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Massachusetts Public Employees & Social Security Eligibility

Financial Advisor Tim Hayes AIF®, CRPS®, AWMA®, CFS®, APMA®

Public employees in Massachusetts do not contribute to Social Security; however, many do contribute through other jobs. Also, some have spouses who take part in the Social Security system. Either way, both scenarios get impacted by two federal laws.

  • The Windfall Elimination can reduce any Social Security earned by a public employee by as much as 55%. For example, a retired teacher receiving a pension from MTRS who also qualifies for a monthly Social Security benefit of $1,000 might only receive $450 a month.
  • The Government Pension Offset provision affects Social Security spouse’s or widow’s or widower’s benefits. For example, if a married teacher receives a pension from MTRS of $6,000 a month, two-thirds of that amount ($4,000) will be credited against any benefit from their spouse’s Social Security.
    • So, if a spouse dies and the retired teacher is eligible for $2,000 survivor benefit from Social Security, they would receive none of it because the $4,000 would eat into all of it.
    • Very few married people who retire with a pension from MTRS will receive anything from their spouse’s Social Security.
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Are There any Work Arounds?

There is for the Windfall Elimination. Any public employee in Massachusetts with 30 or more years of “substantial earnings” in a job where they paid into Social Security will receive their full benefit. In fact, after 25 years of such substantial earnings, any reduction in Social Security benefits begins to be reduced.

There is no such escape however from the Government Pension Offset

These are the opinions of Tim Hayes and not necessarily those of Cambridge Investment Research. They are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice. 

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Financial Advisor Tim Hayes AIF®, CRPS®, AWMA®, CFS®, APMA®


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