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I am making a career decision between the public sector and…

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Hi Pearl. I...

Hi Pearl. I am making a career decision between the public sector and the private sector. I want to understand how my lifetime contributions impact my retirement benefits. I started in the public sector for the State of Maine this past year and no longer contribute to SS but have a retirement benefit. I am deciding whether I should go back into the private sector and contribute more to improve my average contribution/salary.

Accountant's Assistant: These retirement benefits are supposed to help us but they can be so complicated! The Retirement Expert will help you get the most benefits propertly. Is there anything else important you think the Retirement Accountant should know?

I am age 56 and plan to retire in about 10 years. My salary over the past 15 years has been very good. Prior to that is was considerably less.

Submitted: 10 months ago.Category: Social Security
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Answered in 26 minutes by:
9/20/2017
Social Security Expert: SSA.Help4u.168, Accountant replied 10 months ago
SSA.Help4u.168
SSA.Help4u.168, Accountant
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 4,759
Experience: Tax Accountant
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Hello. Thank you for choosing this Q&A service for assistance. My name is Angela. I will be assisting you.

Social Security keeps a record year-to-year of how much you make, up to a certain ceiling, $127,200 for 2017. If you make anything above the ceiling, it does not go onto your work record and is not subject to the FICA tax that funds Social Security.

When you apply for benefits, computers at the agency will adjust or "index" your wage history to account for changes in average wages since the years that you received the earnings. The computers will focus on the 35 years in which you earned the most money. If you didn't work a full 35 years, zeroes will be substituted for those missing years.

The next step is to apply a special formula to those indexed earnings to arrive at your basic benefit, which Social Security calls your "primary insurance amount" (PIA). This is the sum you're eligible for at your full retirement age.

Working in the public sector can affect your benefits. When a person has worked in the public sector, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) comes into play. SEE BELOW:

The Windfall Elimination Provision can affect how we calculate your retirement or disability benefit. If you work for an employer who doesn’t withhold Social Security taxes from your salary, such as a government agency or an employer in another country, any retirement or disability pension you get from that work can reduce your Social Security benefits. When your benefits can be affected This provision can affect you when you earn a retirement or disability pension from an employer who didn’t withhold Social Security taxes and you qualify for Social Security retirement or disability benefits from work in other jobs for which you did pay taxes. The Windfall Elimination Provision can apply if: • You reached 62 after 1985; or • You became disabled after 1985; and • You first became eligible for a monthly pension based on work where you didn’t pay Social Security taxes after 1985. This rule applies even if you’re still working. For more detailed information on the WEP, you can view the document at the following link;

https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf

You can also view the following links for additional details.

https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/wep-chart.html

Let me know if I can be of further assistance to you regarding this matter. If I have addressed your concern(s), I ask that you be so kind as to scroll to the top of the page and select 3 or more stars to positively rate my response so that I can receive credit for assisting you. A 5 star rating is most appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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SSA.Help4u.168, Accountant
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