Action Alert #95 – Don’t Forget: They Cut Social Security Before, They Could Do It Again!!!

Speak out now about this travesty!

“To save money” in the 1980’s, Congress added the unfair WEP formula that cuts public workers’ own earned benefits. They also devised the GPO to deprive (mostly) wives of fair earnings from their marriages. The RESULT? Less than a 2% savings of Social Security’s annual Old Age expenditures, and misery for millions!!!

Here’s the story with some new twists:

In 1983 Congress began a process of “strengthening” Social Security by cutting benefits. Starting retirement later reduced overall benefits for future retirees—they had to retire at 67 instead of 65 for full benefits.  In addition, it was decided to eliminate what was considered double-dipping. This is when benefits were cut for those public employees who also had pensions from systems not paying into Social Security. However, these same people or their spouses had paid into both systems and therefore should receive their full benefits resulting from the Social Security taxes they did pay.

The Windfall Elimination Provision:  Penalty for working 2 jobs.

It is important to understand how the standard Social Security benefit is calculated.  Your benefit is an amount based on a calculation using your contributions over your working years and the number of years you have contributed.  You get back 90% of the first $856 of the average earnings formula, 32% of the next cutoff amount, and 15% of the next higher amount.   This balance reimburses low-income earners at a higher percentage of their PIA than of higher earners.  Sounds fair.  The WEP reverses that thinking by giving ALL those affected by the WEP only 40% rather than 90% of the first $856 of the amount and then reimbursing the rest of the PIA at the same rate as regular earners.  That means that the lower-income earners affected by the WEP lose a higher percentage of their contributions than the higher earners. This is a brutally unfair and thoughtless process.

The Government Pension Offset: Losing your share of marriage benefits. The GPO deprives spouses, mostly women, of the ability to take advantage of the 50% increase in benefits earned by a couple with a non-Social Security-earning spouse.  The general contribution rate was calculated to include spousal benefits. The GPO was based on the notion that if you had a government pension from an agency that didn’t participate in Social Security, that pension should make you ineligible for the spousal or survivor benefits for which your spouse had already paid. There is no Social Security correlation between the number of years you were a dependent spouse and how many years you paid into your pension. 

As dependent spouses have gained more education and positions that pay more, a few years of professional work can eliminate ALL benefits for as many as twenty years of dependency on the spouse.  This is often because they pay a higher premium into their professional pension than they would have into Social Security.  The more they pay, the more Social Security they lose.  The GPO is designed to eliminate up to 40% of one’s retirement income (pension + SS). Incredibly, in addition, as retirees get cost-of-living increases in their pension, they are required to report this amount to the Social Security Administration who will reduce their Social Security benefits $2 for every $3 of the pension’s cost-of-living increase. Often husbands die before their wives, expecting that the Social Security benefits they have paid for over a lifetime of work will help take care of their loved ones. Too often that does not happen. In fact, many widows lose all of their earned Social Security benefits, ruining the opportunity for a secure retirement.

You worked and paid into Social Security: you are entitled to collect those benefits!

Cutting earned benefits for public servants does nothing to help America prosper!


  1. debra netkin says:

    I changed careers, I was a designer and went back to school to be a teacher. I have taught 19 years in San Francisco, and because the the WEP I will NEVER able to retire. The @1,000. that I would have gotten from Social Security would have helped, even though I would still have to continue working. Without it, I don’t even have the option to plan any kind of retirement.

    1. Sid D Purganan says:

      I did the same, 17 years as a truck driver/delivery man, before that I worked several jobs since turning 16 years old. Now, I’ve been a teacher for the past 15 years and now I get to watch the early years of my earned Soc. Sec. be stolen from me. There is no other way to look at this. Stolen, without warning, without notification, without just cause.

  2. Brenda Walker says:

    Another glitch to these two Windfalls for residence of Illinois, State of Illinois never paid/matched employees contributions for Teacher Retirement System (TRS). They owe TRS pension 30 billion dollars. That money I’m collecting from my public service employee of 28 years is all my contributions!!!!!

  3. Kenneth Barychko says:

    The WEP/GPO must be repealed. It is totally illegal in my opinion. I had requested it in (The Plain Writing Act) from Obama and not received it.
    This was not made to take money away from poor hard working people.
    If you pay into SS you should receive what you are entitled to, including spousal benefits. It should have nothing to do with any Government jobs which your paid into a different retirement plan. This is the United States of America, where everybody is supposed to be treated equal. This makes working for the Government a disgrace. It is no different then me saving for future by stuffing my mattress and the Government coming and taking it out.
    I have sent emails to CBS 60 Minutes News and requested them to dig into this problem, they should have been following for years. I believe they have the strength to bring this out to the public people of the US. They should grill government that have kept this a secret for many years, and let the hurting people affected tell they’re stories.

  4. Geri Murphy says:

    MY husband of 35 years died last year, but I only received the $250+/- death “benefits”. I did not “qualify” to receive any widow benefits, as I made more from my teacher retirement than I would receive from his SS. I still work and am paying into SS – which I have done for more than 20 years, but that is not enough! I worked public education for 15 years, so, although I have made more and paid more under Social Security…..I will never see more than 40% of what I have put in! How FAIR is that???

  5. Linda A. Windhorst says:

    The government needs to get their money from somewhere. Well, I think we have given more than our fair share, since the 1980’s. It’s time to get it from someone or somewhere else and give us a break!

    The only problem is convincing our lawmakers to listen to us and not just give us lip service. I’m so tired of the run around. I fear, I’ll be long gone before this is ever resolved.

    1. Id love to go to Washington and address them.

  6. Janet Gipson says:

    Repeal WEP/GPO. Our government is either not aware or does not care how Social Security Unfairness affects Americans that have worked to prepare for their old age. I am a victim of WEP/GPO. My penalty is $700 per month. I paid into social security for over 24 years. I then worked as a teacher for over 21 years. My husband paid into social security for over 30 years. He died in 2008 and when I retired in 2016, my widows benefits dropped to $12 per month. I switched to my social security benefits and have been penalized $200 per month. I now struggle to make ends meet. Is anybody in Washington DC listening. We need help, and we need it now!!!!!

    1. Janet, your story is like mine. They need to hear these testimonies and see the faces. Again I say, a trip to DC is needed!

  7. I feel that we are so helpless in this matter. And what does a person do who is 66? Should I go ahead and draw the reduced share or wait a little longer to see if it changes? If I do draw and they change it, will they change my amount back to what I paid in? Congress appears to give no concern about changing this law, so how do we bring it to the forefront? Giving money does not give me the sense of doing something, Mitch McConnell is my congressman. Shoot, he voted for me to lose this money. Where are the voices and where is the power to change this law?

  8. Laura Rader says:

    I worked for ten years and paid into Social Security before becoming a teacher. My late husband also worked for thirty years and paid into Social Security. As a teacher, I paid into my pension. When I retire in two years after 30 years of teaching, I will get my CALSTRS pension, but I won’t see any of my late husband’s survivor benefits and only about $100 of my Social Security each month. Completely unfair. The WEP and GOP need to be repealed.

  9. Sharon LaRosa says:

    It’s our money! We paid it from our paychecks that we earned!! It’s not double dipping ….it’s double working!! It is mostly women that will suffer from this windfall. NOT FAIR. Social Security is Federal and it only impacts 11 states. I thought Federal meant 50 states. Reason enough to repeal!!!

  10. C. Whitefield says:

    Congress would never repeal this tariff on the hard working public workers, because those millions would help them with their pay raises, health benefits, and pensions. Professional politicians have it made. They take care of themselves.

  11. The WEP/GPO is grossly unfair and should be repealed. It was created to FORCE (Federal) employees to switch to Social Security from Civil Service Retirement. I only began earning higher than Grade 5 pay the last 10 years I worked. I started as a GS-2 at $4000+/- per YEAR. I retired with Cancer 5 years before full retirement when I was making my highest salary, thereby reducing my High-Five CSRS benefit computation. Before Federal employment, I worked at Social Security covered jobs and draw a minimum benefit, just enough to pay my Medicare premium. When we received less than 1% increase in Jan 2017, Social Security recomputed, and stopped my benefit. I am nearing 70 and now working at minimum wage to help make ends meet. As one of many lower salaried recipients, I now pay more than 50% of my income for necessary living expenses. I don’t believe there is anyone in Congress who is facing financial devastation like so many of us. It is time they repealed this Act and treat us fairly.

  12. Jean Romero says:

    REPEAL THE WEP/GPO Act Of 1983……
    If you went to work today, and a total stranger came up to you and said.. ” you just lost your Social Security in your old age without any Warnings, only because you are a Federal or Public Employee”. How would you feel ?

    This is what suddenly happened without any warning or notice to 6.5 million (and still counting) Americans on a sunny day in April, 1983. Some were given warnings and quit. The vast majority’s new Social Security Plan became their current Government Retirement Plan. If they quit then after the passing, they would still be penalized by the Windfall or Offset penalty written into the law. A total failure of due process and the rights of employees.
    Big Government Stealing Our Social Security
    #REPEAL The WEP/GPO ACT Of 1983!
    Public Servants beware of this penalty!
    As always, check to see if your Representative in Congress has signed on to H.R. 1205 and S.915 the WEP/GPO Repeal Bills!

  13. Tom Anselm says:

    Also a retired teacher in 2010. Age 68, took SS at age 62. Diminished amount as all others. My congressperson Ann Wagner in Missouri will not give me a straight answer on her position on HR 1205. Probably won’t be voting for her again. To say this is unfair is an understatement… I put in my years teaching and in the private sector, and am being penalized for it. Not a good way to encourage people to go in to teaching later in life, people who have a lot to offer,by the way.

  14. mark allen says:

    If SS can cut my benefits by $2808.00 a year to reduce THEIR payouts because I get SERS, whats to keep (in my case) SERS from reducing from my benefit because I receive SS. One is every bit as absurd as the other. Did they vote in their own interest?, obvious solution at the time was raise the minimum SS tax, but since they made over that min. taxable amt. it would adversely affect them and they created (out of whole cloth) this absurd “pogrom”. Ones fed, ones state, they meet at no point, and are based on ones contributions. That figure never changes.

    1. jandy jandy says:

      While watching TV every weekend email bill sponsors, heads of committees where bills are stalled to get this bill to vote and tell your story. Insist that your representatives become cosponsors. (Try NARFE website sends multiple emails at one time) Tell them your story and don’t Minimize effects. You are 1 of 8 million effected by this rule.
      Call them. See “Influence without Money: Making your voice count”
      PS-congress granted themselves immunity from this law-remind them

  15. I hope people learn that if you work for a paycheck never, NEVER, vote for a republican. They are all about take from the poor to give to the rich while they lie and say they are for the people. Social Security fairness has been fighting to repeal these provisions for years with the same result, bills put up that go nowhere. Get out and vote people and take a friend and vote completely down ticket for Democrats. Call your reps and senators 3 times a week. Get as many friends and family as you can to do the same. This pra tically take an act of God to change.

    1. I disagree. This was voted on by both parties. I’m going to look into legality of this. Discrimination. I still say let’s Get a date and meet at Capitol Hill. Get a date to go before Congress

    2. jandy jandy says:

      yeah for you but don’t forget to call the sponsors/cosponsors of the bills and the members of the committees where the bills are currently stalled urging them to get these bills out for a vote. and ask how they can consider letting this continue when they thought it so unfair to that they granted themselves immunity

  16. Carolyn Shamaugh says:

    As a retired Federal employee, I am not receiving any Social Security benefits I have in the past, and am still NOW, paying into. This is because I also worked as a Federal employee in addition to working for 60 quarters and paying into the Social Security Administration, when only 40quarters are required to get FULL Social Security benefits. But because of this stupid law, I am losing ALL of the Soc. Security I have paid into and should be drawing. I paid SEPARATELY FULLY into my Federal Pension, and so should be receiving that as well each month – in addition to the Soc. Security I have paid into. Also, because I was married for over 12 years to my spouse, I am only able to draw 1/2 of the benefits I should be able to receive from his Soc. Security because of this ridiculous law that was passed.

  17. Kenneth Schulter says:

    I am in the throes of fighting this unfair WEP. I have, or thought, that I had 24 years of private sector work. However, I find that there is another formula that SSA has, telling me that I have even less years of payments to SSA because I did not meet the minimum amount of FICA taxes for that year (working as a teenager but showing as the year I worked on the annual statement). Did anyone publish that formula? So I am supposed to lose close to $500/mo. from the stated amount I should receive! And if I never worked a day after my private sector work and not taken a public sector job and had I won the lottery and made income off of investments prior to any work for the public sector, I would receive my full SSA amount as identified. If there ever was a scam and illegal grab of my FICA taxes, then the whole bunch of Congress people should be locked up! Fake government by and for the elitists.

  18. Richard Cohn says:

    There was a major problem here in MD because of the Federal workforce was not in social security. They made all Federal employees pay into social security and those employees are now NOT subject to WEP and GPO. The solution to the GPO and WEP is to get all employees into social security. I love Social Security. It is a great program and I strongly recommend that state and local employees not in Social Security get into Social Security. Social Security pays better benefits for very low income workers than any state pensions. State pensions take money from the poor and give it to middle and upper income people compared to Social Security.

    1. jandy jandy says:

      You need to check your position with your human resources dept. I never worked one day without paying my full SS premium. Yet even though I only worked for fed. gov. 8 years in a 30 year work career I forfeit 2/3 of my SS benefits because I worked for feds.

  19. In Ohio I Worked 30 years and had all of my quarters paid in. I went to work in school aide position and worked ten more years. When I went in to collect the Social Security Disability THAT I EARNED I was told that that I get nothing. Also I cant even draw from my husbands that work all thise years. Their doctors agreed that I am totaly Disabled BUT WEP eliminated my total $1055. monthly benefit. At almost 60 years old I was told I have to do without until I am 65. Then I can draw a reduced amount due to GPO it will be about 60% of my EARNED benefit. THESE TWO LAWS NEED TO BE ABOLISHED. So I get screwed over because I worked as long as I could and I am a woman. I dont know how I’m supposed to live on less than $600. a month. Good luck getting anything done about it as long as McConnel, Ryan and their Ann Rand followers are in charge.

    1. jandy jandy says:

      While watching TV every weekend email bill sponsors, heads of committees where bills are stalled to get this bill to vote and tell your story. Insist that your representatives become cosponsors. (Try NARFE website sends multiple emails at one time) Tell them your story and don’t Minimize effects. You are 1 of 8 million effected by this rule.
      Call them. See “Influence without Money: Making your voice count”
      PS-Ask why , as federal employees, they should be immune to a law that adversely impacts so many others. personally I think your service was as valuable as theirs and you should get the same benefits they get.

  20. My husband and I paid into Social Security for over 75 years. After WEP/GPO Law I receive after deductions $106.00 per month. When people from other countries that were not born here received much more, why not penalize them instead of the people that were born here and have worked so many years to make this country great?

  21. William Gravenkemper says:

    We must march on DC and inform America what is happening since the media refuses to report it. Please lead us ssfairness.

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