The vast majority of Texas school districts do not participate in Social Security, so most school employees are not entitled to Social Security benefits unless they paid into that system through other employment (for at least 40 quarters) or have spouses eligible for Social Security. However, federal laws reduce, or in some cases eliminate, the amount of Social Security benefits received in those situations.
These penalties are a result of federal laws on the books since the 1980's — the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). They can have a significant affect on your retirement planning, so be sure you fully understand their impact by reading the information here and consulting with a Social Security representative before finalizing your retirement plans.
If you retire from a district that does not participate in Social Security but are eligible for benefits through your spouse, the GPO will reduce the amount of your spousal or survivor Social Security benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your TRS pension. The GPO does not affect the amount of your TRS pension.
An employee must work at least the last 60 months prior to retirement in a position that pays into both TRS and Social Security to be exempt from the GPO.
If you work in a district not participating in Social Security but are eligible for Social Security benefits because of previous employment in which you paid into Social Security, you may be subject to the WEP. The effect of this offset is not generally as severe as that of the GPO, but it may still be significant.WEP details
A handful of Texas school districts participate in Social Security - in some, all employees pay in and earn benefits; in others, only certain categories of employees (such as support personnel) participate. Click here for a list of participating districts.
TCTA has worked with Tom Clark, a former Social Security Administration employee and expert on the WEP and GPO, for years to provide accurate information to our members. Only TCTA members have access to his informative presentation, worth 1.25 CPE hours. Log in to the member portal here, and look for "Social Security Retirement Benefits: What you Need to Know" in the CPE tab.
See our Q&A on Social Security benefits.
Learn about the latest efforts in Congress to revise or repeal the GPO and WEP.