OPERS endorses two WEP reform bills

We’re hopeful Congress will pursue a solution to help our members

By Matt Overturf, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Oct. 31, 2019 – The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System recently endorsed two pieces of legislation in Washington that would reform the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision and provide a measure of relief for our members and retirees who have been impacted by the offset.

Under the current WEP law, retirees who are eligible to receive a pension from OPERS (or other public retirement systems), as well as Social Security, for working a portion of their career in the private sector often see their Social Security benefit reduced.

As we have heard from many of our retired members, WEP relief is one of their most pressing issues. OPERS’ Government Relations staff have been active on this issue for many years. As we continue to engage with members of Congress, we are encouraged by the current efforts to modify the WEP formula and bring much-needed relief to our retirees and the millions of public employees around the country who are impacted.

While other states may have larger populations of public employees who are impacted by the WEP, Ohio has the highest percentage of non-Social Security-covered public employees in the country. We are proud to strongly support both WEP reform bills, HR 3934 Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act and HR 4540 Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act, and urge Congress to continue to work toward a unified solution that can be enacted into law.

You can read our full endorsement letter here.

  • That’s a good thing keep pursuing we the people paid into that system under law and Congress is with holding are Paid commitment

    • I was wondering about the WEP for social security from my ex-husband. I will be able to draw from his social security. We were married for 27 yrs. As I know of now, Social Security takes 2/3 from what I would be able to receive because they say, that would be double dipping. It seems as if they are double dipping.

      • Pauline,

        If you have questions concerning the Government Pension Offset (GPO) or Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), contact your local Social Security office or access its website at ssa.gov. GPO may affect you if you are eligible for Social Security benefits through your spouse. WEP may affect you if you qualify for Social Security benefits due to your own work history.

        Julie, OPERS

  • This is wonderful news, but have we heard this before? I have been impacted by this for many years and I’m struggling to Make ends meet. Social Security is such a volatile issue and one I hope to live to see it resolved. God bless you for all your doing on our behalf Genevieve

  • This is the most unfair law I have ever experienced! When my husband retired, you took 2/3 of his SS away…. money that he worked hard for and had every right to it! What difference does it make that he took another job with PERS …… that is highway robbery that you will not give people what is theirs…. shame on our government and anyone for this outdated law! We only want what’s rightfully ours !!!

  • I never worked under SS long enough for this legislation to affect me. But my husband is now receiving SS. If he dies before me, that would stop. Is there legislation in the works to change that?

  • MY HUSBAND WORKED UNDER SOCIAL SECURITY FROM THE AGE OF 16 UNTIL HE RETIRED AT 62 AND DIED AT THE AGE OF 64. I worked in Public Housing for 30 years and also have my quarters in Social Security – after Medicare is taken out I get $18/monthly deposited into my account – as my tax person said that doesn’t even buy toilet paper. Why are women affected the most. Because we earned less. Shame. Repeal it all.

  • Personally my Social Security Benefit was reduced almost 64% from the WEP law.
    This bill rips off hard working public service employees that are denied benefits they earned and paid for. This WEP law should be voted out. So those who earned these benefits get what they deserve Thanks for your work on this OPERS

  • I payed into Social Security like everyone else for 18 years. Now I’m being punished because I changed my career. It’s just wrong! Please correct this.

  • I have been watching this for the past 6 years with no result shown. At this time all my SS is being withheld and I receive now a bill for part B. It took 6 years to go to $0. So unfair for it is my money that was paid into system prior to working under PERS.
    I have little hope.

    • I too have to pay for part b and because of the unfair windfall the little bit of social security I was getting is not enough to cover my Medicare so now because of the windfall I owe them. So unjust!!!!

  • I’m kind of in the middle of pers and social security.roughly will have 20 years in each.pers has reduced my retirement considerably from what it said in 05 when I was hired.the way it’s set up now I would of had more retirement if I stayed in the private sector.

  • Thank you for your continued work. I am one who worked in both sectors and have seen my social security significantly decreased!

  • Thank you for sponsoring this bill. Many of us in OPERS paid into social security as well. We should receive our fair share of the money we paid into the system.

  • My husband passed away in 1996 at 59 yrs, he had worked for private industries from the age of 16 until about age 30 and paid into SOcial security! After entering PERS they changed the law! He worked for Courts approximately 30 years!!
    When he passed away, I received nothing of what he paid into SSA!!! And when I retired after working under PERS for 27 years, have only
    Received 83.00 a month of what I had paid into SSA! Very unfair, especially for a widow!!!!

    Linda Dwyer

  • I paid into Social Security before my public employment and I’m paying into Social Security after my public employment. I should be able to receive the full benefit I qualify for. It is no more “double dipping” than anyone else who receives a private pension.

  • Reading over the reports and the actual legislation is pretty interesting. The bill is being predicted to have a 2% chance of passing. It is being sponsored by long list of Republicans with I Democrat supporter – that I can find. And, as before, the bill more or less supercedes the WEP with a complicated formula that looks to me like it will probably cut the present earnings of a very large percentage of PERS retirees rather than restore them to full SS earnings. It does give some very low income pensioners a monthly stipend that might help pay the Medicare Part B premium.

    • Thank you for sharing that information. Let’s pray that someone wakes up soon and allows those of us who have sacrificed to do public service work (and yes, at times it had been a very real sacrifice with very little respect) to collect ALL benefits that we paid into.

    • HR 3934 was introduced by Republicans on 7/24/19 and has 41 cosponsors – 38 Republicans and 3 Democrats. The Democrats, refusing to sign on to a bill introduced by Republicans, introduced their own version of a WEP reform bill – HR 4540 – on 9/2719. It has 50 cosponsors – 48 Democrats and 2 Republicans. It is apparent to me that as long as the 2 parties continue to dig in and fight each other, that no significant legislation that benefits the people in general will ever be enacted. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for either of these 2 bills to move forward – they will both die in chambers. I suggest that OPERS , who represents retirees of BOTH parties, would serve us better by making pleas to these Representatives of the People to stop the partisan politics and start doing the job they were elected to do . . . represent ALL the people, not just the ones who put them in office!

      • I so agree with you on this. It’s a shame that individuals with such power, abuse it for their own party interest!!! I’m entitled to what I earned prior to entering OPERS. I do hope something is figured out prior to my actual date of entitlement.

  • I certainly hope this is finally passed. I’m retired under OPERS but I did work my 40 quarters way before I was in law enforcement and while in las enforcement I worked many off duty jobs in which social security was taken out. Right now I get only one third of what I should be getting from Social Security.

  • I worked for many years paying into the social security system before working as a public employee. I have credits to receive benefits from social security as well as receiving my pension from PERS. I feel that I earned my benefit from social security, and that cutting it by nearly 60% is totally wrong. This definitely needs to be reformed and made fair towards retirees…..Thank You…Larry R. Stanley

  • Thank you so much for endorsing these two WEP Reform Bills. Praying that we can get these passed. I’m effected as well as many others. My husband worked all his life (42 years) under Social Security. He passed away in 2005 of colon cancer. Obviously he never collected Social Security and because of the Windfall Act I could not collect any of his Social Security. This is not fair and it is definitely not double dipping. We need to continue the fight until we win. Thank you.

  • That’s great but I’m affected by the GPO. WHY IS THERE NO SUPPORT FOR REFORM OR DOING AWAY WITH THE GPO??? I receive SS on my deceased husbands SS account which is reduced by 2/3 of my PERS pension. My husband paid into SS his whole life yet I’m not allowed to receive that money because I worked as a state employee the last 25 years of my career. If I had NEVER had a job I could have collected what he paid in to SS. THAT’S ABSOLUTELY CRAZY!! How about some help for those penalized by the GPO!!! I’m 67 years old and have had to start working part time jobs to be able to support myself which is really difficult because of declining health. Instead of being able to enjoy retirement and the benefits of not having to work as my body ages, I am experiencing the worst time of my life, ever!

  • Support of anything to relieve the WEP rules would be great. Every time we get a COLA raise my widows benefit from SS has to be re-evaluated and reduced. I’ve over 20 years in SS myself.

  • I want to say a sincere thank you for taking on this challenge! I am one of those who was affected by the unfair WEP. I never understood why I should be penalized for starting my working career in the public sector and ended up retiring in the government sector – retiring from employment in the Clerk of Courts Office of Summit County, Ohio. I don’t even know how much I’ve been cheated out of – and yes! I feel cheated, because money was withheld from my SS check that I had paid into for years before going to work for county government. What right does anyone have to do this to anyone? As far as I’m concerned, they have no right……..but they did it anyway. Please do all you can to have this WEP repealed!!! It’s been in effect too long and has affected too many and was wrong from the very first day of implementation. It would also be a Godsend if you could make it possible for all money withheld to be retroactive to give us back all that was taken from us! Again, thank you so much. You have no idea how much I and all those that have been affected by WEP appreciate your efforts!!! May God bless you in your anticipated success!

  • Please continue your fight! We who have worked in the social security system for so long and have been penalized so unjustly after we contributed all of our quarters have been fighting for this individually for years and years! One of my best friends worked so hard writing senators and congressmen to no avail! She passed away losing the fight. With rising healthcare costs and everything else rising it has become a real burden to not have what we worked so hard for. Please please please continue to fight with all your might.

  • We need every retired person to call congress to get this injustice reversed . We worked before and paid in and now they only want to give us a little portion back . We as retired citizens need support any way we can to get congress to correct this issue .

  • as in the past, I strongly support any effort to reduce/eliminate the WEP discrimination against PERS retires/workers. I’m hopeful that this time some actual results are forthcoming, but will take a wait & see attitude. I can only hope PERS has more influence on these bills than in the past & for our benefit, I wish you well.

  • This definitely needs to be repealed, we who worked under Social Security prior to or after pers paid into Social Security the same amount of taxes as everybody else. Now we are penalized, totally unfair I hope our legislators continue to fight for the removal of this unfair law.

  • Has anyone also addressed the government pension offset? This effects retires who if they did not receive a government pension would be able to collect from their spouses social security. As it is if this person looses their spouses social security income they will receive nothing and loose this income fromtheir spouse. Most opers pension people receive a pension which eliminates any income form their spouses social security. this also becomes a hardship for them if their spouse dies.

  • With new changes coming to OPERS regarding COLA increases being reduced for retirees, I believe the WEP should go away. We earned that money and should receive what we’re entitled to. Do the do the same for retirees who have a 401K and also Paid into social security. Since our COLAs May be reduced or not given for a few years, receiving full SS payment would certainly help. Thank you, OPERS, for fighting for us.

  • I have been anxiously awaiting for this legislation because I believe everyone that has worked in both sectors, the public and private, and is eligible for both benefits such as OPERS and Social Security, should be receiving benefits from both systems. I worked hard to retire and believe I/we should be receiving the Social Security benefit along side my/our OPERS pension. Thank you so much for working on our behalf.

  • For members like myself that have lost part of their social security because of our public pension have heard this legislation BS for a good number of years. With SS going broke and having a public pension I’m sure that this same talk or repeal legislation will continue another 40 years.If you think it’s actually going to happen,I suggest you start using non toxic white-out.
    All we can hope for is that OPERS quits trying to reduce our pensions either by taking our COLA or health insurance.

  • My exact situation. Applied, couldn’t believe this! The woman at SS office advised me In June, it’s called “double dipping! ” I am penalized for wanting to work and earn a living. Here in TX. I have NEVER seen so many recipients of SS, who have never worked, getting it illegally, working while disabled etc. Receiving benefits. Despicable…..

  • All of these comments need to be forwarded to the legislators. If they want our votes, they will not put this off any longer. They will right this terrible wrong being done to working, tax paying, voting citizens of the USA.
    I too have been penalized as all of you and it makes me very angry that WEP and GPO continues to exist!

  • Thank you for pursuing this while I worked most of my career under PERS, I would like to collect my years in Social Security.

  • After they reduced my social security I don’t even have enough left to pay for Medicare. Please keep fighting for us to get the money back that is due us.

  • Folks, all or most of you have worked for “the government’ for many years and by now should know that these proposals are meaningless. Politicians just pandering for votes! I commend OPERS for supporting these 2 pieces of legislation but my prediction is that they will die in committee. Miracles do happen. Color me cynical but that is what 30+ years working for “the government” will do to you!

  • If it is not repealed completely, whatever they come up with for a replacement will not benefit many, if any, OPERS retirees. This was BS when it was made the law of the land, and remains so today. Just one more hand, and a big one, in our pockets.

  • Long overdue. This is so unfair as basically you are penalized for having worked part of your life in jobs covered by SS and then taking. PERS job. Never has made any sense.

  • according to the “private sector” earnings table, i earned 132 SSN points during my working lifetime.
    however, because i also have credits with PERS, a different table is used!
    how is this fair?! i worked TWICE as hard, sometimes working THREE or even FOUR JOBS AT THE SAME TIME, yet when it comes down to claiming what should be rightfully due me from my efforts, i am told that my payment is reduced because i have an additional pension.
    do retirees with union pensions have their ssn payments reduced?
    do retirees with pensions from the company they worked for, long enough to earn one, have their ssn payments reduced?
    does someone who wins the publisher’s clearinghouse $1000-per-week-for-life jackpot have their ssn payments reduced?
    just because i have an additional source of retirement payments, that doesn’t mean i didn’t also earn what anyone else in america did, and should be paid in full.

  • I spent 20 years in the military then went to work for the Ohio department of Corrections and was in a motorcycle accident and had to take a medical retirement with 10 years in the department now that I applied for social security I found out that it would be cut not what I planned on .

  • I think OPERS may be trying to placate us. This is something that takes little effort on their part. It seems like COLA has been getting as much or more attention recently than SS WEP (which probably has a 2% chance of passing). OPERS is directly responsible for the amount of COLA that we receive — let them approve a 3% COLA for all. That would certainly offer some relief to me. They are in control of COLA; they are in control of who invests our money (remove Fisher Investments like other states did). Writing a letter to reps regarding WEP simply diverts our attention away from what benefits OPERS has been reducing and how their investments have been failing. I apologize for writing this, but I do think it is worth thinking about.

  • A contrary opinion.

    The WEP seems to be a fair proration And I am also affected by WEP and still maintain this point of view.

    PERS does the same exact time~prorate the benefit based on years of service and contributions. Even under PERS, the person working 25 years for the State does not get the same pension as that person who works 32 years for the State. We cannot expect SS to be any different.

    Sure, I understand that someone that works 13 years paying SS wants the same benefit as the person who worked for 40 years under just SS. Yes, you are vested with 40 quarters, but not at the same level of benefits as a person with more time in any retirement plan. It does not work that way with SS and it does not work that way for PERS.

    I am thankful for PERS, even with the WEP offset. I do not see the law being passed as the people who administer these programs know the same thing I am stating.

    Sorry folks, it is not what you want to hear. It is fair based on your prorated contribution and that is why it has never been changed to the contrary.

    • Thank you for your opinion. I truly don’t think that folks who worked 13 years under SS expect, or even want, to receive the same amount of SS that someone who worked 40 years under SS gets. When we view our SS statement annually it shows what our SS would be before adjustments for WP or GOP are applied. That amount is all we are asking to receive.
      It would be robbery for my 401K distribution to be reduced because I have a government pension. I made the payments into my 401K every time I got paid. The amount of my distribution is based on what I paid in, nothing more and nothing less. I cannot withdraw money that I did not pay in (and the increase that it earned). The same thing applies for my SS benefit. I paid into SS every time I got paid while working in the private sector. So it seems like robbery to me that the money I paid in & the increase that it earned be withheld from me.
      May I also remind you that there are those who receive SS (in the form of SSI) who never paid into the SS system. I do not begrudge that payment to those who truly deserve and need it. I simply want to receive what is due to me from my years of paying into SS.
      Thank you for listening to my point of view.

  • Thank You Matt Overturf for everything that you do. I worked for 40 years in the private sector and can’t tell you how much this would mean to us for the extra monthly money. Please do whatever you can to help us.
    Thanks again

  • I appreciate that this is being pursued. It was a rude awakening for me when I realized how little I would receive from Social Security after working equally in both systems. I feel punished for choosing a different career path. Not fair!

  • Social Security should not be means tested. if you contributed enough to earn a benefit you should receive it regardless of any other income. Social Security does not reduce the benefit for any other group even if you are a billionaire and they should not. However, until Congress decides to solve the long term funding issues facing this program I doubt issue that relates to people with public pensions will be resolved. They will be hesitant to add more people that will receive a benefit.

  • I have worked two jobs most of my adult life and have paid into Social Security for 40 years. I have gave up on Congress ever passing any WEP or GPO legislation. I’m more concerned that some day they will require that all state employees pay into Social Security.

    • Less new money will be available to support ongoing opers pension benefits if ohio government employees are switched over to social security.

  • WEP will continue no matter what, this was action taken to try to extend SSA. Instead of focusing on WEP first, look at the other benefits that are being given away by SSA such as a spouse who never worked can collect off of their working spouse or en ex-spouse that had 10 years into a marriage can collect in addition to the current spouse. That is 3 incomes given out on one persons income. Until you focus on some of the programs that are being given away within that system you will never be able to make headway on WEP or GPO programs. I remember my mom’s benefits were reduced just because of the year she was born that SSA reduction was call “Notch BABIES”, they came up with a way to reduce benefits based on your birth year. SSA is struggling to stay solvent for years to come and they have done everything from extending the years you have wait until you collect. They try to convince you to work longer to receive a higher income. But if you do the math, you could be collecting well over 10 years at the lower rate and could match that so call 8% increase/year. If you take the money you collected and saved or invested or if you are one with debt paid it off, you would be at a better financial advantage. Eliminating SSA programs that are giving away money to others who have not paid into the system such as those noted first might be the answer to more income to those that have paid into the program should be the first course of action. And I do agree, OPERS is trying to appease or divert you from the COLA and medical benefits issues at hand.

  • We have really been hurt over the years due to WEB which denies benefits in a disproportionate way that we have earned. The intent was to make an allowance for those years worked where social security tax was not paid. A new and fairer formula should be done because the current formula is very severe reduction.

  • Please push for repeal of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision as hard as you are for repeal of WEP. I believe GPO is often confused with WEP and consequently doesn’t get enough attention. Thank you for all you do.

  • I was so happy to hear that they are working on this. I never felt that it was fair that we worked all those years and just get a small portion of it. I did work 29 years but only had 16 credits. I did not know that I was not going to get my Social security until I looked into my retirement. I only worked 19 years in OPERS so it really hurts me. Please keep fighting for us. Thanks.

  • I am 55 years old and started working when I was 16. I changed careers when I was 51 years old and now PERS . I should not have any of MY MONEY that was put into social security taken from me just because I put in what will be 16 years by the time I retire . That is such an unfair and ridiculous law.

  • Married for 18 years, paid child-support, from my part-time earnings, to children from his previous marriage; then he died. Neither of our 2 children received benefits as they had graduated from high school. As a retired OPERS employee I cannot claim deceased husband’s SS because I made more money, in the long run, than he did. Due to the WEP, my choice was his SS (1/2 of my benefits) or my OPERS. His “partial” SS would be a most reassuring asset to what’s left of my years.

  • I agree with the elimination of the Windfall Act! Why should we be penalized for being a public servant. We are not anything different than most of Americans who’ve worked multiple jobs and collect multiple pensions and Social Security. How about military personnel, do they pay penalties for working in the private sector after they retire from the service? Let’s get this change people!

  • I applaud and support your efforts to amend the WEP. However, the Washington Swamp has the whole Soc. Sec. system heading to insolvency and I cannot believe they would allow any change(s) that would pay us more of what we are due (it is OUR money we paid in, after all). In the bigger picture, I regret that more citizens do not exercise their power to vote the do-nothings out of Congress. The partisan politics we have going on in Washington are getting nothing constructive done and if enough disappointed people would actually vote many of them out of office it would be a good start.

  • I agree, if we paid into SS then we should receive full benefit. If this is double dipping, what about those who are receiving OPERS and working under OPERS – isn’t that double dipping? I know they are paying into it again, but to also receive at the same time? Also, why are we taxed on our SS – it was already taxed. DOUBLE DIPPING government.

    • I would like someone to tell us what we can do as members – who can we contact in the government etc

      • You can send a letter of support to the bill sponsors, Kevin Brady, R-Texas, sponsor of the Windfall Elimination Provision: the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act; and Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass, sponsor of the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act.

        You can send your letters to the same address:
        The Honorable __________
        United States House of Representatives
        Washington, D.C. 20515

    • I agree with you. I see this all the time the individual retires today and then return to their same high paying position the next day. They never retired! I totally understand because my husband SS is reduced by 2/3rds but, OPERS is only endorsing the policies. To me, the change has to be with the government I don’t think they are putting any effort in helping this situation, if so, more information would be disseminated about what they are doing besides an endorsement. They really aren’t doing anything but talking.

  • If the ones in the position cannot make and get this right, then please pers make it possible for the pers workers to contirbute to both pers and SS. If this was in place it would make the SS double dipping non exisiting

  • C’mon folks, Don’t hold your breath for this to happen. I have heard this issue bounced around for 20 years and I am sure it will still be here 20 years later! It is grossly unfair but politicians very rarely un-ring a bell!




    • Michele,

      Observers outside of OPERS have said they believe these bills won’t move this year because of the attention to the coronavirus. We will update this issue later in the year. You can contact your U.S. representatives regarding the bills.

      — Ohio PERS

  • Thank you OPERS for publicly supporting HR141 & S521. Why won’t SERS do the same? I totally retired and began receiving my SERS pension in November of 2015 at the age of 69 & 8 months. Social Security began reducing my Social Security retroactively in February of 2008 due to my WEP, my 62nd birthday. In February 2008 my WEP should have been approximately $35.00, not $285.80. This move cost me an additional $129.20 a month in reduced COLA Benefits and credit for working over the age of 66.

  • I agree, something needs to change. I am a widow, faced with retirement, struggled since my husband of 30 years passed away and raising a child in college and paying health insurance on my own. I deserve the social security money he worked so hard for, to supplement my Opers pension. I didn’t have the earning power he did.

  • Please consider endorsing HR 5723 (117th Congress) Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust introduced October 26, 2021, by Congressman John Larson (CT), part of which eliminates WEP, among other great features. I have requested support from my Congressman, and all CEAO members affected by the WEP, or soon to be affected, should reach out.

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