Social Security Offsets: Current Information

What are the GPO and the WEP?

The two laws, entitled the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), affect public employees who receive a public pension from states (including Massachusetts) that opted out of the Social Security system for their employees.

The GPO reduces the Social Security spousal benefit an affected public employee can receive. So, a teacher who spent a career in public service -- while a deceased spouse worked at a private company and paid Social Security -- is only eligible for a small percentage of the spousal Social Security benefit the spouse earned. Nine out of 10 public employees affected by the GPO lose their entire spousal benefit.

The WEP reduces an individual's own Social Security benefits earned while working in a job covered by Social Security. For instance, a teacher who spends summers working at a paint store isn't allowed to receive the full Social Security benefit he or she paid into the Social Security system.

The impact of these unfair offsets is primarily felt in those states in which public employees like educators are not covered by Social Security (Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas). However, because people move from state to state, there are affected individuals everywhere.

GPO/WEP Talking Points

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