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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13282
Experience:  19+ years legal exp. - 10+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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As a federal retiree I was forced to accept half of what I

Customer Question

As a federal retiree I was forced to accept half of what I earned under social security because I was called a "double dipper". Can that be restored? I have been collecting social security for about six years.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 9 months ago.

Hi, just to clarify for you, the WEP adjustment that was made on your SS benefit amount was not a halving of what you earned under SS. Rather, it is a correction of an incorrect SS estimate that you likely saw when you read your annual SS earnings statement. I can explain: if you are collecting a federal pension based on lifetime earnings that was never taxed by SS tax (and therefor never reported by IRS to SSA), then your estimate of what you thought you'd be getting was inaccurate. This is because the SSA had you in a "poor" lifetime earner category and the calculation use for the estimate gave you a welfare rate of retirement, which it doesn't give to typical lifetime earners. This welfare rate, that is an increase to your SS benefit amount, is only for the poor lifetime earner who also doesn't have any other government pension, so it was improperly applied to your numbers when your estimates were created. When you later filed for Social Security, 6 years ago, the SSA was informed of your other job that increased your lifetime average monthly income more than the SSA previously knew of. So instead of giving you the 50% welfare rate, it gave you the "normal" rate for normal earners, of, for instance, 25% - whatever amount is applicable to your real average lifetime monthly earnings. This WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision) is a correction, not a penalty, as some people believe. But I know it is a rude awakening if we were unaware of or incorrect amount represente don the estimate and it can be very frustrating.

None of this changes or is implicated by the new laws that are further eliminating some benefits options for some people. So you can not restore the correction, since that was not your entitlement ever - you were just relying on an inaccurate estimate (if you look at your annual earnings statement, you will see that when you read the entire thing, it does mention this possibility).

If you work 30 substantial years paying SS taxes on such earnings, your WEP wil no longer be applied to your numbers. And if you are very far from that, know that the closer you get to 30 years, the less the WEP applies - there is less of a correction. Also, if you DID pay SS taxes on that federal work, the WEP does NOT apply - so do make sure neither of those factors indicate a wrongful application of WEP.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 9 months ago.

I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions.

Kindly rate me "excellent"when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions. Be sure to start future posts with "To ***** Esq., ONLY" if you want me to specifically answer it.

Sincerely, ***** ***** Joy, Esq.

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