Brief: House unanimously asks Congress to repeal ‘windfall elimination’

By a vote of 100-0, the Louisiana House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a concurrent resolution asking Congress to repeal the highly unpopular Windfall Elimination Provision that strips Louisiana state retirees of the Social Security benefits they may have earned on other jobs.

HCR7 by Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Pineville, calls on Congress to “take actions necessary to review and eliminate” the WEP and the Government Pension Offset, which deprives state employees whose spouses die from collecting their spouse’s Social Security death benefits, even if the spouse never worked for the state.

“We’ve got a new Congress,” Johnson said in his statement to the House, noting that the Legislature has passed similar resolutions under the previous three presidents, to no avail. “I’m not going to stop,” he said. “It’s wrong!”

Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, told the House that he is a retired Louisiana teacher and that when his wife died two years ago he could not collect her Social Security benefits.

“This needs to stop,” Bagley said. “It needs to be changed now.”

Louisiana is one of only seven states that penalizes its citizens for being state employees in this manner. The others are California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio and Texas. 

Congress enacted the WEP and the GPO in 1983, and Louisiana signed into it in 1986 under Gov. Edwin Edwards. Louisiana educators and civil servants do not pay Social Security taxes toward retirement, but thousands paid into Social Security in other jobs in other states, including the military, and their eventual benefits are eliminated or greatly reduced under an esoteric Social Security Administration formula.