Social Security: Issues Regarding the Coverage of Public Employees

GAO-08-248T Published: Nov 06, 2007. Publicly Released: Nov 06, 2007.
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Social Security covers about 96 percent of all U.S. workers; the vast majority of the remaining 4 percent are public employees. Although these noncovered workers do not pay Social Security taxes on their government earnings, they may still be eligible for Social Security benefits through their spouses' or their own earnings from other covered employment. Social Security has provisions--the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)--that attempt to take noncovered employment into account when calculating the Social Security benefits for public employees. However, these provisions have been difficult to administer and critics contend that the provisions themselves are often unfair. The Committee asked GAO to discuss the issues regarding the coverage of public employees under Social Security, the provisions to take noncovered employment into account, and the proposals to modify those provisions.

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