Active Members FAQs
- How do I purchase my recruit training time?
You may log in to MyLAFPP to calculate a cost estimate. If, after reviewing the cost estimate, you want to purchase your recruit training time, you may submit your request through MyLAFPP, or by contacting Active Member Services at (213) 279-3140 or (844) 88-LAFPP (52377), or by e-mail at email@example.com. Learn more about purchasing recruit training time.
- Can I buy back my military time?
Yes. If you are an active member who served in the military or were employed by another public agency, you may be able to purchase that time under the Public Service Purchase (PSP) Program, subject to the requirements and limitations established by the PSP ordinance. Learn more about purchasing military or public service time.
- Which bonuses are pensionable?
Most Fire department bonuses are pensionable except for the Incident Management Team (IMT) and Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS) bonuses. Most Police department bonuses are pensionable except for the Field Assignment and Detective Incentive bonuses. The uniform allowance and overtime are not pensionable. Please refer to your bargaining unit’s MOU for more information on bonuses.
- I’m getting things organized and I’d like to give you records for my Dependent Child so that he/she is on file with your office if I die before him/her. Who receives those records in your office?
A Dependent Child is a child of a member who became mentally or physically disabled before age 21 and is not capable of earning a living. Dependent Children become eligible for benefits upon the death of their parent who is a member of the pension system. Since processing of the Dependent Child benefits does not start until the death of the pension member, it would be prudent to keep essential documents available for others to provide the Fire and Police Pensions Department upon your death. We also encourage you to submit copies of any documentation you may have in person or by mail to: Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions, ATTN: Disability Pensions Section, 701 East Third Street, Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90013. The information you collect to document the disabling condition may include medical records, school records, Social Security benefits, assisted living or institutionalization records, etc. In addition, we will also need the birth certificate for your child, marriage certificate for you and your spouse, any previous dissolution decrees for prior marriages, guardianship/conservatorship papers, and a written request for the child to be granted dependent child status. A letter confirming our receipt of your documentation is usually mailed within 10 business days.
- Can I establish reciprocity with an agency I worked for previously?
No. Currently, there are no reciprocity agreements between outside agencies and the City of Los Angeles Fire & Police Pension System.
- I’m applying for a mortgage loan and the bank is asking for the current balance of my pension contributions. How can I get a copy of my contribution statement?
Login to your MyLAFPP account to view the current balance of your pension contributions. You may also obtain a copy of the year-end statement by clicking on Forms & correspondence on your MyLAFPP account.
If you do not have access to MyLAFPP or you need a formal letter showing your current pension contributions balance, please complete a Request for Contributions Statement form.
- I’m in the process of getting a divorce. How can I obtain the value of my pension?
LAFPP does not provide pension values. The value of your pension or the “accrued pension benefit” must be determined by an actuary. However, we can provide you a divorce contribution letter which contains information that will help calculate the value of your pension benefit. To request a divorce contribution letter, please complete a Request for Contributions Statement form.
For information on how a divorce may affect your pension benefits, please review our Dissolution of Marriage Guide.
- Can I work when I’m on a disability pension?
Members of the pension system are allowed to work if they are on a disability pension. However, they should be aware of any work restrictions that the pension doctors assigned to them when the pension was granted. If they are working in a capacity that exceeds the work restrictions of the pension doctors, the Board of Fire and Police Pension Commissioners has the authority to review the pension and adjust it accordingly if it is determined that the disability status has changed.
- Can my disability pension be reviewed even though a scheduled or periodic review was not assigned?
Yes. Some disability pensions are granted with a scheduled review. These are typically cases where the disability is determined to have a potential to change in the near future and the Board reviews the granted disability to make any adjustments to the pension that may be warranted. However, the City Charter and Administrative Code grants the Board of Fire and Police Pension Commissioners the authority to review all disability pensions.
- Do I need an attorney/representative if I apply for a disability pension?
In filing for a service-connected/nonservice-connected disability pension, the choice to retain representation is entirely up to you. Applicants who seek representation must be represented by either legal counsel or by a representative of an organization registered with the City Clerk’s Office (e.g. LAPPL, UFLAC, etc.). Applicants may choose to represent themselves.
Note: LAFPP staff is prohibited from providing copies of psychiatric medical reports directly to an applicant who is not represented by an attorney, based on professional advice from psychiatrists that providing these documents to an applicant who filed a psychiatric claim might cause harm to the applicant.
Disability Pension cases are presented to the Board of Fire and Police Pension Commissioners in one of two manners:
The first is when the applicant agrees with all of the elements of the recommendation that staff provides to the Board regarding the pension application. In this situation, when the case is at the Board, the Board votes on the case and reads the file into the record with the understanding that all interested parties agree with the recommendation. It typically takes less than 5 minutes for the Board to complete their necessary administrative actions.
All other cases are scheduled on the Board’s agenda with the understanding that there is disagreement with some or all of staff’s recommendation on the disability application. In these scenarios, the applicant or applicant’s attorney/representative is given the opportunity to present supporting evidence and oral testimony to the Board and explain any disagreements with staff’s recommendation.
Not all of the cases that go to the Board have representation. Again, it is an individual decision that needs to be made by you, as you know the complexity of your case. Some of these cases have taken up to an hour to present to the Board, depending on the complexities of the case. The Hearing is not adversarial, just an opportunity for the applicant/attorney to explain any disagreements with the recommendation.
An applicant who represents him or herself at a concluded hearing may request a rehearing within 90 days after the Board has adopted the Findings of Fact for the purpose of being represented by legal counsel.
- What is recaptured by Workers’ Compensation if I get a disability/surviving spouse pension?
If a Disability Pension is granted, service connected or non-service connected, regardless of the disability involved, the following will be recaptured by Workers’ Compensation:
- All permanent disability cash awards, including attorney’s fees
- Temporary Disability paid at State Rate
- Advances from permanent disability
- Vocational Rehabilitation Maintenance Allowance
Arrangements for the recapture of funds are made with the Accounting Section of the Department of Fire and Police Pensions and the City’s third-party Workers’ Compensation administrator.
Note: Surviving Spouses are not required to pay back Workers’ Compensation awards of a member’s prior injuries. State Death Benefits payable to a surviving spouse may be recapturable.
- What is a domestic partner?
Domestic partners are two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship and meet the eligibility requirements where their domestic partnership is filed.
- What benefits can a qualified domestic partner get?
Domestic partners may qualify for the same survivor benefits available under the Plan as a surviving spouse if the partners have filed a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with either the Fire and Police Pension Plan (Plan) or the State of California (the State). If your domestic partnership was registered with a state other than California, your document(s) will need to be reviewed and approved by the City Attorney’s Office. Learn more about filing your Domestic Partnership with LAFPP.
- Should I file with the State or the Plan?
The Plan and the State have separate programs for establishing domestic partnerships with different requirements, rights, and responsibilities. Filing with either the Plan or the State makes your domestic partner eligible to qualify for benefits provided to a qualified surviving spouse by the Plan. The eligibility requirements for a qualified domestic partner are essentially the same as for a qualified surviving spouse.
a. Filing with the State. The State domestic partner filing provisions are set forth in the California Family Code. State filing gives registered couples rights, protections, benefits and responsibilities similar in most aspects to those of married couples. The partner will be treated the same as a spouse for purposes of qualifying for survivorship benefits or receiving contributions from the Plan, if a member dies. Further information and the State filing form can be obtained from the office of the Secretary of State. To learn more about filing a state-registered domestic partnership, visit the California Secretary of State’s website. Also, see FAQ #10 to find out how your benefits may be affected if you terminate a state-registered domestic partnership.
b. Filing with the Plan. Same sex couples and opposite sex couples meeting the Plan’s domestic partnership requirements are eligible to file with the Board of Fire & Police Pension Commissioners. Registration with the Plan only relates to benefits payable by the Plan (survivor pension and health subsidy after a member dies). You must file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Board of Fire & Police Pension Commissioners. Registering your domestic partnership with your employing department or the City’s Personnel Department does NOT qualify a domestic partner for survivorship benefits from the Plan.
Note: No survivorship nor health coverage benefits are available to domestic partners that are not registered with LAFPP or the State.
- What are the domestic partner eligibility requirements for receiving a survivor pension?
The requirements for qualified domestic partner pension benefits are the same as for a qualified surviving spouse. Following are the requirements to receive a surviving spouse/domestic partner pension:
- Service Pension – if your spouse/domestic partner retires on a service pension, to qualify for a survivor pension you must be married to or be a state-registered or Plan-registered domestic partner of the member for at least one year prior to the effective date of the pension and on the date of death.
- Service-Connected Disability Pension -you must be married to or be a state-registered or Plan-registered domestic partner of the member on the effective date of the pension and on the date of death.
- Service-Connected Death – you must be married to or be a state-registered or Plan-registered domestic partner of the member on the date of death. (If your spouse/partner were to die on active duty as a result of their duties as a police officer or firefighter, the City’s Personnel Department will administer your health plan and subsidy. Additional information on this program can be obtained by calling Personnel’s Employee Benefits Section at (213) 978-1655).
- Non-Service Connected Death and Non-Service Connected Disability Pension – you must be married to or be a state-registered or Plan-registered domestic partner of the member at least one year prior to the effective date of the pension and on the date of death. The member must also have had at least 5 years of service. (Note that the member must have had at least 10 years of service for the member or the surviving spouse/domestic partner to qualify for a health subsidy.)
- What are the domestic partner eligibility requirements for receiving a surviving spouse/domestic partner health subsidy?
If you receive a qualified surviving spouse/domestic partner pension, you are eligible for a health subsidy if the following conditions are met:
- You are enrolled in a Board-approved health plan.
- The member had at least 10 years of service.
- The member would have been at least 55 years old. Learn more about surviving spouse/domestic partner health benefits.
- When are qualified domestic partners eligible to begin receiving the pension and health subsidy benefits?
The effective date of this benefit is January 17, 2000. However, you must meet the eligibility requirements for the various types of pensions. Those requirements are covered above in Question #4.
- I am already retired. Can I file a domestic partner declaration and qualify my domestic partner for a pension?
Although your domestic partner will not qualify for the standard survivor pension benefits under the Plan (see FAQ # 4), you may elect to purchase a survivor benefit for your domestic partner by paying the full actuarial cost of the benefit. Learn more about the Survivor Benefit Purchase Program.
- If I filed a domestic partner affidavit with the City’s Personnel Department, do I still have to file one with LAFPP?
If the affidavit filed with the Personnel Department is verified and you filed a Declaration of Domestic Partnership form prior to March 31, 2000, the effective date of your domestic partnership will be the date you filed with the Personnel Department.
If you file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Department of Fire & Police Pensions after March 31, 2000, the effective date of your domestic partnership is the date the Department of Fire & Police Pensions receives your application.
- If I file a domestic partner declaration with LAFPP, should I still file one with the Personnel Department?
The form you file with the Fire & Police Pension System is for pension benefits and retiree health subsidy. If you are an active employee and want to cover your domestic partner on your health insurance, you must file a form with the City’s Personnel Department. Call the Employee Benefits Section at (213) 978-1655 to get a form.
- How are my benefits affected if I terminate a domestic partnership?
Under state law, your Plan benefits become subject to community property law if your domestic partnership is state-registered. Court proceedings are normally required to terminate state-registered domestic partnerships, just as with marriages, and the community property interest in your benefits is subject to division by the court in the same manner as when a marriage is terminated. In the event your benefit is divided, any payments to the former state-registered domestic partner or their beneficiaries, will be reported as taxable income to you. To learn more about terminating a state-registered domestic partnership, visit the California Secretary of State’s website.
- How do I terminate a domestic partnership?
Filing solely with the Plan will not create community property rights in your pension benefits or inheritance rights to your contributions. Termination of these partnerships is governed by the Plan provisions and does not require court action. A Plan-registered domestic partnership terminates when any of the following occurs:
- One partner gives or sends by certified mail, to the other partner a written notice that he or she is terminating the partnership.
- One of the domestic partners dies.
- One of the domestic partners marries.
Whenever one of these events ends the partnership, one of the domestic partners must file a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership Form with the Department of Fire & Police Pensions.
A new Declaration of Domestic Partnership cannot be filed until at least six months after the filing of a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership. The six-month waiting period does not apply where the domestic partnership was terminated because of death or marriage.
- Whom should I contact if I have other questions about domestic partners?
If you have more questions, please contact the Active Member Services Section at (213) 279-3140 or (844) 88-LAFPP (52377) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public Service Purchase
- What is the Public Service Purchase (PSP) Program?
PSP is a voluntary program that allows members of the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension (LAFPP) Plan who served in the military or were employed by other public agencies to purchase service credit in the pension plan, subject to requirements and limitations established by ordinance.
- Can I use my DROP money to purchase service credit?
No, you cannot use your DROP money to purchase service credit. Service credit must be purchased prior to DROP entry or service retirement.
- What types of funds can I use to make a purchase?
A Trustee-to-Trustee Transfer/Direct Rollover from another eligible retirement plan is acceptable, provided the funds are pre-tax, from a different California public pension plan, and you will not be entitled to any non-LAFPP retirement benefits based on the contributions you have rolled over.
- What is the advantage of purchasing service credit?
The service credit you purchase will count towards increasing the monthly pension allowance that you and your qualified survivors would receive from LAFPP.
- How do I apply for PSP?
- Will the time I purchase count toward DROP or health subsidy eligibility requirements or other plan benefits?
No. Purchased service credit will not count toward years of service credit for health subsidy credit, eligibility for service retirement or eligibility to enter DROP. It also does not count toward years of service for ceasing your employee pension contributions. It will only count toward increasing your monthly pension allowance and any survivorship benefits.
- Who do I contact to apply for PSP?
Contact the Active Member Services Section at (213) 279-3140 or (844) 88-LAFPP (52377).
- What types of service can I purchase?
Eligible types of service that can be purchased include service with:
- a branch of the United States military, but only if the member was honorably discharged;
- a bonafide police agency or fire suppression agency, but only if the member was not terminated for cause; and
- any agency of the United States Government: Federal, State or local, or Postal Service.
The eligible service must be a minimum of six months of full-time, uninterrupted service with an eligible public entity.
- How many years can I purchase?
If you purchase PSP time, you must purchase a minimum of six months and may purchase up to a maximum of four years of service.
- How much will it cost?
You will pay the full actuarial cost determined by our actuary. Factors that will be considered in the actuarial assumptions include:
- member’s age;
- date benefits will first become payable;
- number of possible beneficiaries;
- ages of survivors;
- member’s pension base;
- investment earnings rate assumed by the plan; and
- any other factors that are relevant to cost neutrality.
The PSP ordinance requires that the program be cost neutral. Therefore, the member will be required to pay the full cost of the benefit. The purchased service includes your contribution plus the City’s cost. All purchases completed more than 180 days prior to a member’s entry into DROP or their retirement date will be trued up. An actuarial calculation will be performed to determine the change in the total purchase amount.
The following is an example of a comparison of pension benefits for a Tier 5 member with a final average salary of $8,000 per month and 25 years of service, who purchases four years under the PSP program:
Pension Benefits Without PSP Pension Benefits With PSP FAS – $8,000 FAS – $8,000 25 YOS – 65% 29 YOS – 77% Pension – $5,200 Pension – $6,160 ($960 more per month) Survivor – $3,120 Survivor – $3,696 ($576 more per month)
In the above example, under the PSP Program the member is responsible for paying the full cost of the increased pension and survivor benefits gained from the additional years of service purchased.
A PSP calculator is available when you log in to MyLAFPP to provide an estimate of the cost of the additional service credit based on the above factors.
- What does “cost neutral” mean in relation to the PSP Program?
One of the key provisions of the PSP program is that it must be cost neutral. This means that in addition to the normal member pension contribution rate of 8, 9 or 11%, the member is responsible for paying the full cost of each additional year of service that is purchased. For example, Tier 5 members currently pay 9% of salary in pension contributions, while the City contributes approximately 21% of sworn payroll toward the pension system (does not account for the City’s additional contributions to pay down any unfunded liability or retiree health benefits). Combined they represent approximately 30% per year to fund the pension system. However, the individual cost factors used to determine your cost for each year of service purchased may increase the combined cost. The cost factors used to establish the actuarial cost for PSP include:
- member’s age;
- date benefits will first become payable;
- number of survivors;
- ages of survivors;
- member’s pension base;
- investment earnings rate assumed by the plan; and
- any other factors that are relevant to cost neutrality for the pension plan.
- Why is it so much more costly than purchasing my recruit training time?
There is no cost neutrality provision for purchasing City of Los Angeles training time which is provided for under a different section of the Charter. Therefore, you only pay your pension contributions plus any applicable interest.
- Is there a way to determine if this purchase will benefit me?
You may log in to MyLAFPP and use the Public Service Purchase Estimate calculator to get an estimated cost of the additional service credit and the additional monthly amount it would provide. We strongly recommend that you discuss this option with your financial advisor to determine if this purchase would be beneficial for you. Consider your overall financial situation and retirement needs very carefully before making this decision.
- What payment options are available?
You have a choice of the following payment options (may combine) subject to applicable IRS provisions:
- Lump sum payment – a single payment for the total projected cost;
- Payroll deduction – automatic monthly deductions from your paycheck (maximum of 780 payments); and
- Trustee-to-Trustee Transfer from the City’s Deferred Compensation Plan or another eligible retirement plan within the state of California
Refund of Contributions
- Will my refund be reported to the IRS?
Yes. A Form 1099-R will be mailed to the address on your refund form by January 31st of the following calendar year for your tax filing purposes. Please keep your mailing address current with LAFPP.
- Can I receive both a lifetime pension and a refund of contributions?
No, once you withdraw your contributions, your membership with LAFPP is terminated and you are no longer entitled to retirement, health/dental subsidy, death, or survivorship benefits.
- How can I find out the status of my refund?
Please call Active Member Services at (213) 279-3140 to obtain the status.
- What if I submitted my refund packet and then change my mind?
If you contact us 2 weeks prior to the issue date of your refund, you can request to cancel the refund in writing. Otherwise, we will be unable to accommodate your request. However, if you return to the City and resume LAFPP membership, you may restore your service credit by purchasing prior service.
I am resigning from the department. What is the processing time for my refund of contributions?
It generally takes 12 to 16 weeks upon termination of your employment to process a refund of contributions. It could take longer if there is a divorce claim or garnishment court order on file.
Active Member Services receives a Payroll Change Document (Form 41) from your employing department 6 to 8 weeks after your resignation/termination. Your payroll status must be changed (active to terminated) by your department before the refund process can begin. You will know your status has been changed when you receive payment for your remaining vacation and/or overtime balances. (Sick time is not eligible for separation payout).
Upon receipt and verification of your Form 41, a refund packet consisting of the following will be sent to you:
- Letter – estimate of your refund providing the taxable and non-taxable portions
- Special Tax Notice Regarding Your Rollover Options under a Governmental 401(a) Plan – summarizes tax information and options available to you
- Distribution Election and Rollover Forms – forms you must complete and sign; one for the taxable portion, and another for any non-taxable portion
- Refund of Contributions Questionnaire – form you must complete and sign. It consists of basic questions with “yes” or “no” answers to help us in the timely processing of your refund
- Request for Refund of Contributions – form you must complete and sign with a Notary Acknowledgement, unless your signature is witnessed by a Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions staff member.
- What if I die before I receive my refund?
If you designated a beneficiary before you terminated, we will issue the refund to your designated beneficiary.
If you do not have a beneficiary designation on file, the refund will be paid in the following order: 1) your surviving spouse or, if none, 2) your children or, if none, 3) your parents, if none of these survive you, 4) your estate. However, if your total estate (including the refund) is greater than $150,000, then the funds will not be released until probate is completed.
- I separated from City employment and want a refund of my contributions. How do I obtain a refund?
- 100% refund: a check will be issued to you. If you do not elect a direct rollover to an IRA or qualified retirement plan, LAFPP is required to withhold 20% of the payment for federal income tax and, if you choose, we will withhold 10% of your federal income tax withholding amount for state income tax. You may elect to opt out of the California state income tax withholding only. A 1099-R Tax Form will be mailed to you for your tax records the following January 31st. Please keep your mailing address current with LAFPP.
- 100% rollover: a check will be issued to an IRA or a qualified retirement plan if you have an open account. There will be no taxes withheld or penalties applied under this method. Example: Voya Financial Deferred Compensation Plan.
- Combination: You may elect a combination of a cash refund and a rollover. Please apportion the amount you want as a cash refund and the amount you want as a rollover when filling out your refund forms.
Once your completed forms are signed and notarized, please mail the original set to us at: Los Angeles Fire & Police Pensions, Attn: Active Member Services, 701 E. Third Street, Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
Note: Forms require notarization. If you come in person to sign the forms, you do not have to pay for notary service. If you require assistance in completing refund forms, please call Active Member Services at (213) 279-3140 to make an appointment and a staff member will assist you.
Once your refund packet is received, it will be processed in approximately 6 to 8 weeks, provided all forms are completed correctly. Your refund may take longer if there is a court-ordered community property division or back pay of child/spousal support payments.
- Will you accept a faxed election form?
No. You must notarize one (1) form and submit the original signed forms unless you wish to make an appointment and come in person with a valid government-issued ID. You may also mail or drop off the forms to us. Make sure to retain a copy for yourself.
- Is my refund of contributions taxable?
Yes, the taxable portion of your refund is taxable as ordinary income.
- Is there a penalty for early withdrawal?
Yes, if you are under age 50 (for public safety employees), you will be subject to a 10% Federal and 2½% California state tax penalty for early distribution on your taxable portion. You may defer taxes if you rollover the taxable portion of your refund into another tax qualified account within 60 days. (As amended by the Pension Protection Act of 2006)
- Can my refund be rolled over to an IRA?
Yes. If we issued your refund prior to the calendar year you attained age 72 (age 70 1/2 for those individuals who attain age 70 ½ before December 31, 2019), the entire taxable portion of your refund is eligible to be rolled into an IRA or a qualified retirement plan. If the refund is paid in the calendar year you turned 72 (70 ½ for those individuals who attain age 70 ½ before December 31, 2019) or later, a portion of the refund will not be eligible for rollover due to the IRS’ required minimum distribution regulations. Please seek professional tax advice for additional information.
- Do you withhold federal income tax from a refund payment that is not rolled into an IRA or other eligible savings plan?
Yes. If your refund is issued before you turn age 72 (age 70 ½ for those individuals who attain age 70 ½ before December 31, 2019), it is subject to a mandatory 20% federal income tax withholding.
- Do you withhold state income tax from a refund payment that is not rolled into an IRA or other eligible savings plan?
Regardless of your age when the refund is paid, California state income tax withholding is optional. However, when you file your taxes during tax season, you will be liable for the state income tax on the taxable amount. An amount equal to 10% of the mandatory federal income tax withholding will automatically be withheld if you live in California and you do not make an election.
Social Security and Your LAFPP Pension
- Will my City pension impact my Social Security retirement benefit?
Yes. If you receive a pension from employment in which you did not pay Social Security taxes and you also qualify for your own Social Security retirement or disability benefit, your Social Security benefit may be reduced, but not eliminated, by the Windfall Elimination Provision. The amount of the reduction, if any, depends on your earnings and number of years in jobs in which you paid Social Security taxes, and the year you are age 62 or become disabled.
For additional information, please refer to:
- I understand there may be different rules if I was eligible to receive a City pension before 1986. Are there any exceptions to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)?
Yes. Exceptions to the WEP apply to:
- People age 62 before 1986.
- People eligible for a City pension before 1986.
- Disabled-worker beneficiaries disabled before 1986.
- People with at least 30 years of “substantial” Social Security coverage.
- Federal employees who were mandatorily covered by Social Security on January 1, 1984.
- People employed on December 31, 1983, by nonprofit organizations that were not covered by Social Security at any time before 1984.
- Ministerial pensions under denominational plans for services not covered by Social Security.
- Military reservist pensions.
- Why am I subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)?
Before 1983, people who worked mainly in a job not covered by Social Security had their Social Security benefits calculated as if they were long-term, low-wage workers. The way Social Security benefit amounts are figured, lower-paid workers get a higher return than highly paid workers. This created the advantage of receiving a higher Social Security benefit, plus a pension from a job where they did not pay Social Security taxes. Congress passed the WEP to remove that advantage.
For additional information, please refer to https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10045.pdf.
- What is the Government Pension Offset (GPO)?
If you receive a pension based on federal, state or local government work in which you did not pay Social Security taxes and you qualify, now or in the future, for Social Security benefits as a current or former spouse, widow or widower, you are likely to be affected by GPO. If GPO applies, your Social Security benefit will be reduced by an amount equal to two-thirds of your government pension and could be reduced to zero. Even if your benefit is reduced to zero, you will be eligible for Medicare at age 65 on your spouse’s record. Example: If you are eligible to receive a pension through the City of Los Angeles in the amount of $4,500. As a spouse, you are eligible for a Social Security benefit in the amount of $900 a month. Two-thirds of $4,500 is $3,000. The $3,000 is more than the $900 survivor benefit; therefore, the Social Security benefit is reduced to $0.
For additional information, please refer to https://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf.
- Are there any exceptions to the Government Pension Offset (GPO)?
Yes. GPO does not apply to people who:
- Are receiving a government pension that is not based on your earnings;
- Are a state or local employee whose government pension is based on a job where you are paying Social Security taxes on the last day of employment and your last day was before July 1, 2004; during the last five years of employment and your last day of employment was July 1, 2004, or later. (Under certain conditions, fewer than five years may be required for people whose last day of employment falls between July 1, 2004, and March 2, 2009.);
- Are a federal employee, including Civil Service Offset employee, who pays Social Security taxes on your earnings. (A Civil Service Offset employee is a federal employee who was rehired after December 31, 1983, following a break in service of more than 365 days and had five years of prior civil service retirement system coverage.);
- Are a federal employee who elected to switch from the Civil Service Retirement System to the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) on or before June 30, 1988. If you switched after that date, including during the open season from July 1, 1998, through December 31, 1998, you need five years under FERS to be exempt from the Government Pension Offset;
- Received or were eligible to receive a government pension before December 1982 and meet all the requirements for Social Security spouse’s benefits in effect in January 1977; or
- Received or were eligible to receive a federal, state or local government pension before July 1, 1983, and were receiving one-half support from your spouse.
- Why am I subject to the Government Pension Offset (GPO)?
If a government employee’s work had been subject to Social Security taxes, any Social Security benefit payable as a spouse, widow or widower would have been reduced by the person’s own Social Security retirement benefit. Therefore, the GPO was enacted to treat retired government employees similarly to other retirees who worked in Social Security covered employment.
For additional information, please refer to https://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf.
- How do I contact Social Security?
You can call, visit your local Social Security office or check their Web site.
Call (800)772-1213 – Representatives are available from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on business days. If you have a touch-tone phone, recorded information and services are available 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays.
Check the Web site at www.socialsecurity.gov.
Visit your local office – you can find your local office at www.socialsecurity.gov/locator or in the front pages of your local telephone book.
- As a City employee do I contribute to Social Security?
No. You do not contribute to Social Security and therefore you do not receive credit towards Social Security for your City employment.
- I worked in outside employment where I paid Social Security taxes. How do I find out how many credits I have?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is required by law to provide a Statement (about 3 months before your birthday) if you are a worker or former worker, age 25 or older and not currently receiving benefits. Your Statement is a record of earnings on which you paid Social Security taxes and the estimated benefits that can be paid to you and your family in the event of retirement, disability or death. You should check the information carefully and report any incorrect information as soon as possible. You can access your Social Security Statements online at www.socialsecurity.gov or contact SSA at (800) 772-1213.
Note: If you will get a pension based on non-covered employment, you may receive an overstated benefit estimate from Social Security because the pension is not considered for the estimate.
- I have worked in jobs where I paid into Social Security. How many credits do I need to qualify for Social Security?
People born after January 1, 1929, need 40 credits or about ten years of work.
- I have a deduction on my paycheck for FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) tax; does this qualify me for a Social Security pension?
City employees hired after March 1986 pay the Medicare portion of the FICA tax, or 1.45% which applies to all wages. This does not qualify you for a Social Security Pension, but it may qualify you for Medicare.