Government Pension Offset, Windfall Elimination and Your Retirement Future

By on March 31, 2009 in Current Events, Retirement with 9 Comments

A little over a year ago I wrote an article about legislation to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). Since that time we have had an election and seated a new Congress, however the advice I gave in 2008 in an article entitled Don’t Hold Your Breath is as good now as it was then.

The WEP and GPO can affect the Social Security benefits of CSRS retirees, CSRS Offset retirees and FERS retirees who have a CSRS component to their annuity (TransFERS). They can also affect the Social Security of anyone who is collecting a pension from work that was not covered by Social Security, such as teachers, public safety employees and others. Articles which explain these provisions in detail appeared in fedsmith in late 2007. See The Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination and Your Retirement Future.

Ever since the WEP and GPO became law, bills have been introduced to repeal them. None of the bills have passed. In my memory, a repeal bill has never made it out of the House Ways and Means Committee. Even though this session of Congress is only the second session since the enactment of the WEP and GPO where we have a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress, I expect no different this year.

I visited the website of the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees on March 23rd to look at the status of House Bill 235. (NARFE restricts most areas of its website to members. Therefore, if you’re not a member, you will not be able to access the "Legislative Action Center" where I found this information.) I found that 238 members of the House of Representatives had signed on as co-sponsors. That and $2.00 will get me a ride on the "L".

Co-sponsorship of HR 235 simply means that a Representative wants to appear to support issues that are important to federal employees. In fact, the repeal bill in the last session of Congress had over ¾ of Congress listed as co-sponsors, including a majority of the Ways and Means Committee. The words of Christopher Farrell, a legislative representative of NARFE, explain why co-sponsorship isn’t that big a deal. In a February 2008 article in the NARFE magazine, he said "Cosponsorship is reversible – a cosponsor can ask to be removed from the cosponsors of the bill. In sharp contrast, floor votes are final. In fact, cosponsorship can be quite disingenuous. Members can and do vote against bills they have cosponsored."

So what can we do? We can still write or email our elected representatives asking for their support. If your Congressperson is not a co-sponsor, ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor and to support the bill if it comes up for a floor vote. If your Congressperson is a co-sponsor, ask them to do whatever they can to get the bill on the floor for a vote. If your Congressperson is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, ask them to send the bill to the floor of the House for a vote once it gets to committee (which it certainly will).

This year we have another argument we can use when trying to convince our Congresspeople to support repeal. Any additional money given to retirees will go directly into the economy. Retirees are through saving; they are spending and will provide an immediate stimulus to the economy.

My trip to the NARFE website showed me that my Congressman has not yet signed on as a co-sponsor. As soon as I finish this article, I’m going to write him a letter.
 

John Grobe’s latest book, The Answer Book on Your Federal Employee Benefits, has just been released by LRP Publications. The book is written in an easy to understand question and answer format and covers all areas of federal benefits from the perspective of an employee at various stages of their career. Order your copy at shoplrp.com.

© 2016 John Grobe. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from John Grobe.

About the Author

John Grobe is President of Federal Career Experts, a consulting firm that specializes in federal retirement and career transition issues. He is also affiliated with TSP Safety Net. John retired from federal service after 25 years of progressively more responsible human resources positions. He is the author of Understanding the Federal Retirement Systems and Career Transition: A Guide for Federal Employees, both published by the Federal Management Institute. Federal Career Experts provides pre-retirement seminars for a wide variety of federal agencies.

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  1. good_reader1 says:

    As an offset my federal pension was deducted $8K at 62 so that had me apply for Socail Security early.

  2. Fredusmarine says:

    I was approved for ssd and i paid into ss for 21 years and because i retired from the postal service i got nothing and i should have received 780 a month now is this fair-how is a person to live-yhe 21 years was working for a pig farm,dairy farm and a construction laborer and i work hard at this jobs to have it all taken away

  3. Lavonne says:

    I worked for a County Hospital that gave us no benefits like the government employees got. The only benefit I got was my retirement is being paidd from PERS. This is really not a fair bill. I lost 2/3 of my income and still only have medicare. I got no benefits like a true  Government employee gets. Don’t these congress people see that times has changed? I had my heart attack and became disabled in 2001. I was not elgible for SSI because I had not paid into SS. I sat with NO INCOME until 2010. That should have been penelty enough. We finally get alittle comfortable and then I lose my husband and have all this dropped on me. Really not fair. Congress needs to get off thier — and do something.

  4. Shara Saleen says:

    I wonder if anyone has approached the arguments against these two totally unfair bills as blatant discrimination against women? I realize that there are also men that are adversely affected by these bills, but the biggest majority are women. I am getting a government pension of approximately $16,000 a year of gross distribution. My original social security benefit was $402/month, which was reduced to 1/3 of my total SS. I am really breaking the bank here, AND I cannot draw on my husbands SS or a portion of, because I was a loyal 23 year employee of the federal government! And now I am being penalized and discriminated against for that loyalty! Maybe they should hire people from India or China to be public servants, and see where that gets them!! I apologize for my sarcasim, but I cannot help it anymore and I do not want to be one of those unfortunate older citizens that have to eat animal food because my government decided i was unfairly taking advantage of SS! Bull!!! I earned ALL of  my social security and if need be a portion of my husbands as a partner in his life.

  5. Carol Czarkowski says:

    Does anyone know if CSRS (Offset) employees are subject to the same WEP reductions as other CSRS retirees?

  6. Joeb says:

    It’s amazing that these laws have stayed in existence for so long. Retirees have been cheated and/or thrown into poverty by WEP & GPO, yet it would cost very little to give seniors the benefits they have earned though many years of hard work. If we can spend $1.5 trillion fighting a war in Iraq, we can afford to spend a mere additional $6 billion annually to pay Social Security benefits to those harmed by WEP & GPO.

  7. J M Sullivan says:

    The Government Pension Offset Bill was passed in 1983 . . . this is 2011 and the bill has come up every year with hundreds of co-sponsors, but has never gotten out of committee. Guess it is not politically correct. We who have been effected have lost a third of our income but this does not seem to matter to our elected officials who turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the unfair practice of using the Federal workers whenever they need to dig out of their hole. It would be much better if the bill was resolved permanently, rather than have the workers live in high hope that some one year it will pass . . . not, in my lifetime.
    Love your newsletter, informative, concise and tells it as it is. Thank you.

  8. Labradstr926 says:

    How come the general public doesn’t know that public employees have already lost part of their projected retirement funds from the passage some years ago of the WEP and GPO? Now public employees are being asked to dig deeper into their pockets on top of WEP and GPO? I’m a retired teacher with 30 years’ service and I have worked moonlight jobs during my younger years. If I had not been a retired educator, my SS would have been, based on my other jobs, $760 mo. Since I chose to be a public employee, my SS retirement benefit is, instead of the total amount I am entitled, $444/mo. On top of that, I earned $1700/mo. net teachers’ penson , out of which I pay $1300/month for my husband’s and my health insurance premium. Rough arithmetic says I have about $900/mo. to live on. Not so. I still have medications, labs, doctor’s visits, treatments, etc. to pay for out of pocket. I can only afford to see the doctor if I am at death’s door. Is this how I am rewarded for serving the public? Good thing I am married, and so far, my husband’s SS and pension has not been touched. We wait for the other shoe to fall.

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