Retirement Policy

The Obama administration has proposed to increase its enforcement of two Social Security benefit offset policies that affect many federal employees under the CSRS retirement system, the windfall elimination provision and the government pension offset.

Employee organizations have targeted the two reductions for years and have gained sympathetic hearings in Congress numerous times on the topics, but legislation to soften or eliminate the provisions never have advanced even to committee-level votes. The White House’s most recent proposal shows no sign of acting against those provisions but instead suggests that even more enforcement of current policies is needed.

The two provisions apply to retirees who receive annuities from systems that do not include Social Security—such as CSRS in the federal government, as well as in some state and local government retirement systems. Currently, SSA and OPM match data to make sure that the offsets are being applied but there is no such matching system for other levels of government.

The budget says that nearly $3 billion could be saved over 10 years through closer scrutiny of beneficiaries, a special consideration in difficult fiscal times. The administration also indicated that it has no issue philosophically with the reductions, saying that if they were not in place, “non-covered workers would be given an additional subsidy as compared with similarly situated workers who spent their entire careers working in covered employment, meaning that non-covered workers would be treated more favorably than covered workers.”