As an educator and a constituent, I urge you to co-sponsor and support immediate passage of the bipartisan Social Security Fairness Act (S. 2010/H.R. 1332), which would repeal the unfair Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).
“Some 300,000 individuals lose an average of $3,600 a year due to the GPO - an amount that can make the difference between self-sufficiency and poverty. Impacted people have less money to spend in their local economy and sometimes have to turn to expensive government programs like food stamps to make ends meet. Individuals who worked in other careers are less likely to want to become teachers if doing so will mean a loss of earned Social Security benefits. The GPO and WEP are also causing current educators to leave the profession and students to choose courses of study other than education" (IEA).
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As I have traveled around our state during the past year in my campaign for the U.S. Senate, I have heard from many Illinoisans about the problem of Social Security offsets. They have told me how these offsets, specifically the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO), create a hardship for many retired teachers, government employees and state university and community college employees who receive state pensions.
Surviving spouses who are state employees have told me of their need to work well into their 70s because to retire would mean losing a huge portion of their Social Security benefits -- since their state pension would trigger the GPO. Others have told me that, because they worked in both the private sector and the public sector, Social Security benefits they earned were reduced significantly by the WEP.
I also understand that many people who have private sector positions -- and significant pension benefits as a result of those positions -- receive full Social Security benefits without suffering offsets. This seems discriminatory to me. In fact, it seems all too reflective of the policies of the Bush Administration, whereby the most fortunate receive preferential tax breaks and loopholes and the less fortunate are deprived of the benefits they have earned and deserve.
Therefore, I pledge that, if elected to the U.S. Senate, I will support legislation designed to eliminate these Social Security offsets, which adversely affect retired state and government employees and future retirees, and I will work with my Senate colleagues to introduce such legislation.
We need a government in Washington that rewards hard work and promotes fairness and equal opportunity for all people – not just a favored few. I look forward to carrying on that fight on behalf of all the people of Illinois.