The WEP/GPO is a tax for being a woman educator in Illinois.

Retired female teachers face discrimination two ways (actually more than two).

The WEP/GPO rule that denies teachers in the Teacher Retirement System the Social Security spousal death benefit is a direct assault on women.

In a 2018 study of the top pension earners in TRS, only 18 of the top 100 were women. 

The majority are white, male administrators. 

No surprise there.

Seventy six percent of the state’s public school teachers are women, but male educators out-earn women’s annual salaries.

It is more likely that women teachers take time off for child birth and child rearing which reduces their working years and their credits to TRS.

And many of Illinois’ towns have two school districts that divide the higher paying high school from the K-8 schools with a worse salary schedule.

More men tend to teach at the high school level. Women are likely to be K-8 teachers.

As a result, women TRS members, on average, receive a smaller retirement benefit.

Since most of the states retired teachers are women they are the primary victims of the WEP spousal death penalty as well.

It is quite literally a tax for being an Illinois female educator.

If your spouse receives a Social Security retirement benefit and dies first, as a member of TRS you get nothing according to WEP.

Normally a death benefit goes to the surviving spouse.

Not if you are a teacher or other covered government worker.

Most are women.

3 thoughts on “The WEP/GPO is a tax for being a woman educator in Illinois.

  1. As long as there’s a misperception out there that educators’ pensions are excessive and what is bankrupting the state I doubt there’s going to be much support to eliminate WEP. Wish that folks could see two categories in our retirement pension system–educators vs. administrators. I think that would open a lot of eyes with regard to the disparity especially if it would include administrators’ perks like the cost of their health and life insurance packages after retirement, etc.. Folks just don’t realize how many of the administrators make out like bandits.

    1. The WEP/GPO was a huge contributing factor to my husband beginning to take Social Security at age 62, instead of waiting until full retirement age. The idea that all of his payments into Social Security would only entitle me to a $250 benefit upon his death is something that even bankers, estate lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors have deemed to be illogical. Thankfully, early Social Security was an option and we continue to be glad that he took it!

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