If you have a government pension from a public service job that didn’t require payment into Social Security, you’ll have to have worked in a side or new career that did pay into Social Security in order to qualify for Social Security benefits. You’ll need a minimum of forty quarters to qualify. Your Social Security benefits will be reduced by about 50 percent under the Windfall Elimination Provision.

The reasons for the reduction are complicated. Simply put, Social Security benefits are calculated using a progressive formula that favors lower earners. Under the above scenario it would look like you were a low earner because your main job was not reflected in your earnings history used to calculate your Social Security benefits (the highest thirty-five years of earnings). Thus, your Social Security benefits would not accurately reflect the real story. Your Social Security benefits would be reduced to reflect what is fair.