GPO bills amend the Social Security Act to 1)provide that the reduction in Social Security benefits which are required in the case of spouses and surviving spouses who are receiving certain government pensions shall be equal to the amount by which the total amount of the combined monthly benefit (before reduction) and monthly pension exceeds $1200 or 2)eliminate the the GPO entirely. Go to the MARFE website to learn what you can do to help defeat the GPO offset. How the Government Offset Provision Works The GPO was passed as part of the Social Security (SSA) amendments of 1977. Prior to these amendments, there was a requirement that a male must have received 1/2 support from his spouse before being eligible for spousal SSA benefits. The 1977 amendments removed this 1/2 support requirement. Most men were not affected, but thousands of male Federal workers, not covered under SSA, would now be eligible for a spousal benefit. (These workers did not qualify for their own SSA benefit and they no longer had to meet the 1/2 support requirement.) The legislative purpose of the GPO inclusion in the 1977 amendments was to avoid this new financial burden on the SSA trust funds. SSA has a rule that a person cannot receive both his/her own SSA benefit plus a full SSA spousal benefit. This is the "dual entitlement" rule. The GPO, enacted in 1977, treated government pensions and annuities as though they were SSA benefits - this triggers the "dual entitlement" provision of the SSA Law. The GPO, as passed, affects both men and women. However, Congress provid- ed a transition period of five years for women, i.e. those women, eligible for their Federal annuity before December 1982, were exempt from the GPO. However, male Federal workers had to be eligible for their annuity before December 1982 AND have received 1/2 support from his spouse. The GPO, as applied, affects 2/3 of the Federal worker's annuity. In other words, 1/3 of the annuity is exempt from the GPO; the remainder, or 2/3, is subject to a dollar-for-dollar offset against the SSA payment. The offset was effective beginning December 1982. How does it Work? - An Example Federal Annuity $900.00 SS benefit received by spouse, based on spouse's work under SSA $800.00 Federal annuitant's spouse benefit before GPO applied $400.00 Federal annuitant's spouse benefit after GPO applied against 2/3 of the Federal annuity 900 x 2/3 = 600 Since $600 is greater than $400, there is Zero (0) SSA spousal benefit payable to the Federal annuitant. Note: If the spouse should pre-decease the Federal retiree, a larger SSA widow\er's benefit would be computed ($800). Federal retiree should be entitled to $200 from SSA ($800 offset $ for $ by 2/3 of the Federal Annuity- $600. Additional Important Facts The GPO refers to SSA benefits earned by the Federal retiree's husband or wife, NOT any SSA benefit earned by the Federal retiree. This latter situation is covered by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) discuss- ed elsewhere. The GPO does not affect the spouse's own SSA benefit if the Federal retir- ee should predecease the spouse, who then becomes eligible for a Federal Survivor's annuity. Neither the spouse's SS benefit nor the Federal Survivor's annuity are subject to offset. Exceptions: 1. The windfall reduction formula does not apply to federal survivor annuities. 2. The reduction will not apply if a person has 30 years of substantial earnings as defined by Social Security. (NOTE: Workers who have 21-29 years of substantial earnings receive a lesser reduction.) 3. Anyone who became eligible for his/her government annuity before 1986, or became 62 or disabled before 1986, is exempt. "Eligible" means a person meets the age and length of service requirements for immediate retirement. 4. Federal employees mandatorily covered by Social Security on January 1, 1984 are exempt. 5. Anyone whose only pension from noncovered employment is based on railroad employment is also exempt. 6. People whose only pension is from noncovered employment prior to 1957 are exempt. 7. Effective January 1, 1995, military reserve pensions are exempt. For those with relatively low government annuities, the legislation provides for a guarantee. The guarantee is that the reduction of the Social Security benefit cannot be more than one-half of the amount of that part of the government annuity attributable to earnings after 1956 not covered by Social Security.