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Master's Professional Reports Abstract

The Government Pension Offset and implications for Texas Teachers' Retirement Income Security.
Ellis, Carol Wissler
Report 2001 EL59 Public Affairs Library

Since 1983, Social Security spousal benefits for certain state and local government retirees have been reduced owing to a provision in the Social Security Act known as the Government Pension Offset. This Report examines the logic of the reduction and whether the Government Pension Offset ought to be modified or eliminated. This study applies the present laws of Social Security and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas to hypothetical work histories in order to examine the retirement income adequacy of workers affected by the Government Pension Offset. While some level of offset is appropriate, the results in this Report refute the stated logic for selecting two-thirds of the government pension as the offset amount: two-thirds of a government pension is rarely equal to a Social Security benefit for a given work history. The results of this study suggest an offset amount equal to the historical employer cost of providing retirement benefits to state and local workers is an accurate computation method compared to the inexact, blanket two-thirds formula. Finally, the offset amount has adverse economic consequences for low-wage, unmarried retirees, the vast majority of whom are women.


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