As you probably know, Massachusetts is one of a handful of “non-Social Security” states. This means that you, as a member of a contributory retirement system, pay into our system instead of Social Security; you do not earn any Social Security “credits” or “quarters” for your MTRS contributions or service. However, you may have earned Social Security credits through other employment. If you are eligible for Social Security benefits, you may be subject to one of two Social Security “double-dipping” laws: the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset.
IMPORTANT NOTE: All retirees should contact the Social Security Administration to determine their eligibility for social security benefits three months before retirement or three months before age 65, whichever comes first.
Frequently asked questions
When I retire, I will have 40 credits (or “quarters”) under Social Security. Will my Social Security pension be reduced because I will receive a pension from the MTRS?
If you have 40 credits (or “quarters”) under the Social Security system (in other words, you are eligible to receive Social Security benefits), then Social Security will use a “modified formula” to calculate your pension unless:
- you had 20 years of creditable service under the MTRS before January 1, 1986 or
- you were age 55 and had at least 10 years of creditable service before January 1, 1986 or
- you will have at least 30 years of “substantial earnings” under the Social Security system. For further information on “substantial earnings,” contact your local Social Security Administration Office or see our page on the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).
If you do not meet any of these requirements, you will receive a reduced Social Security pension. In order to determine the amount of the reduction that applies to you, please contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213.
I am expecting to collect a spousal or widow’s benefit under Social Security. Will I receive a reduced benefit since I will be receiving a retirement allowance from the MTRS?
If you expect to collect a spousal or widow’s benefit under Social Security, these benefits may be reduced by two-thirds of the amount of your MTRS retirement allowance. You will be exempt from this “Government Pension Offset” if you meet all the requirements for Social Security spousal benefits in effect in 1977 and;
- you had 20 years of creditable service under the MTRS before December 1, 1982 or
- you were age 55 and had at least 10 years of creditable service before December 1, 1982 or
- you were age 55 or had 20 years of creditable service before July 1, 1983 and you received half support from your spouse.
In all cases, the Social Security Administration requires that male retirees of the MTRS must have received at least half support from their wives to apply for spousal benefits.
Will my Medicare coverage be affected by the Social Security “double-dipping” laws?
No; although your Social Security benefits may be reduced by these two provisions, your Medicare coverage will not be affected. If you believe that, based on your age and/or amount of creditable service with the MTRS, you are exempt from either the Windfall Elimination Provision or the Government Pension Offset, the Social Security Administration will require you to submit a letter from us that states the date on which you met the eligibility requirement. To request this letter, contact us.