Quick Information About the WEP and GPO

Updated 3/7/22

As of December 2021, there were 2,695,072 persons already retired whose Social Security retirement benefits have been reduced or eliminated.

As of 2018, there were 6.6 million persons currently working who will be affected by the offsets when they retire. Persons affected are those who have earned Social Security retirement benefits through their own contributions or through those of their spouse.

WEP Facts:

  • 1,971,102 current retirees were affected by the WEP as of 12/21; 55% were men.
  • 4% of all retired worker Social Security beneficiaries are affected by the WEP.
  • The maximum reduction for new retirees in 2022 is $512 a month.
  • The WEP causes a higher percentage cut of their earnings for lower income recipients than it does for higher-income recipients.
  • The penalty is decreased for people who have Substantial SS Earnings each year for 20 years or more. (“Substantial Earnings” for the 2022 year is $27,300)

GPO Facts:

  • 723,970 current retirees were affected as of December, 2021.
  • 1% of all Social Security beneficiaries are affected.
  • The GPO can reduce total retirement earnings by up to 40% (pension plus SS)
  • 83% of those affected are women.
  • 71% of those affected lose ALL their Social Security benefits.
  • 52% lose spousal benefits. 48% lose widow’s or widower’s benefits.
  • The GPO causes a higher percentage cut for lower-income retirees.

Cost of Repeal

Getting Attention–When you have a platform, use it!

In order to reach full repeal, we need to explain to the public how unfair and damaging the offsets really are!  When you are at a town hall with elected officials and candidates, here are some suggestions of what to say:

  1. I didn’t know that this would happen to me until I went to the Social Security office to claim my benefits. They never told us! Warning new public employees about the offsets was not a law until 2005, which was after I had retired. 
  2. I lose _____ every month because of the WEP, or GPO, because of the Social Security that I earned.
  3. My husband planned on my receiving his Social Security after he passed. I actually have a (small, basic) teacher pension, so I get nothing from his years of work.  He never knew.
  4. I have worked every summer since high school to earn my Social Security in addition to my teacher pension. Now, in retirement, I find my Social Security benefits are less than other people who paid the same amount into FICA.
  5. People who retire with other retirement assets don’t lose their Social Security benefits, but since I worked for my community, I lose the benefits I have earned.
  6. I only worked for low wages compared to what people earn now, but what happens with the WEP and GPO is that we low-pension retirees lose a larger percentage of our retirement income to the WEP/GPO than people with bigger pensions. The way the offsets work is just wrong!
  7. I paid into Social Security at the same amount as other workers.  There doesn’t need to be extra money found to repeal the WEP and GPO.  Our contributions are part of the “trust fund” just like everyone else’s.
  8. I was married for 30 years.  I have fully earned spousal and survivor benefits. In my state we have community property, so half the money both my husband and his boss contributed to FICA was my money, also. Because of the GPO, I get nothing from those contributions. If we divorce, he gets half my pension, but I get NONE of his Social Security!