Bipartisan Support Grows for Repeal of WEP
One of the first bills introduced at the beginning of every new session of Congress is legislation to repeal the Social Security Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). In the 116th Congress, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced the Social Security Fairness Act of 2019 (H.R. 141), while Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced identical legislation in the Senate (S. 521). The House bill currently has 218 cosponsors and the Senate bill has 35 cosponsors.
For those unaware, the Social Security Government Pension Offset (GPO) law prevents government retirees who receive a government pension but did not pay into Social Security from collecting both a government annuity based on their own work and Social Security benefits based on their spouse's work record. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is another inequity that disadvantages many federal retirees receiving Social Security benefits and a federal pension which did not require payment into Social Security. It reduces the Social Security benefits federal retirees receive based on the number of years they served in a federal position that did not require their payment of Social Security taxes.
FMA supports full repeal of GPO and WEP, and has endorsed both H.R. 141 and S. 521. However, we recognize that full repeal of these unfair cuts to Social Security benefits would be costly and full repeal is unlikely.
That is why FMA also supports efforts that seek partial repeal, to help mitigate these unfair penalties on civil servants. Specifically, on September 27, Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act (H.R. 4540), a bill that would provide a measure of fairness to those negatively impacted by the WEP. In the summer of 2019, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the ranking member of the committee, introduced similar legislation, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (H.R. 3934). Neal and Brady have worked together on this issue for several years. In the 115th Congress, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
With the bipartisan support for a solution, there is renewed optimism that this issue will finally be addressed. The WEP is “a modified benefit formula that reduces the Social Security benefits of certain retired or disabled workers who are also entitled to pension benefits based on earnings from jobs that were not covered by Social Security and thus not subject to the Social Security payroll tax.” According to the Congressional Research Service, in December of 2018, almost 1.9 million people were affected by the WEP, losing up to $463 per month in benefits.
FMA National Secretary Christine Parker is one of those negatively impacted by the WEP. She, like those 1.9 million other Americans, acknowledges she should not draw on Social Security for all her government time worked, as she did not pay into the system during part of her federal career. However, she should also not be penalized for the years she paid in because she dedicated herself to the government and her fellow citizens for 33 years and was a very proud civil servant.
FMA will continue to advocate on behalf of a full repeal of both WEP and the GPO. At the same time, FMA will push for H.R. 4540 and H.R. 3934 as reasonable, rational attempts to provide much-needed relief to those impacted by the current WEP.
The views reflected in this column are those of FMA and do not necesssarily represent the views of FEDmanager.
Posted in Hear it from FMA