The Ever Present Misconceptions about WEP/GPO

1. You have a pension, so you don’t need Social Security:

–The pension comes from money you were required to contribute out of your salary. Like Social Security, it was not intended to cover all of your needs in retirement.  Even a partial pension can cause cuts to Social Security.  Pensions are paid for and taxed differently in different states. They don’t correlate with Social Security at all and should not be used to diminish Social Security earnings. 

2.  You chose to earn the pension, so don’t complain about Social Security.  

–Many public service positions were not allowed to participate in Social Security in the beginning. In the 1950’s when governmental entities were offered the opportunity to join, many public employees were already paying into a pension and often couldn’t afford to pay into another retirement system. Public agencies made the decision not to add another retirement plan.

3.  The Offsets do not eliminate all of your Social Security.

–The Government Pension Offset currently eliminates ALL fully earned spousal or survivor benefits for more than half a million retirees, most of them elderly women.  The WEP can eliminate nearly $500 a month from those affected.

4.  The offsets only affect high earners.

–Actually, the way both the WEP and GPO work, they take a larger percentage of retirement income from those with smaller pensions.

62 Comments

  1. I so agree! The money I earned in teaching shouldn’t offset the money I earned prior to teaching or working in summers to supplement my income.

  2. I paid into Social Security for 20 years and also paid into a public pension. If you paid into Social Security and a 401 k, which would you give up?

    1. Robert B says:
      We have been trying to rectify the injustice caused by both the WEP and GPO for several decades through the legislative process (Congress). The unfortunate reality is that eliminating the WEP and GPO will probably never occur in Congress as evidenced by the lack of responsiveness from numerous members of Congress which I have reached out to on many occasions on this issue and which apparently is the same feedback being received by others who also have reached out to Congress as stated below.

      I believe that the more prudent course of action is now through a class action lawsuit brought against all the state teacher associations for breaching their fiduciary duty to protect new members coming into the teaching profession by failing to inform such individuals of the potential negative impact that both the WEP and GPO may have on their social security which they contributed while working in the private sector.

      One must also know that this specific duty was addressed in 2004 when federal legislation was passed in which school districts and teacher associations were mandated to inform new teachers beginning on 1-1-05 of the potential negative effects of WEP and GPO. Unfortunately, the legislation did nothing to address those individuals who entered the teaching profession prior to 1-1-05.

      The bottom line is that continuing to try and eliminate the WEP and GPO through the legislative process (Congress) after almost 30 years without success certainly seems like an exercise in futility and that a class action lawsuit may be the best course of action at this time.

  3. Do we have any chance of the WEP ever being tossed out? I can’t even get my AZ Republican Congressman (Gosar) to respond to me regarding repeal bills. Is this all an exercise in futility, or could it really come to pass?

    1. The only way it will happen is if those who support the repeal of GPO and WEP penalties keep the pressure on those in power. I believe there will be a bill introduced soon (Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust) that will make many improvements to Social Security including repeal of GPO and WEP. Additionally, it pays for the changes by requiring SS payroll tax on income over $400,000. This is the most promising action I have seen in the 20+ years I have been fighting for this change. Also, the Social Security Fairness Act H.R. 82 (House) and S. 1302 (Senate), the companion repeal bills introduced every congressional session, are generating bipartisan support as well. DON’T give up now. Keep on Gosar and get involved in the National actions that push for this to be resolved this year.

  4. I worked 10 years and received a very small pension. I was never told this would affect my social security or I would never have accepted the job there. They tricked me. I want my social security which I earned. My husband is a Vietnam Veteran and can not believe this is happening to me after 50 years of marriage. I can not even collect on his social security. This is disgraceful.

  5. When I retired my income from social security with the offset and my pension left me at the poverty line . For my area it was well below what was needed. Thank heavens the economy was going well so I could use the earnings from my retirement fund to supplement so I could meet my everyday expenses.
    I also was unable to use my pension from teaching ay the college. As a teacher there is no way to work to supplement your income for retirement WEP/GPO.

  6. They cutting my Social Security because I earned a small pension in another country working there before I came to the US. It’s insane!!!

  7. When I tell people what my retirement income is, they gasp in disbelief. Their response is, can’t someone do something to make it for fair? We are, and we’re trying.

  8. Yes, those of us who are retired and worked in private sector (social security paid) then became teachers, need help. Between both pensions, I make $1100 a month which is below poverty for California. At 75 years old, I’m working because $1100 is not a livable income. The $500+ I’m losing each month because of WEP would make it possible for me to retire. Why can’t they eliminate the WEP for those of us receiving under $20,000 per year from pensions?

  9. Ronald Reagan, when he was governor of CA, decided teachers were “double dipping” so he took away full social security benefits to teachers.
    Gavin Newsom gave himself and the legislatures in CA a very large raise a few months ago. Though he has much to say about failing schools he never, as far as I know, has been approached about our lack of full SS benefits.
    Neither party respects teachers, the extra jobs we had in the summer or people who came to teaching as a second career.
    I taught 31 years. My husband died at 54 and never received SS. When I was still teaching I was allowed to collect full benefits along with my salary.
    Maybe the teachers union should approach Gavin about allowing teachers to receive SS benefits we payed into.

  10. Think of it this way, a person never worked the entire life until they we 50. They work 15 years and file for SS. They would get the entire amount you earned. I worked 15 years where I paid SS and now I receive a hefty 439.00 a month.

    They say it’s supported by both parties but they can’t seem to fix it.

    1. My husband died at age 45 and did not collect one cent. I am his widow, retired CS federal employee, and I have not collected a cent either. Someone else collects.

  11. I worked after high school and college for nearly 20 years in the private sector. I went back to college and got a teaching certificate. I taught for 22 years. During summer break I worked Social Security jobs. When I retired from teaching, I went to work in the private sector full time until I took my Social Security. WEP hit me hard. If I could draw ALL of my earned benefits, I wouldn’t have to keep working into my 70’s.

  12. There is crisis in our schools … we face a Drastic shortage of young, talented educators … who are rejecting the teaching profession after hearing of the impact of the GPO and the WEP. This is not how we close the ever widening education gaps by discouraging talent from teaching. Young talent is venturing away from teaching because of the unfairness!
    And, it is unfair that the GPO- WEP penalty effects just a small number of states in the country!
    It is time that dedicated educators receive the benefits they, and their spouses, have earned through honest, and dedicated, hard work over extended years. Poverty is not a reward for a life of teaching.

  13. Where are we at getting this repealed? Every time I reply to a politician who is asking for a donation I do not donate but tell them to REPEAL WEP. It has affected me greatly

  14. I paid into SS for 24 years before I started working in the public sector…I will not be physically able to work the 27 years that it takes to reach full retirement. The WEP and GPO will be very damaging to my retirement income. I just feel that I have paid into SS then I should get what I have contributed.

  15. I worked, contributing to Social Security over a decade prior to public service, and made more contributions while working a side job while in the Fire Department. As I approached retirement I would get letters from Social Security showing me my estimated monthly income based on my contributions. Then on retirement, when I applied, I was informed I will only be getting a third. If we contributed, why can’t we collect? A person who contributes to a 401k and Soc Sec will get their full Soc Sec. along with their 401k income. Why is it that we who contributed to a pension get less in Soc Sec? We who served the public are singled out to be more impoverished on retiring after putting our lives on the line in service to our community.

  16. I have been following and commenting on this Social Security Fairness site for years. Nothing has changed regarding the WEP or GPO. I would suggest you change your approach or maybe just give it up.

    1. No, you need to change your approach. Commenting on this site might make you feel better, but it does nothing to change things. You need to contact your representatives.

  17. I have sent a full explanation of how WEP and GPO have effected me! There are many more just like me who have most likely sent explanation. If they still don’t understand then we must question their intelligence! This is ridiculous!

  18. Glad to see so many people interested in working on this. We need to spread the word to the members of the House and Senate even if they don´t seem to be listening. Let´s keep at it!

  19. I worked 29 years paying into Social Security…but because I worked six years paying into CALSTRS teachers’ pension plan, I only receive $500+/- in Social Security. Offset? I GUESSS!

  20. My husband worked 22 years in the mines, and various other jobs for years paying into Social Security. I was a stay at home Mom after having my children until 1975 when I start working paying into Social Security. Then in 1980 I began working at Rend Lake College where I paid into SURS. Then after I retired I worked part-time for the Village of Ewing and paid into Social Security for additional 15 years. Due to this Windfall Act I can’t draw anything off my deceased husband of 55 years! My monthly benefit received from SS pays for my Medicare and my electric bill!!! This doesn’t seem fair because I am being penalized because I WORKED! Women are being treated unjust!

    1. You’re absolutely right Sherry, and you have a compelling story. All of your elected representatives need to hear your story and to be asked to cosponsor HR82 & S1302.

  21. I paid 24 years SS $s, I should receive my full SS $s regardless of any other pension I received.

    Me and my wife have a total of 74 yrs 1st responder and we are being punished..We are both disabled..

    This needs to be corrected.

  22. They fixed the issue for retired military on a pension and taking federal jobs do why can’t they fix the issue for us retired federal workers who paid into the system before taking federal jobs. I worked, I paid into the SSA system and I deserve every pitiful cent I earned for my 14 years in private industry. When I worked as a civil servant for over 30 years, I racked up over 5K hours of unpaid leave because my job had to be done. I didn’t complain, but now I am because I pain into SSA and I want the respect of receiving my full SS payments without my federal pension being reduced.

  23. I worded half my teaching career in private schools paying into social security due to Massachusetts Proposition 2 1/2.
    And 1/2 in public schools. I only receive 1/2 my pension.
    If my husband predeceases me, I will not be able to stay in my home.

  24. My Social Security is ALREADY reduced, due to being unable to pay into Soc Sec during my years as a Public Employee. So, why is it being reduced AGAIN due to WEP??? It makes no sense to be penalized when my pension doesn’t even make up for the Soc Sec I lost out on during Public Employment.

  25. I paid into SS. My employers paid into SS as required. The government earned money off of my deposits. That is outright pure theft! If I won the lottery, or invested in the market, I would get full SS. Because I took a pay cut to work for the public sector, I am penalized! Government scum!

  26. I worked two and three jobs for years to support my Family and keep a roof over our heads; Never taking any Welfare or “free money from the government to help out. The wages I received for years as a Firefighter/Paramedic was so low I had to work extra jobs to keep my head above water. I worked after retirement from the Fire Service to paid for Insurance for my wife and I as she got sick, I paid my 40 quarters of SSA and then some. I am getting cut by over 400 dollars a month because I received a Municipal Pension that I was required to pay into in stead of SSA. It does not seems fair by any means.

  27. I understand I did not contribute to ss when working as a state trooper for Alabama but after I retired I did work to qualify to draw my ss by paying my qualifying quarters to do so. Even after that, ss penalized me and said I could not draw but like $250 per month. Even said I was not eligible to draw my wife’s if something happens to her! That’s beyond unfair when they are paying full benefits to foreigners who have paid nothing in to qualify!

  28. I have commercial fished for 45 years in Alaska in the summer. I paid S.S. all that time. Just because I have a state pension I should not be penalized. I should receive my full benefit.

  29. Yep. Everything that has been said above/below is true. Except guess what? You’re preaching to the choir.
    Currently, Senate and House Social Security Fairness (repeal GPO/WEP) bills are working their way through the system. HR82 has 228 cosponsors in Congress and S1302 has 34 cosponsors in Senate. Each time I look, the numbers go up. The reason this is happening is because SOME of you are contacting your representatives, and they are listening. I contacted both of my Senators and my congressional representative… and ALL THREE listened and signed on as cosponsors.
    You can check the progress of these bills at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/82/cosponsors
    That URL will automatically take you to the House of Representatives page for HR82. To see the Senate version, just type S1302 into the Legislation search bar at the top of the same page and tap the search icon.
    These bills actually have a chance because they are bipartisan and they will benefit the working class. These are two constant talking points with elected representatives. So check which of your representatives haven’t cosponsored these bills yet (click on the cosponsors buttons, then scroll down to your state…) and immediately contact them. Complaining to each other won’t get us anywhere. Contacting our representatives will!!!

  30. They stole money that I paid out of my paycheck for Social Security when I wasn’t paying into any other pension plan!

  31. Very well explained. What’s so difficult to understand? Do we need people to testify to congress with income graphs?

  32. I, like Mr. Steve Stoll, have been unable to get a response from anyone; the president, vice president,
    senators on both sides, pelosi, etc…….. It is very disheartening when you hear these assholes pass a one billion dollar bill to provide Israel with rocket protection and yet they cannot seem to bring up the GPO / WEP for a discussion let alone a vote. To every senior out there affected by this law I say , REMEMBER THEM ON YOUR VOTING DAY.

  33. I, like many teachers I know, worked two jobs for over 25 years to make a living wage. One job was teaching and I paid into a pension system. The other jobs were in the private sector where I paid into the Social Security system. I have also been married for 45 years to my husband who paid into the Social Security system. When I retired the WEP stole my Social Security benefits away from me, both the ones I personally earned as well as the ones I should have received from being part of a family unit. Teacher salaries are typically lower than many other fields and, as we have seen during the pandemic, teachers are a vital cog in the wheel of the economy. To penalize me for trying to make ends meet and support my family by working two jobs is ethically and simply wrong.

  34. I am not anti-semetic, but I disagree with the U.S policy in Israel. What relevance is this to the WEP ? Well many US citizens who have worked and retired outside the US , have the WEP applied to them , and are loosing 50% of ss Benefits. But if you retire to Israel, the WEP does not apply , ( Greenberg vs SS) Why is one country of choice of retirement excluded from the WEP ? I know some body will have some kind of explanation, but it will be lawyer talking bluster and bluff, and wont be an answer. Are we Americans not allowed to travel the world and work ? Are we supposed to sit on the porch where we grew up, Stars and Strips waving over our heads, in a jingoisitic bliss, pretending we are the best country in the world, We are a disgrace and we need to deal with these millionaire ‘ representatives in Congress, who are stealing from us in the name of God and Country

  35. I worked for 28 yrs under Social Security. Then got a job with State of Alaska. My SS was reduced to $116. under WEP. I lost $700/mo. I would have been able to have the normal life that I had planned instead of a life of poverty but for this law. PLEASE VOTE TO REPEAL

  36. Why is this lingering on? All I hear is this needs to be changed and nothing is DONE! What exactly needs to be done to accomplish this? I am tired of having to sign a petition and sharing it! That is not working! There has to be another method to get the “GOVERNMENT CROOKS” to give us our money back. WE EARNED & THEY ARE SPENDING IT!

  37. Reagan and Greenspan stole from us. Now the politicians do not care. They get in their chauffeured limos and go home. Do the right thing and repeal this WEP. I will remember you when you are looking for my vote, if you did not cosponsor HR 82. I hope everyone does the same. Look it up and if the politicians in your area did not sign. DON’T VOTE FOR THEM.

  38. I wish everyone good luck. I dont think I,ll ever see it repealed. I am almost 83 years old and have written letters to everyone in congress and also attended town hall meetings with my congressman They just dont seem to care. I think if it applied to them, they would repeal it right away.

  39. Apparently, my long winded comment never made it to this site. Folks, if you are reading this, I can only offer these suggestions as a group: (1) go to “Contact the White House” and use the fill in form to comment directly to Biden and Harris on “directly repealing the WEP / GPO” Harris and Biden KNOW these bills will never pass. Republicans won’t let them. So praying for passage is futile. Even if every Dem signed on, we would never get the 290 head count; (2) call Rodney Davis’s office direct:(202) 225-2371 and tell his aide to pass this along: “Why can’t you, Mr. Davis, who is sponsoring this bill (H.R. 82) a 2x repeal bill, get your Republican colleagues to vote for it.” Keep calling Davis’s number and don’t be nice.

    Cuz folks, if this second bill doesn’t pass, do you really think there will be a 3rd? C’mon now. Call Davis’s office (Illinois Congressman, a state affected) and “tell” him you have family in Illinois and you need him to get this bill passed by getting Republicans to vote on it.

  40. It was never fully explained, and in retrospect, it seems that critical information was not accurately, or adequately presented. Had I known that by taking a teaching job for 9 years, in addition to the 20 years Of working in the private sector and paying into SS, That I would give up 500.00 a month in SS as well as being unable to benefit from my ex spouses SS benefit, I would have never taken the teaching job. Never. It’s not right.

  41. Most people have never heard of these programs. I have a CRS pension. I got a yearly statement showing my full Soc Sec benefit. BUT I only receive 40% of that amount. I paid in full and do not deserve to have any cut. This was started in 1983. If lives can be changed with a stroke of a pen, ( Pres Reagan ) this law should be removed as quickly.

  42. Taking money away from retirees is unfair and should be corrected by appealing WEP/GPO. Times are tough enough without losing the majority of your SS just because you were involved in educating children or other affected jobs.

  43. My Civil Service earnings were not used in the calculation of my SSA. So why should I be penalized as if they did by having everything I EARNED and contributed to SSA ?

  44. Yes, clearly unfair. My Social Security is reduced by about 500 dollars. I earned my SS and am entitled to it Not Happy ex Postal Worker Retired!

  45. From age 15 to age 23 I worked various part-time jobs while in school paying SS. Then from age 23 to 42 I worked as a civil engineer paying SS. Total equivalent years of SS is 24 years. These last years was at a high rate of pay (civil engineer). Then at age 43 I decided to become a teacher… no one warned me of GPO or WEP. Unfortunately I was only able to work teaching for 12 years (ages 44 to 56) due to being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was about halfway into my teaching career that I learned about GPI and WEP. My thoughts at the time was that I’d teach until my own children graduated then get back into engineering work… little did I know that 12 years of teaching (low income) would knock me out of 40% of my Social Security income (paid at highest possible rate). How is this possible? The amount that my SS is supposed to be decreased is a large percentage of what could help a disabled person pay her medical bills. Crazy.

  46. The men I started teaching with in 1962 were grandfathered in when Reagan took away SS from government workers but I took years to have children so I didn’t have 20 years in 1983. I didn’t find out until 2000 when I retired that I would get 0 dollars in spousal SS because of GPO. I was active in my Union, and I read the newspaper everyday. How did this slip by me?? Now those entering teaching have to be told. Too late for me. I’m 84 and will never see a cent of the money my husband contributed to SS. People still say to me you must be mistaken,that can’t be. I even wrote to AARP magazine to write an article so people would understand the unfairness of this law. Women-screwed again.

  47. I have written so many times to people in positions that could help people affected by the Windfall Act, because I too am one of those victims. My husband of 55 years passed and because I had worked at a Junior College and had paid into SURS, I cannot draw any of the social security off my husband. This is so unfair because the money that he paid into Social Security came out of his paycheck, which also took out of our family budget, in turn affected what we could or couldn’t do for our daughters. I was a stay-at-home Mom after our first daughter was born and did not work until our oldest was in the 8th grade and youngest in the 5th grade. At that time, I was an abstractor and paid into Social Security. After 5 years, I went to work at Rend Lake College where I retired after 22 years paying into SURS. After retiring, the Village of Ewing, where my husband and I lived, ask me to serve as the Village Treasurer. I accepted and the job was a part-time job but I paid into Social Security. I worked 15 years for the Village, and during this time my husband passed. I was told I was not eligible to draw off his benefits because of my pension-which is about an .10000% less than the politicians will receive in benefits–I draw a whole $240.00 per month SS after Medicare is deducted. Is this fair???

  48. Trying to get this passed is a joke. I believe all this “write to your Representatives” and these empty promises are only to appease those of us who deserve what is rightly ours……until we die!

  49. Why wasn’t WEP repeal put in the massive infrastructure bill? It would have been the perfect opportunity, plus it can be paid for.

  50. I think maybe a new approach would be to flood the Social media networks with our stories about the outright theft, discrimination, and the lack of support by our Representatives, and Senators. We need to get the word out to others who don’t have a clue how we have been treated.
    I am very disappointed that my Representative Chris Stewart, (Utah) told me in June, 2021 face to face that he supported H.R. 82 and has yet to cosign the legislation. Typical Politician! I didn’t vote for him last time, and will persuade as many as I can not to vote for him. I have tried for over six years to have him actually represent me.

  51. If I had retired to Israel instead of Ireland my Social Security would not be affected. Why is this country the only one exempt from the theft from WEP ? Is the Israeli lobby in the US so powerful they can gain special treatment from SSA ( Greenberg v SSA ) I am not anti-Semitic by any means, but the Israeli lobby is too successful at influencing our congress? Millions of dollars in aid, and special treatment for its residents ,. who are retired US citizens. Why ?
    US citizens who travel the world and are employed, are being penalized by the WEP, I paid into the SSA for the many years I worked in my country of birth, the USA. I have written to former President Clinton, and many others, who ignore me.
    It seems obvious that our representatives are self-serving Hippocrates, bought off by corporations, and foreign powerful interests. We need a revolution, like the French of the 18th century, and some heads for the guillotine.

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