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Revisiting WEP and GPO

Posted on Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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by The Association of Mature American Citizens
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7 Comments
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One of the most nagging criticisms of the U.S. Social Security program is found in the persistent outcries of unfairness from the people affected by two scorned sections of the program’s massive rulebook. Anyone following legislative activities involving Social Security will quickly know that we’re talking about the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO)—two program sections sometimes referred to as the “evil twins” and often subjected to harsh accounts of their detrimental effects.

WEP has existed since the 1983 Social Security Amendments were signed into law, and GPO goes back even further—to the 1977 Social Security Amendments. It’s fair to say both have been unpopular since they first appeared, and many unsuccessful attempts to either repeal or soften the provisions’ impact on Social Security benefits have surfaced in Congress. In fact, more than a dozen proposals have been introduced in the last three Congressional sessions, none resulting in legislative change.

Now, in the current Congressional session, H.R. 82 and S. 597—both carrying the title “Social Security Fairness Act–are gaining momentum as the latest incarnation of the campaign to eliminate WEP and GPO. Both bills have attracted considerable attention on behalf of those affected. Numerous articles have surfaced labeling WEP and GPO as unquestionably extreme in their punishing nature, and much testimony has been submitted in public hearings about the “unfair” and “unjust” impact they can have on retirees.

So, are the Allegations of Unfairness Warranted?

AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory Service has handled hundreds of inquiries from WEP- and GPO-affected parties, prompting considerable research into the complaints expressed by callers. In all cases, we’ve taken care to explain the reason why these provisions were enacted decades ago, along with a recap of how they work.

Our Advisory Service’s research has led to a conclusion that—perceptions of equity and fairness aside—much of the displeasure is related to an unexpected impact on the retirement income assumed in financial plans. Arriving at retirement and facing a financial setback at a point where there is little time to adjust can clearly be jarring.

An article posted a few weeks ago on this site provided background on how these two provisions came into existence, and explained how they work to adjust benefits. The article also introduced a key element of the argument that needs to be understood in order to answer the fairness question, and announced the scheduling of a webinar to explore WEP and GPO in depth.

The webinar was held as planned March 13, 2024 and a recording of the material presented can be viewed on the “Videos” page of the AMAC Foundation’s website. We invite you to view the recording at your convenience, and we’d be interested in any feedback you might have on the WEP-GPO issue. You can reach us at [email protected].

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ROBIN
ROBIN
25 days ago

Yet they don’t have a problem giving this money to non americans that have not contributed a dime in it…

George Morgan
George Morgan
26 days ago

I’m a victim of GPO . My point was that I paid into my government pension AND Social Security at the same time. There should be NO offset when I reached my full SS retirement age.

Russ
Russ
25 days ago

Penalizing people who earned SS benefits from one career because they didn’t contribute in another career is discriminatory.

Betty
Betty
26 days ago

I am a good example of how these bills hurt people. I worked in a clothing store on weekends through high school & college back in about 1950. I started teaching school in 1956 & taught until about 1963. Had children & taught off & on for over 25 years, many of them in Private schools. In 1975 I got my Real Estate License & then in 1980 got my Broker’s License & worked full time until 1993 when I went back to teaching & also doing RE & Property Mgt part time. I did not know or understand the rules for Retirement & Soc Security. Little did I know my retirement from teaching would be less than $1500 & I could not draw my Social Security at the same time. I’m 88. I worked my entire life either full time or partime & I draw 1/2 of my husbands SS.because I can’t draw mine. I earned both. It does not seem at all fair. Pass these bills so people get their fair benefits.i failed to mention that we bought many years of retirement back when I retired in Texas.

Smike
Smike
10 days ago

Our government is and never has been retirement friendly. They tax social security, how stupid is that. They tax your military retirement, they tax your civilian federal retirement, they reduce the annuity of your retirements because you earned two separate federal retirements. How does that even make sense? Did you not earn both separate from each other? My paid grade for my civilian job had nothing to do with my military grade. Retirement isn’t a free ride; it’s a rare benefit of working for an organization that provides it. And unfortunately, they’re getting fewer and fewer out there. The free ride is given to those who get the benefits without paying a cent into taxes or social security. This is why social security is going broke, we’re giving our money to the free riders.
I have nothing against Welfare, we need to help people out. But Welfare and social security should not be in the same pot. Social security should be limited to those who paid their dues. I shouldn’t be paying my own social security in retirement. If I spend 30 years in the military, got out and spent 20 years in a civilian federal position I earned two retirements. Not one and a half, I earned two retirements. So why don’t I get paid the full amounts of two retirements? Your VA benefits also take a hit from this.

Sandy March
Sandy March
10 days ago

I was never a FERS employee. Apparently the original thought was to apply these two restrictions on FERS folks, yet the unintended consequence is that it affects non FERS folks. Maybe they did see that and merely rubbed their greedy little hands together. One third of my 36 years of working was outside the SS system, so they penalize me for 2/3 of the SS I earned. If I earned it, I should get it. At the same time they passed these 2 POS of legislation, did they dock their own retirement? I am beside myself with anger over the fact that I hear repealing these two POS bills would bankrupt SS. Then replace the money you stole from it and put into the General Fund! And! You seem to have no problem giving giving giving to non citizens who never paid into SS! If a woman never worked, she gets 1/2 of her spouse’s benefits – but not me! If my spouse dies before me, my income will be cut in half making me just about destitute. Maybe I should give up my citizenship, go to Mexico, sneak in, and get free everything!

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