Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Educators fight unfair Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset that gouge retirement benefits by Brian Washington

Imagine this. You’ve spent the last 30-years dedicating your life to teaching students Algebra at a local high school. And during those decades in the classroom, to help make ends meet, you’ve worked several part-time jobs—including a 15-year stint as a night auditor at a local hotel. But now, you’re looking forward to retirement—that is, until you learn about a government offset called the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which is going to reduce your Social Security check by almost half.

While it sounds like a retirement nightmare, for hundreds of thousands of educators, police officers, fire fighters and other public service employees, it’s a reality. WEP penalizes people who have dedicated their lives to serving their communities by taking away benefits they have earned. It impacts public employees who work in what’s called, “non-Social Security states”—states where Social Security is not withheld from public sector employees. However, if these employees are eligible to collect a benefit as a result of private sector jobs they may have held, WEP robs them of a significant portion of their Social Security checks.

For example, if the retired teacher mentioned earlier–the one who worked part-time as a hotel night auditor–was eligible for a monthly Social Security benefit of $415 and received $1423 from her monthly teaching pension, under the WEP formula, her Social Security benefit would be reduced to $206. For those on a fixed income, that loss of $209 really hurts…

The good news is that one of Allen’s U.S. Senators, Mark Begich (D-AK), is expected to introduce legislation… to repeal WEP. A similar bill–sponsored by Reps. Rodney Alexander (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA)–has already been introduced in the House. Both House and Senate versions will also target another offset that’s penalizing public employees in non-social security states. It’s called the Government Pension Offset, or GPO.

Because of GPO, 9 out of 10 public employees lose their entire Social Security survivor’s benefit, even though their late spouse may have paid Social Security taxes for years. In fact, some 300,000 people lose, on average, about $3,600 a year due to GPO—that’s an amount that can make the difference between self-sufficiency and poverty for those loved ones left behind…

But unfortunately, this problem is not just limited to the 15 non-Social Security states—Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas. Because people move from state to state, there are people impacted by GPO/WEP who live everywhere within the country, and that number continues to grow as more reach retirement age. However, thanks to federal lawmakers like Senator Begich and others, Allen sees a ray of hope extending from Capitol Hill.

Washington’s article is from Educators fight unfair offsets that gouge retirement benefits.

For more information, please read: Speak Out for Social Security Fairness: Repeal Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset


  1. This happened to me. My public pension is considered a "wind fall" and thus my earned $290 was reduced to $90. On the other hand, I believe SS is no longer taken out after you make $104,000. Therefore, if you are a self employed lawyer, after $104,000, you keep 12% more. If you are employed, after 104,000 you keep 6% more (the employer pays the other 6%). I believe SS deductions just went up.

  2. My pension will drop more than half! This is not fair. I will never recover what I put into SS over the years...

  3. I was really applauded when I found out that what was promise to me on my fact sheet and found out that I was getting more than half of my pension deducted.All those years of Blood,Sweat and Tears of life's struggle to be con,lied too and mislead.That my golden years would be taking care, by my honest hard work.Is this what America about? No justice,wars,killing of innocent poor peoples.I'm ashamed to say; I am an American. The American Dream.You have to be asleep to believe in it.

  4. I am 70 years old and have been a public school teacher for the past 24 years. Prior to teaching, I worked in industry and have credit for 21 years of paid social security. My wife has been disabled for years and draws a modest amount of social security. When I decided to become a teacher, I had no idea that the WEP act existed. I have read and heard complaints for years about the injustice of this law, but I have concluded that it will probably never be rescinded in my lifetime. The public is mostly unaware of the existence of this act and, I am convinced, couldn't care less since it doesn't affect them. This is just another example of how the public tells teachers how important they are, but not enough to change this injustice.

  5. My wife worked many years in NYC, then Colorado, Idaho and Florida paying into Social Security. Then the second half of her life, she went to school and we paid for her teaching degree and a masters. She taught and retired on a modest PERA amount but she should also get her modest Social Security check and as spouses do elsewhere a share of my social security amount. Then we hear to our shock as no one ever said we were at risk paying in, that she only got one fifth of just her estimated Social Security and no added benefit from mine. I appreciate the few politicians that are fighting to amend this obsolete and unfair rule. I mean most politicians get a better retirement and health care than we do which seems absurd. Worse, that may contribute to them feeling and acting like an elite class versus being in the same boat with the people they represent. I also do not understand why a federal program is affected by a few (14) states versus being uniformly managed. This is a classic example of government gone wild. Please let me know who I can support towards getting this fixed.

  6. I am also a victim of this WEP theft.The government did not hesitate to take out social security while I worked part time (for over 20 years) to build up for my retirement.
    Now comes the shocker. WEP. I get less or about 1/3 of what I should get from SS. I called Senator Feinstein D for assistance.We are working on getting it repealed was the answer.I then contacted Congressman Ken Calvert R and left an e mail letter asking for help and telling him that the government is stealing from the retirees and if he was going to help us get rid of this unfair theft.Of course, no answer. These jokers in government get all the bennies they vote for them self.Vote for their own COLAs.Bunch of thieves, in my opinion.
    Also, the repeal will not ever come to fruition. It would cost billions of dollars to get this theft straightened out and the government claims it cannot afford that.
    So, continue stealing from the retirees, veterans and other groups of people that have worked for their money. Strangely enough, there is always enough money for welfare, illegal aliens, etc.Go figure.