What Is The Relationship Between WEP And GPO?

Aug 16 2019 - 4:51pm

My wife has just been notified her Canada pension based upon earnings will reduce her spousal social security by 2/3 of her CP

I have read the SS OM that states Foreign pensions are not subject to GPO but in have also read SS documents that it is subject to reduction because of WEP.

Can you explain the relationship between WEP and GPO.

Should we file an appeal?


The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) only affects benefits payable based on a person's own work history, specifically Social Security retirement and disability benefits. The Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision only affects auxiliary or survivor benefits, such as spousal or widow's benefits.

If your wife is receiving only Social Security spousal benefits, then her benefits can only be affected by GPO and not WEP. And, for a GPO offset to apply to her spousal benefits she would have to be receiving a government pension based on her own work for a U.S. governmental agency (e.g. federal, state, local). Foreign pensions, including a pension from the Canadian Social Security system, would not count as a government pension for purposes of GPO, nor would it cause any offset of your wife's spousal benefits (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0202608400).

However, if your wife is receiving U.S. Social Security retirement or disability benefits based on her own work record, then a Canadian pension based on her work in that country could cause her U.S. benefits to be reduced due to WEP.

If Social Security has actually notified your wife in writing that her spousal benefits are being reduced due to GPO, or if they have taken action to reduce her spousal benefits then it certainly sounds like she should file a formal appeal (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10041.pdf).

Best, Jerry