Retirement Benefits

The Social Security Administration Turns 85

Social Security cards

Happy 85th birthday to the federal Social Security Administration (SSA), which was created with the passage of the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935.

The SSA is a critical resource for many families, providing financial security and stability to 68 million retirees in the United States. Social Security was never intended to replace income in retirement, but rather serves as an insurance program to protect against the uncertainty of life to those too old or ill to work. Beyond retiree benefits, the Social Security program includes support to spouses and survivors of workers, as well as their minor children and/or children with disabilities.

Social Security for Government Employees

While you have likely heard of the Social Security program, do you understand how the program works for government employees?

The Social Security program was created to provide coverage to low income employees. Originally, it was only available to private sector employees. Later, with the amendment of Section 218 of the Social Security Act, government employees could participate in the program if their employer voluntarily entered into a Section 218 Agreement.

In 1955, CalPERS was delegated the role of the State Social Security Administrator (SSSA) for California. Ever since, our office has worked with public employers to provide education to protect the Social Security contributions of public employees.

Estimate Your Benefits

Find out which benefits will be available for you and your family when you retire by creating an online account with the SSA and reviewing your earnings record.

As a government employee, two important considerations regarding your Social Security benefits are the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). If you’ve ever worked for a government employer while earning a public pension and not contributing to Social Security, your Social Security benefits may be reduced. Use the online calculators to estimate your benefits and see if the WEP and GPO reductions may apply to you. If there are any discrepancies, it will be easier to correct prior to retirement.

Learn More

With proper planning you can chart your own course toward financial stability. For more information and resources, visit Social Security & Your CalPERS Pension on our website.