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.

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.

Social Security Information:

Resolutions in the 2019 Louisiana Legislative Session

HCR 20 by Rep. Jones and SCR 34 by Sen. Mizell memorialize Congress to consider eliminating the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) Social Security benefit reductions.

The LASERS Board of Trustees considers the reduction or elimination of the federal offsets WEP and the GPO as a significant Board issue.

At its July 2019 meeting, the LASERS Board voted to support HR 3934, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX). If passed, this legislation would permanently repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and transition to a new formula that the author says treats public servants like all other American workers.

For more information, review the highlights of HR 3934 as compared to the previous legislation and the mechanics of the bill in a letter from the Social Security Administration’s Chief Actuary.

We will continue to track this legislation and keep members informed of its status.

RSEA also monitors legislation on the state and federal level and is committed to the elimination of the offsets.

We encourage you to contact your congressmen directly.