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What are the GPO and WEP?

The Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provisions (WEP) are Social Security provisions which impact individuals who have chosen to serve their school boards, towns, cities, counties and states in public jobs. If a retired teacher in Louisiana is entitled to Social Security, the GPO and/or WEP unfairly reduces their Social Security benefit. The GPO and WEP are federal provisions that reduce retired public employee’s individual Social Security and/or survivor benefits. 

These provisions impact retired teachers and public servants in Louisiana and other states, such as Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas. Non-public employees with private pensions get to keep their entire Social Security benefit and their Social Security survivor benefits.


How does the GPO work?

The Government Pension Offset (GPO) eliminates or reduces the spousal benefit by an amount that is determined using a formula which factors in the amount of a teacher’s retirement benefit. This reduction occurs whether the Social Security receiving spouse is alive, deceased, or divorced. Remember, the GPO only impacts those individuals who were not eligible to retire prior to December 31, 1982 (at least age 55 and twenty years of credible service).

The GPO reduces, or often eliminates, the spousal benefit by two-thirds the value of a teacher’s retirement benefit. In many cases, retired teachers are unable to draw any spousal or survivor benefits once the GPO is applied.  The following examples help clarify how the GPO may affect an individual in these different circumstances.

How does the WEP work?

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) uses a modified formula that may reduce your earned Social Security benefit. The modified formula applies to you when you attain age 62 or if you become disabled after 1985 and first become eligible after 1985 for a monthly pension based in whole or in part on work where you did not pay Social Security taxes. This provision prevents retired teachers from drawing their full Social Security benefit that they earned while working in a position where they paid Social Security taxes (active teachers in Louisiana do not pay into Social Security). However, you can be exempt from the WEP if you have 30 years of substantial Social Security earnings.

The WEP reduction formula does not totally eliminate potential Social Security earnings. It is important to remember that in cases where a complete offset has not occurred (even with the GPO), any increase in the teacher’s benefit, even the provision of periodic COLAs from the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana, will result in a recalculation of the Social Security benefit. In other words, as the teacher’s annuity goes up, the Social Security benefit goes down.


What’s being done about it?

Each year, several bills are proposed by members of the U.S. Congress which address the reduction or repeal of both the GPO and WEP.  The Coalition to Preserve Retirement Security has information regarding these proposals posted on their website,

In addition, a grassroots organization founded in California–Social Security Fairness–has developed a web site that provides updated information on the repeal initiative.  That web site address is  The web site provides a thorough explanation of GPO/WEP, and suggests steps you can take to further the cause for the repeal of these federal statutes.

In 2021, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-R) filed H.R. 82, or the Social Security Fairness Act of 2021. H.R. 82 seeks to repeal the GPO and WEP. Rep. Davis filed a similar bill in 2019, H.R. 141, which received over 270 cosponsors and bipartisan support. For more information about H.R. 82, its status and current cosponsors, go to

LRTA SUPPORTS repealing the GPO and WEP. LRTA will continue to monitor H.R. 82 along with any other federal legislation in regard to repealing these provisions. LRTA Executive Director Rodney Watson has sent letters to Louisiana’s U.S. Representatives asking them to cosponsor H.R. 82 or thanking them for cosponsoring the bill. Click here to read the letters.

Click here to send a message to your Louisiana U.S. Representative asking them to cosponsor H.R. 82 or thanking them for cosponsoring.