Action Alert #68 – A Partial Repeal of the WEP? (+Survey link)

More than 600 members from 46 states have taken the survey! Thank you!! Please add to our impact if you haven’t yet taken it. If you are not sure of numbers, you can skip those questions. Here is the link again:

Link to GPO & WEP Survey

In the survey you we ask if you would consider supporting a partial repeal bill for either of the offsets.  There is currently a new partial repeal bill in the House of Representatives as well as a full repeal bill.  Where do you stand?

For many years there have been bills to repeal these unfair penalties in Congress, but despite the number of co-signers on the bills, they have never been moved out of committee.  Diane Feinstein has introduced many of these bills in the Senate; however, during the last session she declined to do so, and she told us clearly that full repeal isn’t working and asked us for other suggestions.  Is there another way to satisfy those of us who have lost so much?  Read on….

In this new Congressional session we already have two choices:

  1. A total repeal bill (GPO and WEP) has been introduced in the House—HR 973—by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA). A full-repeal bill will be coming in the Senate soon, also. The National Education Association supports this bill. The NEA position is that there must be full repeal of both offsets, however, NEA commends incremental efforts to make progress in this direction.
  1. Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has introduced a PARTIAL repeal bill for the WEP only, H.R. 711, which is unique in that the offset reductions are fully paid for by the reforms incorporated in the legislation. The Social Security actuary has calculated that the new formula, to become effective on January 1, 2017, provides enough revenue to reduce the impact of the offset for new retirees by 50%.  In addition, enhanced enforcement of the current law, possible because SSA will have 30 years of income history at the end of 2016 (due to Medicare contribution data), will fund a reduced offset for current retirees of approximately 30%.  Since the sponsors are committed to a revenue neutral bill, the amount of the adjustments is being driven by available funding. Since Brady and his co-sponsor Richard Neal (D-MA) are senior members of the House Ways & Means Committee, there is hope this bill may move out of committee.  Several state retiree organizations support this bill.

Persons affected seem to be split on this new bill, HR 711:

Those against it are saying: The WEP is wrong, and we should not be subject to it at all. Partial repeal is not enough.  Repeal should be part of a larger re-design of the Social Security system.  The WEP and the GPO should be handled together.

Those supporting the bill say:  After 30 years no repeal bills have ever passed.  This “revenue neutral” bill has a chance of getting through Congress.  It is based on the retiree’s whole life earnings and was designed to approximate the kind of SS retiree benefits that people with whole career SS earnings would get and is, therefore, a more “fair” offset than the current WEP formula.  If we take care of the WEP first, then we can put all our forces against the GPO.

The Committee for Social Security Fairness continues fighting for repeal!

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  1. Trust me on this one. The partial repeal isn’t about WEP/GPO but about cutting benefits for ALL SS recipients. It should be totally rejected.

  2. This bill should be supported by all. It is unconstitutional for 15 states to have this off set in benefits. I’m looking for a leader to defend teachers, fireman, police officers and govt workers. This is a huge voting bloc and must be focused on by our leaders. Be fair to these hardworking people is all we ask.

  3. Could someone please clarify something for me re GPO/WEP. I thought this was a federal law. How do the states allowing/disallowing the GPO/WEP fit in. If 15 states are penalizing their residents how can they get away w/ it?

    Thank you.

    1. They are federal offsets affecting Social Security payments. States cannot be required to pay into Social Security because FICA is a tax, and the federal government cannot levy taxes on state and local governments because of the US Constitution. Over the past 80 years since the Social Security Act of 1935 became law, most states and local government agencies have opted into the system. They just can’t be required to participate.

      WEP/GPO offsets apply only to those people who worked in states or local governments that didn’t pay into the Social Security system.

    2. NOT TRUE. I worked 16 years paying into SS and 28 for DOD. I am cheated out of over &1500 a month. The law allows taking 50%.

      I am really angry because old timer Republicans are not supporting changing this law. A repeal dies every year for the past 17. Repeal the GPO and WEP laws stealing money that we earned!!!!
      The Government Pension Offset is a Social Security provision that penalizes individuals who apply for Social Security spousal or survivor benefits, if they themselves worked for a state or local government in non-SS-covered employment and are entitled to a government pension from that employment. Once they receive that benefit, their earned Social Security spousal or survivor benefits will be reduced by two-thirds of their non-SS-covered pension.
      The WEP penalizes those who those who have had two jobs: One job which entitles them to a Social Security retirement or disability benefit from work which paid the required SS taxes and a second job which did not pay Social Security taxes, but instead entitled them to a pension from a separate pension system. The Windfall Elimination Provision affects individuals who apply for their own (not spousal) Social Security benefits. If you do not have 30 years of “substantial income” in Social Security covered work, a complex formula will significantly reduce your benefit. The reduction may be no more than one-half of the government pension to which the person is entitled in the initial month of entitlement to the pension.

      Income is stolen from retired workers to give to those who have NEVER worked in their entire lives

    3. i retired from the post offic 2 years ago…my husband who just died paid into S.S. All his life…I WOULD have been entitled also to over 1500 a month…now..nothing…it’s discussing…I don’t know now if I can make ends meet….not fair….tell me this…how is it that if he had 3 wives and was married at least 10 years to all 3…then all 3 wives can receive over 1500 a month…but be nothing…what’s wrong with this picture ?? So not fair….what can be done to change it ?

  4. Fairness would be total repeal, but 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

  5. Any legislative action taken on a Social Security Fairness Act that does not totally remove the current GPO/WEP reductions does not address the sinful unfairness of decreasing a person’s earned years of benefits that are earned by paying into the system. If I worked for 15 years and paid into the system for 15 years then my benefit should be based on that. To have a current GPO/WEP provision that cuts that benefit by up to 60% simply because the person worked for the federal, state, or local government that did not pay into the system is criminally unfair. My benefit should be calculated based only by the dollar amount and time that I paid into the system and it should not be reduced for any reason.

    Total repeal of GPO/WEP = Social Security Fairness

  6. As for HR 973 (A total repeal bill, GPO and WEP ) and HR 711 (a PARTIAL repeal bill for the WEP only),
    do they include to apply for people who paid in foreign countries?
    Thank you,

  7. What good will this do? I’m a widow. My husband left no retirement for me when he died at 54. He paid into SS all his working life. Because I was a teacher in CA I’m denied what he put into SS! But, I’ve read there are German war criminals who lived and worked in the USA, were deported but the USA still pays them the SS they earned here.
    All our lawmakers who pretend to care about schools and want the best teachers are just trying for votes. If they really cared about teachers denial of SS for teachers who have earned SS or whose deceased husband had earned SS never would have happened.
    A Widow, Marilyn Sampair

    1. Marilyn,
      Well said. Just include clerical worker, fireman, policeman, etc. as this punitive and unfair law is currently harming many people and that is unforgiveable. I’m still waiting for barack Obama to fulfill his promise to repeal this horrid and unfair law. People voted him in based on his integrity and compassion and to make a change…?????????

    2. My husband just passed away and he worked hard for his money all these years and I worked civil service for 34 years and I get none of his social security and they are keeping $1700 a month of his hard earned money, These people that do not work have it better than the ones of us that have worked all our lives. It is a unfair to us that we have worked hard and proud to work for the government and than be treated like this. Makes you wish you had never worked for the government at all.

  8. My husband paid into Social Security for 46 years and when he died I couldn’t qualify for widow’s benefits because I have a State pension. Where is the fairness and justice in this. I feel as thought I’ve been robbed by my own government. In addition my own social security has been cut by 2/3rds!!! What next–the street

  9. I paid into Social Security until I was 39. At that time, I was able to return to college and finish my education. I started teaching in 1983 at age 43. When I retired from teaching at age 61, I waited until I was 63 to apply for Social Security. At that time, I was informed that my SS would be reduced by two-thirds because I didn’t pay into SS during my teaching years. I was fuming, and still don’t understand the logic of calling it “windfall.” How absurd.

  10. My husband and I were married for 40 years. He passed away at 73 years of age 2 years ago after paying into Social Security his entire working life, 58 years. I am a retired police officer. I have been denied all of his Social Security Benefits. I get nothing. He would turn in his grave if he knew that. Robbery for sure.

  11. I am getting ready to start my 10th year of teaching, all of it in Illinois. I was 40 yrs. old when I began teaching. Before becoming a teacher I worked in the private sector for 20+ years. All that time I paid into Social Security. I had NO IDEA that by teaching in Illinois I was forfeiting my Social Security benefits and those of my spouses, should he die before me. All because I pay into a pension that I can’t possibly reap full benefits from. I would have to teach for 35 years to earn full pension benefits which means teaching until I’m 75! I am sick about this!! I am urging law makers to do what’s right. I want a totally repeal of GPO and WEP, but if we need to start with only a partial repeal to work towards the total repel, then I support HR711.

  12. The WEP and the GPO are wrecking balls that, over time, will demolish your rightful Social Security benefits that you already paid for! Before teaching, I worked in industry and paid into Social Security for 16 years. Then, teaching part-time at three schools became my primary income for the past 15 years, since 2000, in California. Since employers were not even required to provide a WEP notification to new employees until 2005, I never got one when I was hired. I never once heard it mentioned at a staff meeting at school, either. It was only last fall of 2014 when I took on a temporary teaching assignment at yet another school and had to go through an application process as a new employee that I discovered the WEP affected me. Even the notification I signed did not explain any details – I had to visit a Social Security office to learn the shocking news that I have been like a hamster on a wheel for the past 15 years, that most of what I have accomplished toward retirement during those 15 years wrecks my previous efforts toward retirement in Social Security. The WEP notification is inadequate for the average person to understand just how damaging, even inhumane, the consequences of WEP can be. All teachers and other public service employees affected by the WEP should be WARNED, in detail, beyond a generic notification, and you can bet then the pool of available teachers who would be willing to take a job forcing them to invest in a so-called “pension” (i.e., a wrecking ball aimed at your Social Security) would diminish to almost no one! From the point of view of Social Security I would be better off if I had not worked at all for the past 15 years! Why should hard working teachers who contribute so much to society be left desperate in their retirement years?

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