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#32836 - 09/24/05 01:06 AM Pension and Social Security Issues
summer10 Offline
recently joined

Registered: 09/24/05
Posts: 2
My friend who resides in Massachusetts is getting a divorce after many years of being separated (total marriage approx 30 years - 20 together, 10 living apart). He receives a pension from a private employer and is currently in "pay status". He is not yet on Social Security. His ex works for the state of MA and will receive a state pension, she is still working FT. Her social security pymt will only be about$200 due to the Government Pension Offset rule. (She can't double dip and get both her pension and ss - but she has some ss due to prior employment.) At the pre-trial hearing the judge stated that my friend's (the husband) social security could not be considered an asset (using the entire future earnings to offset other assets) but when he begins receiving payments, he would have to give the exwife approx 65% of his social security payments so that when retired their incomes would be equal. (Her pension payments are smaller then his.) His lawyer states that there's no law in MA regarding this and the judge can do this if he chooses.
The exwife has an advanced degree and has always made more $ then the husband. The husband was a blue collar worker. This situation seems unfair. If the Government Pension Offset prevents her from "double dipping", why can she do so through his benefit? I'd appreciate if anyone has any input or suggestions regarding this situation. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

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#32837 - 09/24/05 03:47 PM Re: Pension and Social Security Issues [Re: summer10]
Karen1 Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 1804
Loc: Ohio
I am from the other side of this issue as I have a governemt pension. I also worked for 20 years and paid into social security. For every 3.00 I will get from my government pension, SS will take 1.00 of my SS, so I will receive 0 from SS.

There is something I just don't understand about the Socical Security and government pensions offset. My ex pays into social security and his company pension plan. I paid into social security for years, get a statement once a year on my monthy amount when retire. I changed career paths and have worked in city government for almost 19 years. Our governemnt now says that social security was not intended to be our only financial resourse when we retire, that we should have a pension plan also. So I followed what the government said, I put my time in under social security and paid into it for years and meet the time requirements (# of quarters). Then I changed to a job with a pension. How is this double dipping? My ex and countless others pay into social security and a pension plan. How can that not be double dipping then also? I just don't see what difference it makes if the pension plan is through a private company or a government office.

In my case, my share of his social security (another confusing issue to me, how can I receive some of his and not my own?) is the same as his share of my government pension, so they cancel each other out per the court. That leaves his pension to be divided. Ours is a long term marriage, together for 30 years. I should make out OK for retirement... I am not greedy but it just does not seem right to me that social security took my money for 20 years, and can then tell me I am entitled to none of it at retirement. In my case, I would have been a lot better off it I could have kept that money and invested it myself, which is one of few things Bush proposes that I agree with.

My ex salary is 3 times that of mine... in large part because we concentrated our limited financial assets in furthering his education. Bottom line is that when we both retire our incomes will be made fairly equal. Perhaps your friend makes or made a much higher salary than his ex and the court has or will do the same as in my case, balance the retirement assets out more fairly. Of course my ex thinks this is unfair and your friend probably does also. Thankfully our courts do look at reitrement as a MARITAL asset.

However I hope someone can explain to me why ex can receive SS and his pension and not be a double dipper, but I can't do the same because I would be a double dipper. Private or public (government) pensions, what is the difference?. My governement pension monthly payment will be a percentage of an average of my 3 highest years of earnings. I work for a small city, not some high ranking official with a huge salary by any means.
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#32838 - 09/24/05 05:58 PM Re: Pension and Social Security Issues [Re: Karen1]
summer10 Offline
recently joined

Registered: 09/24/05
Posts: 2
Karen, my friend's ex does not pay into social security. Usually with govt pensions, I do not believe you pay social security. If you've paid in based on non-gov't emplymt you wld get some of that back. You should check out the ss website, www.ssa.gov. There's a calculator where you can figure both your benefit w/the GPO and w/yr husband's benefits.

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#32839 - 09/24/05 10:54 PM Re: Pension and Social Security Issues [Re: summer10]
Karen1 Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 1804
Loc: Ohio
Thanks for the info... I have checked that out. Based on estimates of my current salary with annual 3% COLA I know what my monthly pension would be per my yearly report. Same with SS. Pension monthly estimate is 3 times my ss (example: 1500.00 vs 500.00 ) so I will get 0 from SS if the reports are near accurate.

I thought you mentioned your friend does not yet receive his SS. If he had not paid into it, how will he receive it? Just confused.
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"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened".

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#32840 - 09/24/05 10:55 PM Re: Pension and Social Security Issues [Re: Karen1]
Karen1 Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 1804
Loc: Ohio
OOPS... should have read closer before I responded. You said friend's ex, not friend as I misread it the first time. Sorry about that.
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#32841 - 09/26/05 03:59 PM Re: Pension and Social Security Issues [Re: summer10]
joan Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/24/04
Posts: 248
I am from Illinois and I am not sure if the rules are the same but...I am a Federal employee for 30 years and under the "old" system have never paid social security. My STBX is in private industry. When we divorce he will be entitled to 1/2 of my Federal pension, including any increases I get after our divorce until I begin to receive my retirement. He will not get any retirement from me until I retire. On the other hand, he will also receive his social security benefits. The courts have stated that social security is not marital, based on Federal law, and cannot be taken into account in a divorce. So I will get 1/2 of my retirment and he will get 1/2 of my retirement plus his full socical security benefit. This does not seem fair to me, but my attorney says that's just the way it is in Illinois. The judges feel they have no options.

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#32842 - 09/27/05 05:10 PM Re: Pension and Social Security Issues [Re: joan]
Karen1 Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 1804
Loc: Ohio
Maybe this is different from state to state. As stated above, I am a public employee and have public employee pension, also meet the time requirements (quarters) for social security. However as SS will take away 1.00 for every 3.00 of pension I received, if I receive any of my SS it will be very minimal amount.

Ex share of my pension and any SS I might end up getting was about equal to my share of his SS... so they canceled each other per our state, via county court. That left his pension to be divided. Long term marriage so I have in the 300 plus month range that I am entitled to 1/2 of the amount his pension earned during that time. I know it sounds confusing, but all I can determine is that all states must not look at it the same. Of course the total $ amount of the pension etc. would probably also enter into the mix. In my case, ex earns 3 times the salary I do, hence the portion to me. Were our salaries reversed, he would be receiving a share of my pension when I retire.
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