In the media these days there is a lot of talk about expanding and improving Social Security, but no one is saying anything about getting rid of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Despite the repeal bills currently in Congress, (H.R.973 and S.1651), there is nothing about how badly these offsets affect the FULLY-EARNED benefits of retired public employees.

We hear the voices of politicians, parties, unions, and, especially, the associations that should be on our side—AARP, Social Security Works, National Committee for to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Alliance for Retired Americans, Older Women’s League, and the Association of University Women. But they aren’t saying anything about the GPO and WEP.  These outrageous laws should be removed from the books before anything else is done to improve Social Security retirement benefits!

WE NEED TO EDUCATE THESE GROUPS! Remind them we are out here! They get tons of email. This time, let’s send them some letters that they will physically have to do something with. Below is a list of their addresses. Please MAIL each of them a message. It can be hand-written. Or email from the links below, if envelopes don’t work for you.  They need to have the impact of our numbers.

Here are some statements that you can use in addition to telling your own story:

(Most of this information comes from the latest Congressional Research Report)
GPO—At least 615,000 retirees are affected by the GPO; 74% of those affected have lost ALL their Social Security retirement benefits. 81% of those affected are women. Women affected by the GPO have lower pensions than the men affected and, in addition, they lose more! The GPO is a direct attack against the family.  Parents who stay home and care for children usually lose all their spousal benefits, and, often, they don’t get any survivor benefits, either.
WEP—More than 1.5 million people are affected by the WEP. It harms low-income retirees more than those with larger pensions. Everyone knows that the formula IS WRONG and the premise is wrong also.  You are punished by not earning Social Security in your work as a public servant, and then you are punished again when you retire by losing what you had already earned in other work!

THE COST TO REPEAL BOTH OFFSETS WOULD BE LESS THAN 2% OF WHAT IS PAID OUT TO OTHER RETIREES IN SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS!

AARP
National Policy Council
Association of Retired Americans
601 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20049
member@aarp.org
AARP has a National Policy Council that makes decisions about what legislation to support. They used to be against repeal. We helped them change their position. They are currently neutral about the offsets. They need to know more. They need to know how the offsets affect real retirees.
YOU can be a member of the National Policy Council! Go to aarp.org/npc
and apply by February 28.

Social Security Works
Nancy Altman
Social Security Works
815 16th St NW Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20006
www.socialsecurityworks.org
Social Security Works is an activist group supported by a number of unions. They have not paid attention to our issue. They need to know more about GPO/WEP and what happens to us.

National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare

Max Richtman, President
NCPSSM
10 G Street NE Suite 600
Washington DC 20002
 800.966.1935
www.ncpssm.org
This group has studied the GPO and WEP and has endorsed the current repeal bills. Thank them and let them know how you have been affected.

Alliance for Retired Americans

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director
Alliance for Retired Americans
815 16th St., N.W., 4th floor
Washington, D.C., 20006
retiredamericans.org/contact-us
This is a group of active seniors who have ratified a resolution to support the repeal of the offsets. They need to know how the offsets have affected you. Please encourage them to do more!

Older Women’s League OWL

Margaret Hellie Huyck, President
Older Women’s League
1627 Eye St., N.W. Suite 600
Washington, D.C. 20006

info@owl-national.org
This group is particularly interested in issues affecting older women. They have been understanding, but they need to hear more stories.
American Association of University Women
Patricia Fae Ho, Board Chair
AAUW
1111 Sixteenth St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
202.785.7700   800.326.2289

connect@aauw.org
You can write the Board of Directors from this link:
http://www.aauw.org/who-we-are/leadership-and-staff/board-of-directors/

 

Do you belong to another group that should be supporting out cause? Let us know, so we can send them a bunch of letters.  Also, please let us know what kind of feedback you get from these national associations. Also, tell us if you have had any luck with local groups.  We are at ssfairness @gmail.com.  Facebook: Repeal the GPO/WEP – For Social Security Fairness  Or you can respond on this blog.

   Thank you for sticking with us!

25 Comments

  1. I lost a large portion of my social security because SS deducted my assumed state benefits not taking into account that half my state account was deposited after taxes. I am being taxed twice on my retirement.
    At the age of 60 I withdrew my state account. At the age of 65 I am now getting. $700 a month instead of the $1600 I was getting. I was never informed about
    the WEP when I switched jobs. Instead of what I thought would be a marginally middle class retirement I now live in poverty .
    Thanks for listening.

  2. How about a list of U.S. Senators and Reps who CLAIM to support these bills (so we know who does not) …AND. Senators and Reps with committee membership to potentially vote these bills out of committee.
    So we will know who to pressure……..and who to NOT vote for.

  3. I’ve been stating on the Petition 2 Congress sites for some time now, and keep asking why isn’t this topic on the “60 Minutes” news show. They do very well in deep investigating to both sides of an issue and go back many years. I’m surprised they haven’t done a story on this topic yet. I did send them an email but it’s hard to reach they’re top officials. I believe Scott Pelly or Lesley Stahl would be very good at talking to all groups involved, (both Government Officials and People affected such as me and all the hard workers and spouses affected. They are one of the top news shows and don’t do just shorties. They should speak to all people affected. Then maybe even the unaware affected people would come out and stand up, and Government officials would have to commit themselves to an answer. Maybe they can figure out how this “Secrete Law” got through the loopholes. We need this out there now.

  4. Thank you SSFairness.com for all your efforts. But nothing is going to change — can guarantee it, unless we fight them legally. Begging for our own money WILL NOT WORK. Congress or rather, Social Security, isn’t going to give it up without a fight. It’s not their backs, it’s ours. Listen up: we cannot win in Court on the basis of: (1) discrimination; (2) unconstitutional. Those issues have been fought and we lost them — I have case precedent to show we lost — right here in California, as a matter of fact, where I think most of us are clustered? Perhaps, we can fight them on the basis of: (1) breach of contract for those hired in prior to 1983; or (2) failure to notify SS recipients prior to their 62nd birthday of the WEP effects. (If you fall in this class, you retired or were eligible to collect Social Security at 62 and were never notified by them). Did your public agency ever notify you? Although, on THAT count, we are not fighting public agencies, we are fighting the SSA. I cannot speak for GPO — I am not knowledgeable in this area. There is one final argument that I think can possibly be broached in the area of notification in that: (a) formal notification of the effects of WEP / GPO were never disclosed prior to 2005 (although that may have to be incorporated into argument (2) above. Ric Robson has filed “something” in US District Court purporting to cover all of us — but I honestly doubt he will win unless he possibly broached the issue as noted above (something along those lines). If anyone knows of a class-action lawyer or a good paralegal, please get in contact with me or you can start the class-action lawsuit rolling yourself. (roxiepet1234@att.net).

    Again, “begging” and “pleading” with politicians and, unfortunately, well-meaning groups that have little power in our case, does us NO GOOD.

    There has to be a good, bona fide legal challenge that has not been addressed that does not involve “constitutionality” or “discrimination” b/c it has already been argued on our backs that “Congress has the right to screw us to help the “other” poor who are getting Social Security as the majority of their retirement income.” In other words, “they have the right to even the playing field.”

    What we must argue legally, is “facts” (actuarials on the average public pension) showing that WEP is now up to $428.00 per month in 2016; that persons who also paid into dual systems == both Social Security and a public pension simultaneously “prior to 5 years before retirement” (like GPO which has this same exemption) should also be exempt; that persons who have worked 15 years or more under Social Security should also be exempt; that we have actuarial “figures” to show that anything from $350.00 to $428.00 monthly reductions nationwide hurts most public pensioners — I believe THESE are the legal tools we need.

    I would like each and every one of you like I did to contact the White House via email and express your concerns!!

    For those action-oriented, here is the White House email address: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact.

    Thank you all, but we have to fight in solidarity. Getting a class-action attorney and/or “individually” emailing the White House is proactive.

    I personally, again, do not believe any organizations will help us, even with the best of intentions.

    Thank you. Bonnie and to all of you who keep working so hard. I wish we could be more effective, but I DO agree with Ric that “somehow” legal action is necessary. FInal note: can each of you do some research on the “Cochran Law Firm” get their email address and write to them asking if they are interested in our class-action lawsuit? I haven’t tried that yet, but I will.

  5. My employer, the State of Colorado, didn’t tell me that my Social Security would be negatively influenced by working for them. After paying in to Social Security for more than 30 years I was subjected to the Windfall(?) Elimination Provision (WEP) because I received a state pension. Some of the years I paid in to Social Security were not counted because I didn’t earn Substantial (Social Security’s word, not mine) earnings. Maybe because I was raising children and couldn’t work full time? That was the case for many women in the sixties and seventies and now they aren’t receiving enough Social Security. Then, to add insult to injury, I am ineligible to receive my dead husband’s Social Security Survivor Benefit because of something called the Government Pension Offset (GPO). Again, I was not told about this when I took the job with the State of Colorado.

    This travesty was passed in the Reagan Administration with apparently little thought on the consequences, especially for women retirees. Please rescind this inequitable law.

  6. Why are the candidates not staying their position on this issue? I emailed every one of them and received emails back asking for a donation!

  7. I am committed to continued contact with my representatives! As a retired teacher, whose deceased husband paid into his social security for over 40 years and didn’t get to enjoy his benefits, I feel that all of us should receive the pensions we deserve! I am already upset with the government of Illinois for not having a budget yet, but also that they are one of a few states that allow this to happen!

  8. I wrote letters to all the organizations you listed. I also distributed this action alert, and prior ones, to people I work with.

    Thank you for leading the charge on this issue.

  9. If I can’t get my benefits that I earned then can I at least get my friggin money back…..since this doesn’t effect enough people to make it a political liability for those who should fix it…..the answer is a big fat NOOOO!!!!

  10. I have been active with SS Fairness more or less since it was established.I am a NARFE member since and prior to retirement on Cape Cod MA.I am also active in the position as Cape Cod District Vice President for the MA Federation of Chapters (MFC) I support the activities of the two Chapters that cover Cape Cod.MFC has 16 Chapters and all 50 States have an active NARFE FEDERATION. I retired as a senior Electronics Engineer from the U.S Govt. in Feb 1988 at age 60 with 22 years service.I then continued in Private Industry until 1992 as i was short 4 quarters.(Had 34 but needed 38 for 1927 birth, ended with 54) I was eligible for Social Security at age 62 in Nov.26 1989 but to avoid WEP would need to have been eligible on Jan 1, 1986. I started to receive SS at age 65 on 11/26/92 and found out that the WEP was reducing my earned and paid for SS benefit $200/mo.As I was 88 on 11/26/2015,the WEP has penalized me by over $50,000 in 23 years and does not take into account the increased loss due to annual COLAS. Not one of the 28 Countries nor Canada or Mexico i.e: 30 countries impose this penalty on their retired Public Retirees.(this can be easily verified)Only in the USA do only public retirees get hit with the Reagan Administration WEP or GPO abominations. If I sound annoyed, I and many other Public Retirees are extremely so for being singled out with no private sector retirees impacted. Nor should Any retiree actually be treated this unfairly not to mention the hardship being imposed on a lot of widows and caretakers particularly by the lousy GPO imposed in the 1980’s by a non-caring administration.

  11. I have recently completed an application to sub in a CT school district. Included in the paper work was a statement I had to sign saying I understood the WEP and GPO. I don’ think I have ever seen this before and as I started teaching well before this law passed and was unaware of it until I applied for Social security, I would think it would be illegal. It resulted in not making informed decisions. This is presently costing my husband and I tens of thousands of dollars a year. Seems to me some law firm might take this up as a class action suit for those who were not given the information and therefore the opportunity to make prudent decisions.

  12. I am for repealing the GPO/WEP that reduces the amount of my hard earned social security. I am retired and this is unfair to me and all involved. Please let my member of congress know that I support the elimination of this provision. My zip code is 44406. I am a member of SERS and have been widowed for over 20 years. Please have compassion for all of us hard workers who have been struggling most of our lives to work and raise a family and must still sacrifice to make ends meet as you retire. I thank you for hearing me out on this unfair penalty to our workers and retirees.

  13. Help!!!! I need an attorney who knows WEP/GPO!!!!!I live in Indiana and am being asked to PAY BACK $60,000 IN OVER PAYMENTS….at age 71!!!! I taught in Illinois 1972-1984 at a state university. NOT FAIR…do not want to submit my letter without an ATTORNEY’S ADVICE.

    1. You began work even before the offsets were made into law. Awful! The SSA will give you a payment plan, but you definitely should see a lawyer who knows something of this. (Are there any?) We have been told that the SSA is “understanding” about how they get money back from retirees. Let us know how it goes. Good luck!

  14. Dear Madam or Sir:
    I just received my new Social Security total. I disagree with the totals provided for a number of reasons. I have worked and paid Social Security tax for 23 years of my working life. I paid tax on my earnings in all my civilian jobs. I paid tax on my earnings while serving in the U.S.M.C.R from 6/53 to 8/56. I paid on my earnings as a Tool and Diemaker for City Cutting Die, Victory Optical and another 10 years part time for Graceline Optical. I even paid tax on my U.S.Army earnings in 1957 and 58 for a total of 23 years of paying SS tax.I then worked 28 years for the USPOD and USPS. Working a total of 37 years for the United States Government. Then Congress passes and President Reagan signs the Windfall Elimination Provision. Then I have to retire from the USPS on a disability retirement awarded to me by OPM for on the job injuries. In 1993 I send for and receive the enclosed copy of my SS record over my 1943 to 1987 work life. That chart informs me if I retire at 62 years of age I will receive $340 a month. If I wait till 65 I will receive $420 and at 70 I will receive $535. Being already disabled I retire at 62 and am informed that I fall under the WEP. I disputed that fact then and now because the WEP was created because Fed,State,County and City workers could retire at 55 then work at a civilian job for 10 years and receive MINIMUM Social Security. I did not fall under that because I had 23 years civilian work. My SS payment was reduced to $172 from $340 or a loss of $168 a MONTH.My $172 was reduced to $145 because of the Medicare payment. I also have an adopted son that turned 21 at the time I applied for my SS. We put him on my number because having the mind of a 4 or 5 year old and a 21 year old body he could never work. He received 1/2 of my payment or $86 a month less Medicare to $54. His payment should never have been reduced because he was never a Government employee and should have received 1/2 of my $340. Here it is 20 years later I am receiving only $169 for my monthly Social Security. Thank you Herb for your 37 years of service to your country. Thank you for your 3 years 2 months service in the USMCR during the Korean War. Thank you for your 2 years US Army 51 Then 4 Years US Army reserve and 28 years USPOD and USPS. To thank you for that service we have cut your Social Security payment on both you and your adopted son in half. So far that bit of legislation has stolen more than $65,000 from the 2 of us and that’s not including the bigger COLA that we both would have received on my $340 a month and his $170. My COLA from 2001 to 2008 was wiped out by increases in Medicare and stayed at $151 from 2001 till 2008. So here I am on Social Security for 20 years this year and my payment is $169 a month. If an insurance company did that to their insured, the CEO and others would be fined and even thrown in jail. To further show how unfair that legislation was. My wife retired the next year after working for 11 years then becoming a stay at home mom for our 3 daughters and 2 mentally challenged adopted sons. For her 11 years of payments she received $199 a month.Compare that to my $172 for 23 years of SS tax.So we put my youngest son on her number the next year. That presents a question. We put my youngest adopted son on her number. He is now her survivor because she passed away on 1/19/2012. My question is am I and my other adopted son also able to be her survivors and maybe increasing our payments. What really got my dander was that President Reagan who signed that legislation into law was getting a pension from being President of the Screen Actors Guild. Another from being Governor of California. Another from being President of the United States and finally from SS. Here he was a multi millionaire getting 4 pensions and signing this to reduce mine and a few million others. Congress who created the legislation was no better collecting their law firm pensions. Sometimes 2 or 3. Then from Being a Congress person. Then from SS. Meanwhile voting for legislation to take mine and cut it in half when I had never made more that $27,401 plus a few thousand in O.T. to support a wife 3 natural daughters and 2 adopted sons that are both on SS and SSI. I believe I have been included in the WEP in error because I am disabled and the ADA gives me the right to be treated as non disabled people that receive a full Social Security benefit. When I retired on a disability awarded to me by the Office of Personnel Management in 1987 my pension was to be $1,164 less $200 for a survivor benefit for my wife and children if I died. Less that $200 a month got me $964 a month. Had I gotten my full Social Security of $340 the 2 combined would have gotten me $1304 a month or $14,648 a year. Is that not a wonderful windfall to help support 4 disabled people. It is usually only Federal workers that are affected by the WEP because most Police, Fire fighters and Teachers retire at from half to full pay. I know of one town where 3 retired Police chiefs are collecting $150,000 a year pension each. Why would they fight the WEP because to them Social Security really is a windfall. Had I not been forced to retire early I could have retired normally. Then worked at a part time job for 10 years. That would have made 33 years of paying Social Security tax and I would have avoided the WEP. That is why my inclusion in the WEP is in violation of the American Disability Act. I also now have a 2nd disability because I have been wearing a pacemaker since 2005 and am now on my 2nd installed on 9/17/14.
    Yours Very Truly No reply to this letter yet

    1. Keep sending your story to your Member of Congress and to your Senators. Your WEP story is bad enough, but you will not be able to claim on your deceased wife’s survivor benefits unless her SS is more than 2/3 of your postal pension, since you will be affected by the GPO, also.

  15. I worked over 20 years in the private sector and in addition I have been employed for 18 years in clark county nevada. I have now reached retirement age and now able to collect social security. I have been advised that my social security benefits will be reduced when I collect my pension from Clark County. I paid into social security like everybody else. My tax rate was not reduced. I paid the same tax rate as every other worker. Why am I being penalized and discriminated against. How is this fair? I am only ask that I be treated like everyone else who has work and paid into social security. Why is this discrimination allowed?

  16. For many years I paid my taxes, including Social Security, to the Federal Government. In turn the Federal Government promised to pay me $1600 a month when I retired thru Social Security. I trusted my government and planned my retirement accordingly. When I did eventually retire five years ago because of a disability I discovered without any warning that the government had selected a small group of retirees, disproportionately Alaskans like myself, to single out and reduce their pensions. I walked into the Social Security Office in Fairbanks with my SS form with $1600 a month benefit and walked out with $400 a month. Congress removed $1200 from my written and contractually promised pension even though I paid the full amount they asked me to pay for it for many years. My sister who retired on her Social Security a few months ago received her complete benefit despite her having, as I did, a full pension from her former employer. Absolutely not fair. If this were a private entity and not the government I would be able to sue them in court. When the Sate of Alaska hired me as a Teacher they also promised to pay me a pension which they fully carried out without reducing my benefit. I wanted to retire in Alaska where I spent almost all my adult life but now I can’t afford to.

    Thank you for supporting this bill,

    Robert

    Member:

    Committee for Social Security Fairness working to Repeal the GPO WEP
    The Pension Rights Center
    Retirement USA
    FLORIDA ALLIANCE FOR RETIRED
    NEA-Alaska Retired
    Alaska Retired Educators Association
    AFSCME Retirees

  17. I was a member of the A.F.S.C.M.E. labor union for 24 1/2 years and they definitely favor the repeal of the offsets. They are probably your most powerful ally.

  18. I received the following response to an e-mail to Mark Saulnier:

    March 21, 2016

    Ms. B
    [I have removed my name and address to preserve my privacy.]

    Dear Ms. B.:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (H.R. 711). I appreciate you taking the time to bring this important matter to my attention.

    Please know I share your concerns. As you know, the state of California does not withhold Social Security payroll taxes for its public employees. Although it provides a separate retirement plan for public employees, many retirees have also held jobs in the private sector and have contributed to Social Security. As a result, the income of these and future retirees are reduced by both the GPO and the WEP. Both of these provisions are unfair to the hard working public employees in our communities.

    As you may know, the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 973) would eliminate both of these penalties. I am a sponsor of this bill. Currently, it is pending in the House Ways and Means Committee. Should this bill be considered on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, I will be sure to keep your comments in mind. Further, I appreciate you sharing information about tomorrow’s Ways and Means Committee meeting. I will be sure to either have staff representation or reach out and obtain the materials presented.

    Again, thank you for contacting me. If I may be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

    Sincerely,

    (signed)

    Mark DeSaulnier
    Member of Congress

  19. Do NOT PENALIZE those of us who have worked in the public sector! I taught at an urban university in Chicago for 12.5 years…1972-1983. I continued teaching at a state university in Indiana. I have paid into Social Security for 34 years…and now am penalized with reduced benefits and possibly NO BENEFITS AT ALL. PLEASE SUPPORT THE SOCIAL SECURITY FAIRNESS ACT of 2015..s1651…

  20. As to the meeting Tuesday Night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2pwq5GPu54&feature=youtu.be

    Social Security was created to make sure people had something to help them when they were retired or disabled whether their employment had plan or not. The people paid into Social Security for this benefit.
    As for the Spousal benefit, to cover home makers to raise children, take care of elderly family or whatever reason, was sensible to protect the family. This situation I believe should go on for as long there are people alive in the United States. Which means in plain English, Repeal the GPO.

    As to the WEP
    The exception of Government Employees who did not pay Social Security through their Government Employment, paid into their Federal Plan for retirement. But if they worked multiple jobs and paid into both, they should receive both.

    If Joe next door worked one job all his life, paid his Social Security and managed ok until he retired and received his that’s fine. If someone like me and many others worked for the Civil Service paid into their retirement plan but worked other private sector jobs most of his or her life to make ends meet and paid Social Security, he or she should receive both.

    As for these new calculations to alter the WEP and GPO, it’s nothing more than a slot machine. If someone tried saving for their future by stuffing their mattress with money, is it OK for WEP/GPO to take some of it?

    And in relationship to these altering dates: 2017 and Obama’s insane 2027
    (Maybe 2027 is Obama’s retiring time)
    This matter should be taken care of Now, and even be retroactive to the people that suffered for the last thirty-five years, at least the ones still alive.

    The “WEP/GPO” must be “ (Repealed Now).

  21. How do I suggest additional SSA inequities, or if not here, where to go?

    Disabled after being hit by drunk driver returning home from work my application for disability was turned down six times before the seven application was approved w same data: but in the process all those years of zero income were factored into the basis for my SSD monthly benefit – all those zeros years of income substantially reduced my “averaged” monthly benefit amount.

    Social Security provides a ‘bump’ for each year an eligible recipient defers beginning receipt of retirement benefits: at the time it was ten percent per year for up to three years, or a roughly thirty percent increase (more complicated I know but calculation of 100% compounded at 10%, for three years is harder to present) so I had been living on fixed income of SSDI and saw this deferment as a way to make up for the “0” – zero income years after being disabled before SSA finally granted me SSDI in July 1989. It is nowhere written in the regulations, I have searched them, but somewhere in the bowels of SSA they automatically switch a person receiving SSDI to retirement benefits – you cannot defer receiving your retirement benefits; all other applicants can, blind people can, but if you are disabled but not blind, no you cannot.

    As a result of these two SSA practices my monthly income has not even barely kept up with the real cost of living increases and most months it is a question if a zero balance in my bank account will come before my next SSA retirement benefit is received.

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