Is There Any Better Recourse Than Filing An Appeal?

Jun 19 2017 - 7:39am

My wife receives two payouts from the Ct. State Teachers Retirement Board (TRB): (A.) a Primary Monthly Benefit based on pretax mandatory contributions by both the state and her, whose payout is based on earnings and time in service plus and (B.) a Monthly Voluntary Account Annuity based on, elective, after tax contributions by her alone, whose payout is only the return of the contributions plus interest and is not part of the Primary benefit. After reading a letter from the TRB stating all this, the SSa is subjecting both payouts to the Government Pension Offset to reduce her benefit instead of just the earnings based Monthly Benefit. The SSa considers both payouts pensions because both are paid from the TRB, regardless of their fundamental differences. IRS pub 963 page 7-8 and multiple SS pubs clearly spelled out that a payout like the voluntary annuity should be excluded from the GPO. Yet the SS insists that their simplistic view applies. Are we missing something here? Is there no faster/better recourse other than a long and painful appeal? Thank you .

Hi,

I'm not familiar with the Connecticut Teacher's Retirement System, so I can't tell you whether or not SSA's interpretation is correct. However, I did locate this reference from Social Security's operations manual which may indicate that her whole pension would count for Government Pension Offset purposes: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0202608100BOS.

To answer your question, though, I don't believe there's any viable type of recourse in your case other than a formal appeal. You only have 60 days from the notice of determination in which to file an appeal, so you'd need to act timely (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10041.pdf).

Best, Jerry