Still Fighting for The Social Security Fairness Act

Nancy Olumekor

September 18, 2023

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The Social Security Fairness Act, H.R.82 and S.597 will repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO).

According to the Congressional Research Service report dated Feb. 13, 2023, and entitled Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO):

“The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) are two separate provisions that reduce regular Social Security benefits for workers and their eligible family members if the worker receives (or is entitled to) a pension based on earnings from employment not covered by Social Security.

The WEP applies to most people who receive both a pension from noncovered work (including certain foreign pensions) and Social Security benefits.

Although participation in Social Security is compulsory for most workers, about 6% of all workers in paid employment or self-employment are not covered by Social Security. Noncovered workers include state and local government employees covered by alternative staff-retirement systems; most permanent civilian federal employees hired before January 1, 1984, who are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or other alternative retirement plan; employees covered by the Railroad Retirement system; domestic, election, or farm workers with earnings below certain thresholds; people with low levels of net earnings from self-employment; and certain nonimmigrants. As of December 2022, about 2.0 million people (or about 3% of all Social Security beneficiaries) were affected by the WEP. More than 1.9 million of those affected were retired worker beneficiaries, which was about 4% of the entire retired-worker beneficiary population.

The GPO reduces the Social Security spouse’s or widow(er)’s benefits of most people who also receive a pension based on federal, state, or local government employment not covered by Social Security. In December 2022, 734,601 Social Security beneficiaries, or about 1 % of all beneficiaries, had their benefits reduced by the GPO.”

Over the past 40 years, public service employees, who work “For the People” at the local, state, and federal levels and living in all 50 states, have been penalized by the WEP-GPO.

Now is the time, during this 118th session of Congress, to pass the Social Security Fairness Act. This bipartisan legislation would ensure that public sector workers and their families will receive full Social Security benefits.

As Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) stated, “Public servants from across the country have dedicated their professional careers to the service of their country, yet many face reduced retirement benefits due to the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset,” and regarding the Social Security Fairness Act she continued that, “it would also give current public sector employees the peace of mind to know that they will be able to receive their full Social Security benefits when they reach retirement age.”

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said, “This small fix will help these families have the peace of mind that their Social Security benefits will be there for them when they retire from a life of dedicated service to our communities.”

Almost 300 Representatives in the House and nearly 50 Senators have co-sponsored this legislation. We must work together to convince additional representatives in the House and Senate to repeal the WEP-GPO. On Sept. 13, 2023, bi-partisan legislators held a press conference on Capitol Hill expressing the importance of passing the Social Security Fairness Act. In addition, on the same date, the National WEP-GPO Repeal Taskforce held an event on Capitol Hill in support of the Act. Keep the pressure on, contact Congress at 202-224-3121 or send letters, postcards and emails asking them to vote for the Social Security Fairness Act.

This is an important issue for everyone, “We are union, an injury to one is an injury to all.”

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