Social Security Administration: Revision to the Government Pension Offset Exemption Should Be Reconsidered

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Social Security benefits are payable to the spouses of retired, disabled, or deceased workers. The benefits often provide income to wives and husbands who have little or no Social Security benefits of their own. Until 1977, workers receiving pensions from government positions not covered by Social Security could receive their full pension benefit and their full spousal benefits as if they were nonworking spouses. Since then, a government pension offset has been in effect to equalize the treatment of workers covered by Social Security and those ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. August 15, 2002.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Social Security benefits are payable to the spouses of retired, disabled, or deceased workers. The benefits often provide income to wives and husbands who have little or no Social Security benefits of their own. Until 1977, workers receiving pensions from government positions not covered by Social Security could receive their full pension benefit and their full spousal benefits as if they were nonworking spouses. Since then, a government pension offset has been in effect to equalize the treatment of workers covered by Social Security and those with noncovered government benefits. This report was prompted by a referral to GAO's Fraudnet that questioned a practice in which individuals in Texas were transferring to Social Security-covered positions for one day to avoid the offset. GAO found no central data on the use of the offset exemption by individuals, and time constraints did not permit in-depth audit work on the 2,300 state and local government retirement plans. However, GAO did establish that, as of June 2002, more than 4,800 persons in Texas and Georgia worked for brief periods in jobs covered by Social Security to qualify for the "last-day exemption." GAO estimates that the long-term Social Security payments to these individuals could be as high as $450 million. Such abuses of the offset exemption could be prevented by (1) changing the last-day provision to a longer minimum time period or (2) using a proportional approach based on the number of working years as a government employee spent in covered and noncovered employment to determine the extent to which the government pension offset applies."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • August 15, 2002

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Social Security Administration: Revision to the Government Pension Offset Exemption Should Be Reconsidered, report, August 15, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc294723/: accessed October 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.