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Information from a MEA Member Regarding Social Security Reductions

My name is Rosemarie Homan and I am a MEA member and have worked for the City for almost 26 years. A lot of people are not aware of certain pension laws that will affect them once they retire. For example, if you receive a pension from a federal, state or local government based on work where you did not pay Social Security taxes, your spouse’s or widow’s or Social Security benefit may be reduced. In my case, I receive a widow’s pension from Social Security. When I retire and start receiving my City pension, my widow’s pension (Social Security) will be reduced by 2/3 from my City Pension. The rational for reducing my benefit is because I did not pay Social Security taxes during the 25 years that I worked for the City.

If you are also entitled to a local or state government pension but did not pay into Social Security, and you have enough quarters to receive any Social Security pension, it will be reduced by 2/3 and your spouse will have their pension reduced as well because they are entitled to half of your pension.  To be clear, you will still receive your full government pension, but your Social Security pension will be reduced by the 2/3 stipulation. For example, if your Social Security pension is $900 and your spouse is entitled to half ($450), their share will be reduced as well if they are receiving a city government or state pension.

Not only could your spouse’s benefit be reduced, but your own benefits may be reduced because of the Windfall Elimination Provision. This primarily affects you if you earned a pension in any job where you did not pay Social Security but you worked in other jobs long enough to quality for a Social Security retirement. This can impact teachers, police officers, firefighters, postal workers, civil servants and state nurses.

There are a number of bills in the House and Senate to repeal these pension laws that are unfair to employees. One such bill is the Social Security Fairness Act of 2013-HR1735 and S896. There is also a website titled Petition2Congress where you can send letters to your representatives in the House and Senate. We worked and paid taxes to both pension systems and we should not be penalized when we retire.