Legislation Aims to Eliminate WEP and GPO

Legislation has been reintroduced to eliminate the WEP and GPO.

Another legislative attempt is being made to eliminate the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) which can impact some retired federal employees.

The Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 82) would eliminate both of these provisions. It is being reintroduced by Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA).

Numerous past efforts have been made to eliminate the WEP and GPO but have ultimately not been successful. They are often bipartisan legislative efforts as well. In 2019, for instance, Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced a WEP repeal bill, and Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced similar legislation during the same year.

A press release issued by Davis describes the intent of the bill as follows:

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) reduces the earned Social Security benefits of an individual who also receives a public pension from a job not covered by Social Security. For example, educators who do not earn Social Security in the public schools but who work part-time or during the summer in jobs covered by Social Security have reduced benefits even though they pay into the system just like others. The WEP also affects people who move from a job in which they earn Social Security to a job, such as teaching, in which they do not.

The Government Pension Offset (GPO) affects the spousal benefits of people who work as federal, state, or local government employees—including educators, police officers, and firefighters—if the job is not covered by Social Security. GPO reduces by two-thirds the benefit received by surviving spouses who also collect a government pension. Nine out of 10 public employees affected by the GPO lose their entire spousal benefit, even though their spouse paid Social Security taxes for many years.

The WEP substantially reduces benefits workers included and counted on when planning their retirement and it substantially penalizes lower paid public employees. These provisions also discourage qualified, talented individuals from entering into public service professions, hindering efforts to attract new math and science teachers from the private sector unwilling to sacrifice earned Social Security from prior careers. The WEP and GPO provisions do not eliminate a windfall for workers, they penalize public service employees by taking away benefits they earned throughout their careers.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.