Where We Are

This spring it will be 7 years that the Committee for Social Security Fairness has been working to rid our public servants of the penalties of the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision.

We have a website, ssfairness.org, which is the best source anywhere of accurate and comprehensive information on the Offsets. As we learn more and listen more to the pros and cons of repealing these onerous laws, we have developed stronger arguments for our case.

Our Alerts go out to 3,632 members, and there is a constant stream of new activists joining every day. Nearly 2,000 people like our Facebook page, (Social Security Fairness – Repeal the GPO/WEP), and that rowdy crew is always coming up with new ideas. Special thanks to Linda W.!  We are everywhere: our survey last year had responses from every state, as did our White House petition of a few years ago.

Repealing the offsets is more necessary than ever.  This country needs to get and to keep the best people working for the public good. Because of that, it is really hard to tell a new teacher or a proud new firefighter that his or her hard-earned pension will mean the loss of part or all of the Social Security retirement benefits that they have already earned or may earn in the future. A study last year showed that HALF of California’s working teachers do not know what the offsets will mean to them. Our own survey showed the devastation that the lack of knowledge beforehand has caused retirees. This is cruel as well as unfair.

Goals for 2016

This year we will continue to refine and direct our message. No one is expecting any big changes in Social Security in this election year, but we will work to attach our message to the cries for Social Security expansion and to build support for our cause among groups that should be our natural allies: groups that support seniors and women, worker associations and unions.

A critical part of our work will be to involve the unions and associations that represent workers penalized by GPO and WEP. Can you identify right now your own personal target group? Pick a local or state organization that you will “educate” about the offsets and how unfair they are. In addition, each month, we will choose a national organization that we believe needs to hear from ALL of us. We will share ideas and materials for you to do that. Let us know at ssfairness(@)gmail.com which group you have chosen, if you want us to connect you with another person with a similar project.

The conventional wisdom is to simply tell people how the offsets have affected your life. We want to help you back that up with statistics that will show that you are not alone. We need you to speak up wherever you can!

Our voices are strong! Our cause is just! We will persist!
Thank you for being with us!

38 Comments

  1. My wife is punished by this rule even though she worked 29 years but not all qualifying years. Then she worked 7 government years . So we take the hit. Now my Pension Plan Central States is going to cut us 50% . Congress set the rules and did not allow the pension fund to manage they left it up to Wall Street. So Congress hits us twice.

  2. Please continue your efforts for the repeal of WEP/GPO penalty. I have began my 51 st. year of contributions into a system that unfairly penalizes a person for their choice in being an educator. 50+ years of contributions to a system that DENIES me if EARNED benefits OUTSIDE of my profession. Years of high school jobs in a trucking and roofing employment, 40 years of summer jobs as a supervisor running landscaping crews, 9 years as a WalMart greeter all contributing to the Social Security system, only to lose 2/3 of my benefits because of Windfalls nd Offset Penalties. So that is my thoughts on Social Securiy UnFairness.

  3. I retired 21 years ago and have worked with your suggestions, but nothing has changed for us. When will we get what we deserve? I am running out of time at 78. this has been an ineffective effort as I see it. We must do more, but I now doubt any changes for us will happen.

  4. I retired 21 years ago and have worked with your suggestions, but nothing has changed for us. When will we get what we deserve? I am running out of time at 78.
    This has been an ineffective effort as I see it. We must do more, but I now doubt any changes for us will happen.

  5. I will be ninety in Feb. of 2016. I wrote a book about my experience with Social Security and the offset laws. My group that I have been targeting is AARP. I will never understand how AARP can ignore the plight of their retired members who have been so cruelly cheated of their social security benefits. I guess I no longer believe that justice will prevail. I am sorry to be so negative. I will keep writing letters to help you, however.

  6. Why don’t we inform and ask for support from AARP, NEA, state chapters and the larger audiences? The low numbers that you report have a minuscule chance of creating the changes. Because I have a teacher-centered heart, I respond to upcoming legislature that is beneficial for students, parents, current teachers. Many of those teachers will be in my negative monetary position soon. Can’t we enlist their assistance in creating a more fair retirement?

  7. I am afraid the ,we will persist position is accurate. How to get from we will persist to we will win? Less than 4000 members is not a winning team number.
    You are very correct about getting new members and are hopeful that will get some movement.
    I belong to another organization with enough strength to attack the HILL(Congress)
    and visit every Congress Member in one day. They win,not persist. Persistence is an admirable trait but winning is much better.

  8. I continue to write on a regular basis, our business was a waste when you measure the social security along with taxes we paid. We knew we would get the taxes back in the form of roads, parks, defense, etc. We never knew that we could not draw on our business social security and summer/part-time jobs. We had hear about government workers, but was not prepared for personal income from other work.

  9. As I recall, the WEP was intended to target the politicians who were receiving SS benefits as well as the government’s pension pkgs. I’m just positive there’s a way for our legislators to construct a bill that would exclude ONLY individuals who were elected to office from doing that, thus allowing us – the struggling middle class schlumps who have 40 quarters invested in SS as well as OPERS or other non-SS retirement individuals – to be eligible for both, without any offsets or penalties.

  10. Hello:

    Thank you so much for your support, ssfairness.org. And to Linda W. Linda: Please tell me what you are doing that is helping? I would like to emulate your efforts on a local scale. Personally, I hand out fliers and letters to individuals I meet on the street; I have written to Amy Feldman at California Teachers Association asking her to please print my letters on their website (or at least a facsimile of them). No response whatsoever.

    I have called and emailed the National Education Association with the same request ( to circulate my letters in some form or another) — again no response.

    As to AARP, I REALLY think ALL of us should write an individual letter to AARP telling them that they are a bunch of baloney for not standing behind us in this fight. They so “tout” repeal of the “chained CPI Index,” but they don’t lift a damn finger to help US and OUR cause which carries so much more of a financial burden, particularly because women are the most affected.

    So, I am addressing this to ALL members and to Linda W. Linda: my email address is: roxiepet1234@att.net if you would like to connect with me. I would be so glad to share my literature that I have created if you can distribute and if you think it would help.

    I am still trying to hand this out to individuals I meet — at libraries, at senior citizen centers. I hope sincerely that it is working. I honestly don’t know what else I can do but would like to to support our cause. I have the time, and I would love to help.

    Thanks to all of you who are trying and not just whimpering. Again, I truly believe each and every one of us should be writing to AARP blasting them as I have done. They are not our friends at this point — not at all!!

    Thanks everyone. Have a blessed New Year.

    Sincerely,

    Donna Smith

  11. I would commence with the following:
    1. Investigate which members of the Congress/Senate have multiple income streams (or will) from pensions and social security. Out them.

    2. Find out when school systems in affected states have teacher recruiting. Have present and retired teachers who will be affected by WEP/GOP picket the recruiting offices and hand out information to inform possible future teachers that they may be affected by this law.

    1. Where are you, Wendy, and what can you do to start this process? Can you find someone to help you? Use the “The More you Work, the More You Lose” flyer attached to Alert #75 on the front page of our website.

  12. Widows and widowers who have previous private-sector employment or who had spouses with private sector careers, speak up. Forget the “double-dipping,” we’re getting double-penalized! With personal private sector employment of 18 years and a late spouse with a 25-year private sector career, why does the government think I don’t need the money but they don’t apply the same logic to the uber-wealthy?

    1. I don’t care about the uber-wealthy. We don’t need to create another level of distractors.

      Our spouse earned the benefit – the widow/er deserves it the same way a non-public working spouse would!

  13. I worked for 30 years in mostly factory jobs. I paid into and earned a Social Security benefit of $1055. 00 monthly should I be disabled before retirement age. When I could no longer work the hard labor of factory work I found a job in a public school for behavioral/special needs students. The pay was low but it was all I could get being abt. 50 years old. I worked there 10 years just long enough to earn a small retirement before a medical issue rendered me disabled.
    I filed for my Social Security Disability and to my horror found out that the low paying school job had eliminated my total Social Security Disability benefit due to WEP/GPO. When I am old enough to collect my Social Security Retirement benefits they will be reduced by more than 60% leaving me about $175.00 monthly to live on.
    I would have been better off to have never worked again after I was unable to work factory work. I was not told about WEP/GPO OR HOW it would effect me because I took a public position. I was not given a choice to continue paying into Social Security. The limited information now given out to people just entering the public workforce is misleading at best and purposefully lacking a truthfully explanation of the concequences.

    1. Dear Maxine.
      The way you were treated is a classic example of this unfair system of governance. My congressman and representative have responded to my personal letters written to them with a clear directive that they will never vote for a repeal of this WEP/GPO law and almost threaten me that should it be repealed, Social Security will be bankrupt within a few years of the repeal. I will inform you that I went to the SS office in my area to file for my SS and also for my wife’s part of mine. She was an educator for 22yrs. I saw a man in front of me, a Chinese man with his son, having a disability letter in his hand that I could read. He was there to renew his benefit. He is receiving $5,243.00 per month. Other non citizens also are receiving benefits like this but us American born citizens, that have WORKED, cannot get a benefit of any substance due to the GPO/WEP rule.
      No one will offer this information at any level of employment public or private. I feel the same as you do-deceived by the US system!

    2. Remind your legislators that the repeal of the offsets will amount to less than 2% of what is currently paid out in retirement benefits.

  14. I am attending a small gathering later this month where the president of the mass teachers assoc will be the guest of honor. I plan to tell her of my passionate concerns relative to this issue.

    1. Download the “The More You work, the More You lose flyer” from Alert #75 that is on the front page ofour ssfairness.org website, and see if she is willing to publish it for her union.

  15. Please contact the Los Angeles Unified Teachers Union. I have even talked to a few of the officers and they say they are working on it, but I never see any of them quoted as doing anything!

    1. Can you do that? The really big problem in CA is that, according to a CalSTRS survey last year, half of CA working teachers do not understand how the offsets will affect them. If you could get LA to understand that, it would make a big difference. See if you could find someone in the LA leadership who would even look at our website. They keep wanting to rely on NEA, but NEA would like us to get the grassroots moving on this.

  16. It’s all because of ignorant peope who don’t know the inside scoop.Many public employees don’t even know the fact until they retire.Sad, congress should be stopped too if the don’t overturn this garbage!!

    1. They only allowed those who retired at about the time they passed the WEP to skip the penalties.

  17. I continue to tell new teachers about this horrendous issue…I also advise them to invest in annunities.throught their career.That way if they do work under soc sec an annunity will help fill the gap. I did this after I retired and inherited a large sum of money…the annunity is on my life.

  18. I WORK FOR THE CITY OF CINCINNATI FOR 31 YEARS AND WORK PART TIME AND WHEN I RETIRED I WORK FOR ANOTHER 10 YEARS UNDER SOCIAL SECURITY THINKING I WOULD GET SOME HELP FROM THEM I GOT $88.00 dollars a month NOW I RECEIVE $235.00 A MONTH OUT OF THAT I MUST PAY $109.00 DOLLARS FOR MEDICARE SO WHAT DO I REALY GET IT IS NOT FAIR

  19. yes please repiel the gop and wep just horrible what thees rules do to people especially the elderly i hope to be dead before i’m of age

  20. Why aren’t the house members questioning the chairperson of the house and ways committee about Wep

  21. Why aren’t the members of the house of represenitives question the chairperson of the ways and means committee about WEP.

    1. Kevin Brady, who is now the Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, is a long time opponent of the way the WEP works. He agrees that, if you earn a public pension, it should be used as a factor in deciding the amount that you get in retirement benefits, however, he believes that the current WEP formula is wrong. His bill HR 711, would still have a penalty for earning a public pension in a job where you do not contribute to FICA, but the penalty would be about 50% of what it is now.

    1. Most of us had made efforts individually. The conservative legislators in my district say we are requesting the right to ‘double dip’. (Not true since we paid into SS!) The liberal ones tell me that they support my views. (They put nothing on the line to enact appropriate legislation.)

      We NEED an influential organization such as the National Education Association and local state chapters to openly support AND fight the battle with us. I’m not elderly – just retired – and concerned for my future.

  22. This is to respond to Donna Smith’s comment that everyone should personally write to AARP about repealing the windfall law. Well, I have done this, and the response I received was “They have not taken a side on this issue because everyone is effected differently.” In other words, they don’t give a damn about us. I keep getting mail from them asking me to join and become a member for $16.00 a year. I will never join such an organization that does not care about the elderly and turns a deaf ear to elderly people who are suffering because of this unjust law. I would urge all elderly people to boycott the AARP.

    1. I refuse to join AARP. They got behind Obama care which took 500 million from Medicare so they could then sell their own health insurance supplement to their members.
      I joined AMAC and now I think I will contact them about this issue. We were robbed. We had no choice but to pay into SS and then they refuse to pay you your benefits. Makes me convinced that State and Fed govt has no respect for the hard work we do.

    2. Last year we made an effort to get our members to write to AARP on their website when they were asking for input on issues. They changed their stance on repealing the the offsets from opposing repeal(!!?) to being neutral. This is because there are some people who think that our public pensions can be equated with SS. Our pensions are contributed to at different rates, they are taxed differently in different states, and they are often earned at different times in one’s life. We must keep “educating” AARP!

  23. I worked under S.S. for 22 years, and then went to work for the Postal Service. I retired after 32 years, but because I have a Postal Pension I do not get my full S.S. I served my country in the military for 2 years, only to be treated like this. Where is my American dream? The U.S. Goverment stole it from me, as they did many other people. How cruel they are. I worked for that money,and I want what is mine. Why don’t we all get t-shirts made up saying repeal the wep\gpo and wear them.

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