement funds and their survivor funds. Rather, they collect the greater of the two. Essentially, their survivor benefits were reduced on a dollar for dollar basis by their own Social Security or pension benefits. Before the government pension offset, those who were employed by the government were able to sidestep this because their retirement benefits were not overseen by the Social Security Administration. Therefore, a widow (or widower) of a government employee was able to collect his or her survivor benefits (which were not overseen by Social Security) plus his or her own Social Security benefits.

The government pension offset provision was designed to bring government employees’ and their surviving spouses’ benefits more into line with what other retirees were able to receive. The government offset provision is not without detractors, and there is an ongoing attempt to repeal the provision, largely based on the fact that public pensions (such as those received by government employees) tend to require significantly larger contributions from the employer and the employee. Social Security Disability benefits are not generally affected by the government offset provision, which affects retirement and old age benefits.

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