We have a new Senate bill, S.521, introduced by Sherrod Brown, which already has 4 co-sponsors: Collins and Murkowski, Baldwin and Leahy. The House of Representatives Social Security Fairness Bill H.R. 141, has 109 co-sponsors, 33 of them Republicans. Its original sponsor, Congressman Rodney Davis from Illinois, is a Republican. This is truly a bipartisan effort! (There are easy links on the homepage of ssfairness.org to check on your legislators. We need 290 co-sponsors to force a vote in the House.)
The WEP and GPO hurt the people who make America work: teachers, police, highway patrol, city planners, fire fighters, custodians, school bus drivers, nurses, clerks, secretaries, librarians and many others. This bill should appeal to any legislator who cares about a well-run society and the people who keep it running.
If your Member of Congress is already signed on to co-sponsor the House bill, keep on reminding them of how you, and so many others like you, are being hurt. Become a frequent caller to their offices. Do the same with your Senator. Union/Association leadership made these bills be introduced early in the session. We need to back them up!
1. Get friends or family members to contact their Member of Congress or Senator to urge them to sign as a co-sponsor of this bill. Encourage them to not just leave a message with someone in the office asking the Congressman to cosign H.R. 141, or the Senator to sign onto S. 521, but to have a short personal statement about how these very unfair laws affect them or someone they love.
2. Again, stress the unfairness of these laws and mention that the repeal of the WEP and GPO is a good example of a truly bipartisan issue that every legislator should support.
3. Polish your story before making these calls. Practice on friends and family. (Watch their Aha! moment when they actually understand what is happening to you.) Use that Aha! moment to encourage your friends and family to contact their Senators and Congressmen.
SOME COMPELLING STATEMENTS TO INCLUDE. Choose the ones that apply to you:
1. You paid into and earned Social Security on private sector jobs you held that are totally separate from your public service employment.
2. It was not made clear to you at the time of starting your public sector job that you would be losing some of the Social Security retirement benefits you paid for and earned from your private sector employment.
3. You earned years of Social Security, but were such a low-paid worker, that many of these earnings cannot be counted to lower your penalty, as it does for others who have worked in the private sector. (You have to have at least 20 years of “substantial earnings,” about 4 times what you need to qualify for basic SS benefits, to begin to reduce your penalty)
4. Remember that if you had worked in any private sector job with a pension plan, you could collect that pension upon retirement AND your Social Security benefit as well.
1. Your spouse paid into Social Security just like every other person in a private sector job. The Social Security benefit formula was set up to take care of spouses also.
2. If you were unemployed for 10 years or more (the time to qualify as a spouse), you can still lose ALL your spousal or survivor benefit, if 2/3 of your pension is more than that benefit.
3. If in your state what is earned during the marriage is community property, you still will have no rights to the Social Security benefits that your spouse earned. Both your spouse and his/her employer paid into Social Security and those benefits should be available to you in retirement and in the event of your spouse’s death. Because of the GPO, they are not.
4. You would be entitled to an amount equal to half of the amount he/she earned, but the GPO eliminates that entirely, if your public pension is more than 2/3 of your spouse’s Social Security benefit. For example, if half of your spouse’s Social Security benefit is $1200 per month and your monthly public pension is $1800, you would receive zero dollars of your spouse’s Social Security benefit. (When telling your story, adjust these numbers for your personal situation.)
5. Remember to write down your story about how these very unfair laws affect you. Then practice on friends or family before calling your Congressman and Senators.
There are lots more stories to tell. Keep refining yours, and keep on saying it to your Senators, representatives and to the office staffs that answer the phones!