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Bipartisan Coalition of Senators Introduces Bill to Repeal Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset

Begich, Heller, Collins, Warren Work Across Aisle to Stop Unfair Reductions in Social Security

U.S. Senator Mark Begich today introduced The Social Security Fairness Act of 2013 to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset, which unfairly reduces Social Security benefits for thousands of Alaskan retirees.  The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), will ensure that Social Security remains viable and robust for decades.

“Many Americans have been paying into Social Security for their entire careers and it is our job as their representatives to uphold the federal government’s end of the deal,” said Begich.  “There are responsible ways to cut the budget without hurting our seniors. While I agree that we need to make major cuts to reduce the deficit, let’s be clear—Social Security is not the problem.”

“Civil servants play a critical role in our local, state, and federal governments. It’s only right that they receive the retirement benefits they earned. Social Security should not penalize those who dedicate their lives to public service, which is why I am proud to join Senator Begich to advocate for this legislation,” said Senator Dean Heller.  

"The two provisions were intended to equalize Social Security’s treatment of workers.  But we are concerned that they unfairly penalize individuals for holding jobs in public service when the time comes for them to retire,” said Senator Collins.  “The WEP and GPO have enormous financial implications not just for federal employees, but for our teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public employees.  Despite their challenging, difficult, and sometimes dangerous jobs, these invaluable public servants often receive far lower salaries than private sector employees.  It is therefore doubly unfair to penalize them when it comes to their Social Security benefits.”

The bill will repeal provisions that unfairly penalize workers. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)and Government Pension Offset (GPO) formulas currently used to calculate Social Security benefits penalize workers, especially many of Alaska’s public employees, who contributed to Social Security in past jobs but retire under other “non-covered” government pensions.  WEP and GPO were enacted in the 1980s and are still hurting retirees today. In Alaska, 8,000 people are currently penalized by the WEP and more than 2,500 by the GPO.  Nationwide, over 2 million people are being adversely affected. 

Begich has made numerous proposals to strengthen Social Security since coming to the Senate including introducing the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act that would extend the solvency of Social Security for approximately 75 years by requiring higher-income Americans to pay Social Security on their earnings all year long and adjusting the formula for cost-of-living increases to better reflect the needs of our seniors and persons with disabilities. The bill enjoys support from the Alaska chapter of the AARP.

Begich previewed the legislation with key Anchorage organizations last week at a roundtable discussion. 

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Roundtable attendees included American Association for Retired People (AARP), American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and National Education Association – Alaska (NEA-Alaska) who discussed the merits of the proposal during an hour-long discussion at Steller Alternative School. 

 

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Comments, page 1 of 3 1 2 3 Next »
May 9, 2013 05:24 pm
 Posted by  angiej

Thank you for you support. My husband was a firefighter in Alabama for 22years. We had no idea of this law until he filed for social security benefits. He recieves $1085 dollars a month for risking his life ,being away from his family, and dedicating his time for public service.His social security benefits were reduced to $291.Every year our copayments on doctors, hospital,medications go up but not our cost of living wages. He thought enough of me to take a reduction in his retirement so I would have health insurance, unknowing my social security benefit would ne reduced because he wanted to know I would have health care. He I die he will not be,allowed to collect a single dime of my 35 years of employment.. What is right about that... His dedication to his community doesn't even give him the right for social security benefits for burial. I don't know what in the world , whoever wrote this law, was thinking but the people we elected need to read this law before they vote. Put yourself in our shoes.We make this country a better place,firefighters, law enforcement, teachers. What would you do without these American Hero's. Treat them the way they deserve to be treated. It's in your hands now ,do the right thing. If we work until we,are,laid to rest we will continue to pays 100% into social security to receive nothing. Thank you for this opportunity to let me voice my opinion.

May 18, 2013 04:08 pm
 Posted by  FrancesPunsalanWood

Congressmen and Women, Senators,

Please help make Social Security Fairness a reality. Millions of hard working seniors who devoted their working years to improve our country's greatness deserve what they worked for so diligently and faithfully. As a patriotic American you owe your time and effort to help our country proceed in the right direction.

Repeal WEP and GPO NOW!! We deserve equal earned benefits as all other Social Security Retirees. Over 2 million citizens are counting on your help.

Thank you, Frances P Wood, Retired Public School Teacher and
Wife of Retire, US Marine

May 20, 2013 09:31 pm
 Posted by  mjzc

I am hoping that in 2013, your endeavour is successful. This bill has been bought forth so many times in the past several years, but it never gets passed!

I have been disabled for many years, which first came into play when I suffered a brain injury in 1972, as a passenger on a motorcycle. To my dismay, the driver was killed instantly, because a car had run a stop sign.
My husband was a government employee for18 years after 3 years military time. The long story short version is his employer perpetrated an incident which gave him a disability, and then the employer discriminated against him, some of which included giving out negative job references to make sure he could not get employed anywhere else.

But, let me arrive at my destination here. Because he was forced out of his government job, and had put into both CSRS and SSA for years between 1987-1992, following being paid from Social Security for his disability from 1999, he applied for his CSRS benefits. He is now 66 years old.

We, too never knew about the Windfall Elimination Provision Act. Because OPM owed him back from 2009, because that is when he turned 62, Social Security has now sent him a bill for $16,529.00, which they just upheld, after receiving my opposition brief pertaining to this issue.

I am tired of fighting with all of these entities! None of their facts are right, and their arguments make less sense. But upward and onward to the next appeal process. It would help if you could pass this quickly, so he can win this appeal. Thanks!!

Jun 7, 2013 08:53 am
 Posted by  ClassAct

For years I have been waiting for the repeal of the WEP/GPO which is indeed unfair to those who have work and paid into Social Security. I am one of those individuals that worked for the federal government and retired with 22 years of service and I receive a reduced pension because I retired early due to health issues. Prior to working for the government I worked and paid into social security and I am currently working part time in the private sector and still paying into the social security system. I will be 66 next year and would like to draw on my husbands record which would give me a little more money than drawing from my own account. However, due to the GPO that income will be reduced by two thirds of my government pension which means I would get ZERO. Also, If drew social security from my own account then the WEP would apply, meaning my benefit would be reduced by $396 of the $529 that I earned. The end result is I would receive $133. I have worked since my teenage years and I have been married for over 45 years and this seems so unfair. I have friends that are not affected by this with similiar income and they can't believe this is happening to me. Please fix this problem for our senior citizens. Keep me posted !!

Jun 10, 2013 08:43 am
 Posted by  Elena

The WEP also effects those who worked overseas and in the US in the same way. I contributed social security to the Italian government while I worked for an Italian firm, and because of this my US social security was reduced by 60%. I also have a total of 30 years substantial earnings which are effectively social security, but part is paid overseas to Italy so it's not calculated. This law is very unfair to a lot of workers who have paid into the social security system, and should be eliminated in all of the states.

Jun 10, 2013 04:55 pm
 Posted by  JIMW

I HAVE WORKED IN THE U.S. AND PAID SOCIAL SECURITY FOR 30 YEARS. BUT BECAUSE I ALSO RECIEVE A U.K. PENSION. MY US SOCIAL SECURITY WAS REDUCED BY ABOUT 50%. THIS IS UNFAIR AS I PAID INTO THE U.K. SYSTEM BEFORE I EVEN LIVED IN THE U.S.I AM BEING PENALIZED BECAUSE MY WORKING CAREER OF 51 YEARS WAS SPLIT BETWEEN TWO COUNTRIES.THE REPEAL OF W E P SHOULD BE ADDED TO THE IMIGRATION BILL AS IT EFFECTS THOUSANDS OF IMIGRANTS TO HIS COUNTRY AS WELL AS MANY OTHER THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS

Jun 11, 2013 08:12 am
 Posted by  Marion

I continued working after becoming 65 because I could not afford to live with just my social security benefit. Now that I have put in fourteen years with the school district in order to make ends meet, I still can't retire because of the WEP. I am now 80 years old, female,working full time and still waiting for the repeal. I now receive $868 from social security and, if I were to retire, I would get approximately $1100 from PERS and my social security would be reduced about $355. I would hardly call that a windfall. Come on people, get with it!

Jul 21, 2013 06:56 am
 Posted by  Elena

Is there no follow-up on this? Is it the same waste of time they've been doing for the past few years, just trying to look good but not passing the repeal?

Jul 29, 2013 10:11 am
 Posted by  061446

I was a county employee in Ravenna, Ohio. I am now collecting both my PERS and a small amount from Social Security. I would like to help in anyway I can in repealing the WEP act. It is unfair to target a group of persons who have worked their whole lives for a retirement benefit.

Aug 3, 2013 11:30 am
 Posted by  Gilmore 45

How can those of us who are affected by these two Provisions determine the progress of the Bills that have been introduced? In agreement with Elena, it does seem as if there is a show of support and concern every few years but the Bills never make it out of committee. Is there any way we can track the progress AND see who was actually active in trying to bring the Bill to the forefront? I believe we have all contacted Senators etc but is there anything else we can do to help either with the repeal or adjustment to this Bill?

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