Ask Larry

Why Am I Being Penalized For Having A Separate Retirement Plan?

I receive pension from Cal-pers. I also worked in the private industry as well.
When I applied for SSI I was told by the administration that I’d receive $677 per month. Later I received a letter saying the amount will be reduced to $292 per month.
When u called SSI to inquire why…the clerk told me “you make enough from Cal-pers and it’s been decided that you do not need the rest.
This is not right. I’m not asking for money that I haven’t earned. Why am I being penalized for having a separate retirement plan?
Thank you for your time.

Hi. It sounds like the reduction in your benefit rate is due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). WEP can cause a person's Social Security retirement benefit to be calculated using an alternate, less generous, computational formula than the one normally used if the person also receives a pension based on their earnings that weren't subject to Social Security taxes.

The WEP provision was added to the Social Security law by Congress in 1983. Their justification for the adding WEP is summarized in the following Social Security publication:

There isn't enough information in your question for me to know if your benefit rate has been correctly calculated, but you could use the benefit calculator included in our software ( to find out. Our benefit calculator is fully programmed to handle WEP calculations.

Best, Jerry

Oct 20 2021 - 9:02am
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