Social Security Offsets: WEP & GPO

In most cases, employees of the State of Louisiana who are members of LASERS are not required to pay Social Security tax. However, if you are entitled to a Social Security benefit, either your own from private sector employment or a spouse’s or widow/widower’s benefit, that benefit may be reduced because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) or the Government Pension Offset (GPO).

Your LASERS benefit will NOT be reduced, but you should be prepared for a reduction in your Social Security benefits.

The LASERS Board of Trustees considers the reduction or elimination of the WEP and GPO as a significant Board issue. However, any change to these offsets must be made on the federal level. LASERS continues to track federal and state legislation regarding changes to the WEP and GPO and will keep members informed as changes occur. RSEA also monitors legislation and is committed to the elimination of the offsets.

Why are my Social Security benefits potentially reduced or eliminated?

Originally, the State of Louisiana was not allowed to participate in Social Security to provide coverage for its public employees. When Social Security was later open to public employees, Louisiana did not opt into coverage.

Both WEP and GPO are designed to offset the amount of Social Security benefits paid to those eligible to receive some other type of public pension; in this case your LASERS retirement. The type of Social Security benefit a LASERS member is eligible to receive determines how Social Security reductions will be applied.

Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

The Windfall Elimination Provision or WEP does not apply to survivors’ benefits. It applies to a benefit you earned because of private sector employment.

A modified benefit formula is used to calculate your Social Security benefit amount if you get a LASERS pension, resulting in a lower Social Security benefit.

Click here to view a history of the WEP and an explanation of how it works from the Congressional Research Service.

You may be able to avoid the Social Security offset if you meet one of these criteria*:

  • You were age 62 or disabled before 1986, or
  • You qualified for a LASERS retirement benefit, including a reduced benefit, by having worked at least 10 years before September 1, 1985 (but had not attained normal retirement age or retired prior to that date), or
  • You have at least 30 years of “substantial” earnings in a job where you paid Social Security taxes. If you have between 21 and 29 years of substantial earnings, you should not be subject to the full reduction.

LASERS can provide you with a letter indicating the date of your first retirement eligibility which you can submit to the Social Security Administration. Please request the letter at least three months prior to reaching age 62.

* Only Social Security can make the final determination.

There are many variables in calculating Social Security benefits, so we encourage you to make an appointment with the Social Security office at least three months before you reach the age of 62. They can answer your questions and calculate your reduced benefit.

Government Pension Offset (GPO)

The GPO affects the Social Security benefit paid to you based on earnings of your deceased spouse if you also receive a pension from a government agency, such as LASERS.

Your Social Security benefit may be completely eliminated because you receive a government pension.

You may be able to avoid the Government Pension Offset if you meet one of the following criteria*:

  • You were eligible to retire before December 1982, and you meet all of the requirements for Social Security Spouses’ benefits that were in effect in January 1977.
  • You were eligible to retire before July 1, 1983, and were receiving half of your support from your spouse.

LASERS can provide you with a letter indicating the date of your first retirement eligibility which you can submit to the Social Security Administration. Please request the letter at least three months prior to reaching age 62.

*Only Social Security can make the final determination.

What’s the latest on H.R. 82 in Congress?

Legislation that would repeal programs that eliminate or reduce Social Security retirement benefits for some federal employees remains a major topic of discussion in Congress.

HR 82, the Social Security Fairness Act of 2023, is sponsored by Representative Garrett Graves (R-LA) and is co-sponsored by more than 300 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would eliminate both the WEP & GPO. View the status of HR 82 and more information here.

We encourage you to contact your congressmen directly.

April 2024 Update:

The House Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing on the WEP and GPO on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

November 2023 Update:

The House Ways and Means Committee held a field hearing in Louisiana on November 20, 2023, on the impact of Social Security’s WEP and GPO. A recording of the hearing is now available here on the Ways and Means Committee website.

The recording offers valuable insights into how the WEP and GPO impact the benefits of public servants and is a great resource for those who wish to review the content.

Watch the Video

This video explains how the federal offsets, WEP and GPO, can affect your Social Security benefit if you receive a LASERS pension.

Watch the Video

Contact SSA

Phone: 1-800-772-1213

www.ssa.gov (WEP & GPO calculators)

Information for Government Employees