Tag Archives: Government Pension Offset

Response from Senator Durbin on Social Security Fairness Bill

12 Jan
Thank you for contacting me about the windfall elimination provision (WEP) and the government pension offset (GPO). I appreciate hearing from you.
The WEP and GPO are provisions that reduce Social Security benefits to people who concurrently receive a pension from employment that did not require contributions to the Social Security system. Federal, state, county and municipal employees are included in this category. The WEP reduces Social Security benefits to recipients of non-covered pensions who also worked a different, covered job and contributed to Social Security. The GPO reduces Social Security payments received as spousal retirement, disability or death benefits to those persons who receive a non-covered pension.
I cosponsored legislation to help level the playing field for federal employees and ensure they receive appropriate pensions and retirement benefits. The Social Security Fairness Act (S. 484), introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California in the 111th Congress, would repeal the government pension offset and windfall elimination provisions to correct inequities in existing laws. A comparable bill, H.R. 1332, has been introduced in the House during this Congress. I will keep your thoughts in mind as this issue is considered in the Senate.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please feel free to keep in touch.
Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

Social Security Offset: WEP/GPO Explained > MassRetirees

10 Jan

Over the course of the years that our Association has been fighting to repeal Social Security’s GPO (Government Pension Offset) and WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision), we have received hundreds of communications from our members and other interested parties. Here are some of the most frequent questions and our answers to them.


The GPO affects members who apply for SS spousal benefits, based upon their husband or wife’s work record under the program, and fail to satisfy two exceptions. Members must either be eligible for their public pension before December 1, 1982 and meet all requirements for SS spousal benefits in effect in January 1977 (i.e., husband received one-half support from his wife), or be eligible for their pension before July 1, 1983 and receiving one-half support from his or her spouse.

Unless a member satisfies one of these two exceptions, then the amount of their SS spousal benefits will be reduced by two-thirds of their public pension. For example, if your pension is $9,000 and you’re eligible for $6,000 in SS spousal benefits, two-thirds of your pension ($6,000) would unfortunately reduce your SS benefits to zero. Note: Even if you do not receive actual benefits, you can still be covered by Medicare.


The GPO was a provision in the 1977 Social Security Amendments signed into law by President Jimmy Carter, at a time when the Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. The provision originated in the Senate Finance Committee, then chaired by Sen. Russell Long (D-LA). House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Al Ullman (D-OR) pushed through an amendment in the House to provide a five-year transition period so that the GPO was not effective until 1982. Subsequent amendments changed the effective date to 1983, and applied the $1-for-$1 offset against two-thirds of the pension, instead of the entire pension used as the offset in the original provision.


The WEP affects members who apply for their own (not spousal) SS benefits and fail to satisfy certain exceptions. A major exception is that members, who were eligible for their public pension before January 1, 1986 (i.e., 20/more years of service under age 55, or 10/more years over 55) or have at least 30 years of substantial coverage under Social Security, are exempt from the WEP. (There is some relief for those with 20-30 years of SS coverage.)

If a member doesn’t satisfy the exceptions, then they are subject to the WEP, meaning that their SS benefits will be calculated using a different formula. Under that different formula, instead of receiving 90% of the first $606, which the member earned on the average each month (in this case, $545.40), the member would receive only 40% of their first $606 ($242.40) – more than 55% less in benefits.


The WEP was enacted as part of the 1983 Social Security Refinancing Act, designed to shore up the financing of the Social Security Trust Fund. That Act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, after being adopted by the Democratic-controlled House where Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) chaired the House Ways and Means Committee and the Republican-controlled Senate, where Sen. Robert Dole (R-KS) chaired the Senate Finance Committee.


In addition to Massachusetts, there are 26 states that have public retirees and employees who could be hurt by either the GPO/WEP. Like the Commonwealth, the first 6 states, listed below, have almost all or a large majority of their employees not contributing to Social Security, and, therefore, potentially affected by these laws as retirees. The remaining 20 states are ranked in terms of the percent of employees who may be impacted (66-16%). They are: California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, Texas, Florida, New York, Nevada, Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota, Georgia, Missouri, Michigan, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Washington, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Maine, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico and New Hampshire.


As with any issue – be it at the federal or state level, it’s vital to keep informed.

Second, timing is critical. Over the years, we have called upon members, in specific parts of the country (i.e., Florida, Maine, Vermont, etc.), to contact their congressmen and senators on the GPO/WEP. While we do not discourage individual initiative on these issues, please act if and when we contact you – that’s when we believe you can have the greatest impact.

via WEP/GPO Explained | MassRetirees.

Save our Social Security: New bill to repeal GPO-WEP > SSFairness

10 Jan

Just before the Senate went on recess in mid-December John Kerry (D-MA) introduced a companion bill to the House Social Security Fairness Bill (HR1332).

The new Senate bill specifies repeal of both the GPO and the WEP. It is number S 2010 and is co-sponsored by Susan Collins (R-ME). 

We are delighted!

The best way we can thank these two Senators is to get their colleagues to sign on as co-sponsors! The National Education Association has set up a quick and easy way to email both your Senators and your Congress Person. This is open to everyone and you do not need to sign up for NEA emails to use the service.  Click here and also pass this link on to your friends:


 It is not likely that these bills will be passed this year, but they are a vehicle for explaining to legislators why these offsets are WRONG. When any changes are made to the Social Security retirement formulas, we want to make sure that lawmakers know that this is a problem that must be fixed!

 From our recent sign ups, here is another story of outrageous injustice:

My mother (a public school teacher) was blindsided by this unfair legislation. She is constantly having to explain to people why she does not receive survivor benefits, when most of her peers (84 years old) do receive them. It feels so punitive to me. It’s as if they are saying, “You worked so we are now going to punish you for it. And, your husband died so now we are going to rip up your life even more. Ha!” The concept of double dipping was inaccurate, as if someone were stealing. They built their lives and family, contributed to society, and paid taxes, together.  California.

Thank you for staying with us as we fight for change!!!

via SSFairness.com


NEA – Sign Petition to Repeal Social Security Offsets

16 Nov

The White House is soliciting petitions from the public on their website. A petition has been started to urge repeal of the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. The petition needs a lot of signatures in order to get the attention of the President. Sign today! Note – you will be asked to create an account before signing to prevent duplicate signatures. Once you create your account, you will receive a confirmation e-mail and will be able to sign the petition. To start the process, click here.

NEA supports repeal of unfair offsets – the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision – that unfairly reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits that public employees have EARNED. Representatives McKeon (R-CA) and Berman (D-CA) have re-introduced legislation (H.R. 1332) that would fully repeal these unfair laws. See if your Representative is a cosponsor.

Take Action Now: Tell Members of the House to cosponsor and support passage of this important legislation.

via NEA – Social Security.

NEA – Social Insecurity

16 Nov

How (and why) GPO and WEP can eat up your pension.

By Mary Ellen Flannery and Alain Jehlen

In 1968, Lois Grenfell’s husband died at the age of 31. Her children were seven and 11. “Our family was devastated emotionally and financially. I had no savings, very little life insurance, and no job,” she recalls. Grenfell, who lives in Grand Junction, Colorado, returned to college part-time while supporting her family, earned a teaching degree, and began teaching in 1976. She was rebuilding her life—but there was more bad news to come.

“I soon learned that I would never receive one penny of my Social Security widow’s benefits after I retired, even though my husband had worked continually from the time he was 16 until his untimely death,” she wrote to This Active Life. What happened to her widow’s pension? The Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision (GPO/WEP). More…

via NEA – Social Insecurity.

NEA – Quick Quiz on Social Security and Public Employees

16 Nov

Quick Quiz on Social Security and Public Employees

See how much you know about how the Social Security Offset might affect your retirement. Click below to take the quiz:

NEA – Quick Quiz on Social Security and Public Employees.

NEA – Here’s how to tell whether you may be impacted by GPO/WEP (Social Security Offset)

16 Nov

Windfall Elimination Provision:

Do you currently work, or have you previously worked, or are you planning to work in the future in a public sector job (including public educators, police officers, firefighters, state and local government workers) that is NOT covered by Social Security – that is, Social Security taxes are/were/will not be withheld from your paycheck?

If so, are you currently drawing, or will you draw in the future, a government pension from that job?

And, are you also entitled to a Social Security retirement or disability benefit from another job – either a part-time or summer job or a previous job for which you paid into Social Security?

If you answered yes to the above questions, you may be impacted by the WEP.

(Note – there are exceptions, particularly for people who have more than 30 years of qualified employment covered by Social Security – learn more.)

Government Pension Offset:

Do you currently work, or have you previously worked, or are you planning to work in the future in a public sector job (including public educators, police officers, firefighters, state and local government workers) that is NOT covered by Social Security – that is, Social Security taxes are/were/will not be withheld from your paycheck?

If so, are you currently drawing, or will you draw in the future, a government pension from that job?

And, are you entitled to a Social Security survivor benefit based on Social Security taxes your spouse paid while working in the private sector (benefits you would receive based on your spouse’s earnings if he or she dies)?

If you answered yes to the above questions, you may be impacted by the GPO.

via NEA – Here’s how to tell whether you may be impacted by GPO/WEP.

NEA – Social Security

16 Nov


As the “super committee” continues its work on a deficit reduction deal, we need to take a firm stand against cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. The super committee is charged with coming up with trillions of dollars in deficit reduction. They must not accomplish this by cutting Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. These essential programs did not contribute to the nation’s deficit and should not be cut to address it.

Social Security is more than a retirement plan. It is our nation’s most successful social insurance program. Nationally, 20 percent of adults receive Social Security benefits, including 22 percent of women and 18 percent of men. About 24 million women, 18 million men, and 3 million children rely on Social Security benefits. Cuts to Social Security would fall disproportionately on low-income individuals, particularly minorities, who depend on Social Security and Medicare. For example, according to the Social Security Administration, among Hispanics receiving Social Security in 2008, 38 percent of elderly married couples and 62 percent of unmarried elderly persons relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income. Learn more.

Take action:

Call your Members of Congress and urge them to oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Dial 1-800-998-0180 to hear the latest update and connect to your Representatives in Congress.

E-mail Congress: Tell your Representatives, No Social Security cuts. No retirement age increase. No risky privatization schemes. More…

via NEA – Social Security.

Sign Petition to the White House to Repeal Social Security Offsets

14 Oct

A petition to urge the Administration to support repeal of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is now available on the White House website. The GPO and WEP unfairly cut or eliminate many public employees’ earned Social Security benefits. The petition needs a lot of signatures in order to get the attention of the President.  Sign today Learn moreabout the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. To sign the petition:

  1. Go to http://wh.gov/4KL
  2. Click on “Create an Account” on the blue bar at the bottom of the page. Fill in the information and click “Register.”
  3. Check your email for a letter with the links back to the site. It may take several minutes to arrive. Click the link and sign the petition.
  4. Trouble shooting:
  • The site is often swamped. If you can’t get the “register” screen, bookmark http://wh.gov/4KL and try later.
  • If the link they send you doesn’t seem to work, go to wh.gov/4KL again and try to sign the petition, anyway.
  • If you think you may have signed in and nothing has happened yet, refresh the wh.gov/4KL page and try to sign the petition.
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