AREOC Legislative Activity (GPO/WEP)
Are you presently working or retired from a federal, state or local government job not covered by Social Security?
Is your spouse working in or retired from a job that is covered by Social Security?
Have you ever worked in or retired from a job that was covered by Social Security?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be subject to the Government Pension Offset or the Windfall Elimination Provision laws and may have your Social Security benefit reduced or eliminated. Is this fair? Of course not!
How do I find out if GPO or WEP affects me?
To find out if you are affected by the GPO or WEP call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (for the deaf or hard of hearing, call this TTY number, 1-800-325-0778) and ask:
- The amount of your government offset.
- Whether the offset is by GPO or WEP.
- The month and year you began receiving Social Security benefits.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONCERNING GPO/WEP READ ON.
The GPO affects Social Security Benefits you receive as a spouse or widow(er).
Q: I receive a Government Pension. Will I receive any Social Security on my spouse’s record?
A: Probably not. Some or all of your Social Security spouse’s/widow(er)’s benefit may be offset if you receive a pension from a federal, state or local government job where you did NOT pay Social Security taxes.
Q: How much is the offset?
A: Your Social Security benefits will be reduced by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension.
Q: Why will my Social Security benefits be reduced?
A: Benefits paid to wives, husbands, widows and widowers are “dependent’s” benefits, established in the 1930s to compensate spouses who stayed home to raise a family and who were financially dependent on the working spouse. However, as it has become more common for both spouses to work, each earned his or her own Social Security retirement benefit. The law has always required that a person’s benefit as a spouse, widow or widower be offset dollar for dollar by the amount of his or her own retirement benefit. (Dual Entitlement Rule). Congress intended to ensure that government employees who do not pay Social Security taxes would be treated in a similar manner to those who work in the private sector and do pay Social Security taxes.
Source: SSA Publication No. 05-10007, May 1995, April 2004.
The WEP affects how your retirement or disability benefits are figured if you receive a pension from work NOT COVERED by Social Security.
Q: Who is affected?
A: This provision primarily affects people who earned a pension from working for a government agency and also worked at other jobs where they paid Social Security taxes long enough to qualify for retirement or disability benefits.
Q: Why is a different formula used?
A: Social Security benefits . . . ensure that lower-paid workers get a higher return (about 55%) than highly paid workers (about 25%) of pre-retirement earnings. Before 1983, benefits for people who spent time in jobs NOT COVERED by Social Security were computed as if they were long-term low wage earners. They received the advantage of a higher percentage of benefits in addition to their other pension. Congress passed the WEP to eliminate this advantage in 1983.
Source: SSA Publication No. 05-10045, Jan. 2000 Jan. 2005.
Where can I find more information on this subject?
The following sources will provide more detail on the GPO and WEP. They are provided for informational purposes only. REAOC does not endorse any of these organizations.
- Orange County Employees Retirement System (OCERS) Click on “Member Services” then click on “Social Security Info”
- American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
- California Retired Teachers Association (CRTA)
- National Education Association (NEA)
- Petition Supporting GPO and WEP Repeal (petitiononline.com)
- Social Security Administration (SSA)
Where can I find an address for my Federal Congressman or Senator?