Graves, Spanberger leading charge to repeal WEP, GPO

After a bill that would repeal a pair of programs that negatively affect social security benefits for government employees in Louisiana and their spouses did not pass during the previous Congress, it was reintroduced in the 2023 Congress.

U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (LA) and U.S. Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (VA) are leading the bipartisan national effort to fix the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO).

These two 1980s-era flawed federal laws can result in massive cuts – including the total elimination – of a retiree’s Social Security payments.

The pair is garnering strong support for H.R. 82- the Social Security Fairness Act, which would fully repeal WEP/GPO. The bill has 128 cosponsors of the 250 cosponsors needed after four weeks. WEP affects two million social security beneficiaries, and GPO impacts 780,000 retirees.

“WEP and GPO only provide a disincentive or penalize thousands of Louisiana’s public servants. Our teachers, police officers, firefighters, emergency responders, and other local and state public servants – and their spouses or survivors – have been wrongly penalized,” Graves wrote in a news release. “We will keep fighting to get them the full retirement benefits they paid for, including those who have already retired. We’re not giving up.”

Graves was a big part of the bill that former Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced in 2021. That bill passed the co-sponsor threshold but got as far as the union calendar in September 2022.

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is a formula used to reduce Social Security benefits for individuals who paid into both civil service pensions and Social Security throughout their careers. While the WEP was intended to prevent “windfalls,” in practice, it unfairly penalizes public servants like firefighters, police officers, and teachers by reducing their retirement checks.

The Government Pension Offset (GPO) reduces the spousal-dependent benefits of individuals who did not pay into Social Security themselves by two-thirds of their government pension. In some cases, this results in individuals receiving zero Social Security benefits, even if their spouse paid in their entire working career.

“As a Member of Congress representing thousands of federal employees and retirees, I remain committed to eliminating the WEP and the GPO. Last Congress, we saw massive, bipartisan support for delivering this long overdue peace of mind to public servants in Virginia and across the country,” Spanberger said. “The Social Security Fairness Act recognizes the sacrifices that come with serving our communities, our Commonwealth, and our country. I want to thank Congressman Graves for his continued partnership on this issue – and I am looking forward to finally righting this wrong and making sure America’s federal employees, teachers, police officers, and firefighters receive the retirement security they deserve.”

To read the full list of cosponsors, click here.

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