Action Alert #41: Talk to Your Senator
The campaign noise level is rising, and if you have a senator running for re-election, you probably have been hearing a lot from her or him. Have they heard from you? We need to keep on reminding them about the GPO and WEP. A Congressman once said to us that Social Security is poorly understood by our legislators – the GPO and WEP are even more confusing for them! We must tell our stories over and over so they begin to understand how inappropriate these offsets are.
Here is the link to the US Senate main website: http://www.senate.gov/
In the upper right corner is a search box. Find your senators and bookmark the “contact” pages on their websites. We will be writing them regularly.
The list below contains the names of the Senators who have signed onto Senator Kerry’s S.2010 bill to repeal the offsets. If they come from your state, please thank them!
Begich (AK), Boxer (CA), Brown (MA), Brown (OH), Cantwell (WA), Collins (ME), Heller (NV), Inouye (HI), Johnson (SD), Lautenberg (NJ), Leahy (VT), Murkowski (AK), Reed (RI), Sanders (VT), Snowe (ME), Udall (NM), Whitehouse (RI)
For the others who need to be convinced to show their support, there is a letter attached (and also at the bottom of this email) that you can send, or, of course, send them your personal letter. Please contact them by email, a printed letter or even a phone call. Our group as well as CA retired teachers hit Dianne Feinstein last month, and she will hear from us again!
For those of you with the Excel program on your computer, you might like to look at the chart which is attached and see some history behind your particular senators with regard to the GPO and WEP. If any of you have some experience with Excel are interested in making this list more up to date, we would love to have some help with this.
Thank you for your support!
July 6, 2012
United States Senate
I am writing to you about a grave injustice that many public servants have suffered—their earned Social Security retirement benefits are cut or eliminated by the Windfall Elimination Provision and/or the Government Pension Offset. The Social Security Administration attempts to justify these offsets by equating non-FICA contributing work with work that is under the Social Security system, claiming that these offsets are fair.
The Windfall Elimination Provision has been shown to be an erroneous way of making the payout of Social Security retirement benefits equitable. The way benefits are calculated can be better determined by using new computerized data systems rather than using an arbitrary method put in place thirty years ago. One retired early childhood educator gets a CalSTRS pension of only $900 a month from her public school work, but that means her Social Security check from working with the city’s childcare program is cut from $600 to $300. This is a disgrace!
The primary effect of the Government Pension Offset is to discredit stay-at-home mothers who are legally entitled to half their spouse’s earnings, including his contributions to Social Security retirement benefits. Earning as little as half a teacher pension can mean that she is no longer eligible for benefits from the 20 years she may have been a dependent spouse with no earnings.
The GPO has nearly as wide-ranging an effect on widows. If a wife has more than half a teacher pension, she is likely to lose all her husband’s widow benefits, in addition to the spousal benefits. This is just another attack on women!
Both of these offsets are bad policy. They only affect about 2% of Social Security benefits and yet cause tremendous harm to the largely low and middle income retirees they affect. The effort to repeal them must continue until there are major revisions in the way Social Security is organized.
Please download the documents below as you need them to help us in the campaign:
Senator Letter in Word and PDF formats:
Senator Letter Word Doc
Senator Letter PDF
Senator List as XLS spreadsheet
Senator List as PDF