Alert # 36 What is not being said about public pensions! 1/12
“Public pensions are wrecking our State (City, County, fill in the blank)” “Greedy public servants are ruining our economy!” We hear this over and over. All systems are lumped together. We don’t need to debate that here, but what we do need to do is to make sure that people know that not all retirement systems are the same.
Some pension systems require a higher rate of employee contributions than others, and MANY EMPLOYERS ONLY CONTRIBUTE TO THE PUBLIC PENSION AND DON’T PAY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS FOR THE WORKER! This saves a lot of money for government agencies, and it makes the public pension twice as important for their employees who will either get no Social Security retirement benefits or will have them greatly reduced.
This is an excruciating problem for many older postal workers. The U.S. Postal Service will be facing huge cutbacks and the administration is probably hoping for retirements to ease the blow of layoffs. Many postal workers hired before 1986, however, belong to CSRS and are not eligible for any Social Security or will have their benefits reduced by the GPO/WEP. They need to hang on as long as they can.
Here is a story that came in from an SSF member in Colorado, showing what can happen when public employees are caught by both the offsets and the push to cut all public pensions. Please use the ideas in this Alert as you write letters to the editor, to your legislators and to your friends. And please send us a copy at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was completely blind-sided by the unfair Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).
Since I had worked in another state & career prior to teaching in Colorado, I was unable to build up many years in the Public Employee Retirement Association. But I figured that the combination of Social Security & PERA would be enough. Then I found out, when I retired, that I would lose a huge chunk of both PERA and Social Security. (PERA due to the recent cost-cutting measures at the state level and Social Security as a result of GPO/WEP.)
Both of these hits to my retirement funds occurred after I had already retired when it was too late to do anything about it.
It is a shame that our legislature is able to fund “too big to fail” bankers and other millionaires, but can’t seem to find a way to support those of us who dedicated our lives to public service.
Many members of the public don’t understand this problem, and the media has often misrepresented it!