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Issue Explainer

GPO/WEP (Social Security Penalties)

Public servants in Alaska are subject to Social Security penalties that deprive them of benefits they have earned
Published: March 18, 2024

The Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) discourage people from becoming educators, especially those in mid-career who stand to lose Social Security benefits they have already earned.

That, in turn, can adversely affect the quality of the education our students receive.

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The Impact of GPO/WEP


More than 2.5 million impacted

More than 2.5 million hard-working Americans, including many educators, have their Social Security benefits reduced—or lose them entirely—due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO).

The impact of WEP

The WEP reduces the Social Security benefits of people who work in jobs covered by Social Security and jobs NOT covered by Social Security over the course of their careers—for example, educators compelled to take part-time or summer jobs to make ends meet. Some people receiving foreign pensions are also subject to the WEP.

The impact of GPO

The GPO reduces—or eliminates—the Social Security spousal or survivor benefits of people who also get a pension based on federal, state, or local government employment NOT covered by Social Security. Two-thirds of the pension amount is deducted from the Social Security benefit—for someone getting a $1,500 pension, for example, the Social Security benefit is lowered by $1,000. More than 70 percent of those affected by the GPO lose their entire spousal or survivor benefit.

Bills in Congress

Repealing GPO and WEP

The Social Security Fairness Act

The Social Security Fairness Act would fully repeal both the GPO and WEP.
Strengthening benefits

The Social Security 2100 Act

The Social Security 2100 Act would fully repeal both the GPO and WEP, expand and strengthen benefits, and ensure that wealthier Americans pay their fair share.
Expanding Social Security

The Social Security Expansion Act

The Social Security Expansion Act phases out the payroll tax cap, increases benefits, and updates the formula for calculating the annual cost-of-living adjustment.
Relief for WEP retirees

The Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act

The Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act would provide relief payments of $150 a month to current WEP retirees, establishes a new, fairer formula and a permanent benefit guarantee.
Gayle Harbo
We’ve got to do everything we can to repeal GPO/WEP. It’s too discouraging for people to go into teaching.
Quote by: Gayle Harbo, Retired Alaska Math Teacher

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