Friday, August 19, 2016

An Update from the Committee to Repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset

Kevin Brady, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee decided to table his bill, HR 711, at their meeting just before the recess because of disagreements among the groups affected by the bill. Some groups are not willing to support it as written and would like to offer amendments to fix what they see as insurmountable problems. Here are two of the amendments that have been offered that are supported by the National Education Association:
  • Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL) amendment that would exempt people without a vested right to a public pension from the new WEP formula, since there has been an interpretation that anyone who has ever worked for a non-SS-participating agency, even for a short time, would become penalized.
  • Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) amendment that would exempt people who work in a Social-Security covered job for 30 or more years from the new WEP formula and maintain their exemption from the offset.

These amendments would improve the bill; however, they would also make it less likely that it will pass because the changes would increase the cost.  There are also disagreements about how much the new formula would actually save those affected.  This sounds like standard Congressional negotiating.  

We must continue to ask our representatives to support the bill, demand that it be heard, and to press for the amendments. We must insist, of course, that total repeal is the only completely fair solution. At the very least, H.R. 711 highlights the fact that the current WEP formula is wrong, and they need to fix it!

Members of Congress are home until September 6th and in need of our votes. After working in D.C. four weeks in September, they will be back in their Districts in October and the first week of November to campaign before the election.

What we can do: Set up a meeting and talk to them. Show up when they have a town hall meeting and state our case. Most people in a public meeting will be on our side, but there are those that think that since the government “gave” us a pension, we shouldn’t be complaining. Of course, we worked for and also paid into our public pension too!
  • Be sure to mention that the Social Security Administration never told us before we retired that we would not be getting what our statement said we would. Congress didn’t require employers to tell new hires that they would be affected by the offsets until 2005 (This problem seems to get the attention of some members on the Ways & Means Committee).
  • Schools are starting, and many districts can’t find enough teachers. One third of the country’s teachers are in states affected by the offsets. New teachers have to sign a paper saying that they understand that they may be affected by the GPO or WEP. Not a very good way to attract new teachers!
  • We were penalized when our government job didn't include earning Social Security, even though we were paying into and getting a pension. Then we were penalized again when we retired: they cut what we had fully earned in other work.  
  • See “Our Case” on the Social Security Fairness website for other ideas, both the PowerPoint, which you can click through and/or share, and the written statements.

Obama pledged that he would sign a total repeal bill if it came to his desk. That, of course, hasn’t happened. Let’s see what we can do to get the current candidates to state their positions on repealing WEP and GPO.  Hillary Clinton signed onto at least one of the repeal bills while she was a senator, and she has talked about providing better retirement compensation for people who have been out of the workplace to raise children and care for others, so she should be amenable to repealing the GPO, at least.  Donald Trump [who is oblivious to this issue and others] has made some conflicting statements about Social Security; however, it won’t hurt him to know about our situation.  Here are the comment boxes from their websites:


  1. Those two amendments are absolutely crucial. Without them, HR 711 would cut the Social Security benefits of 14 MILLION future retires (according to Stephen Goss, Chief Actuary of Social Security), would result in there being 11 times as many losers as winners under the bill, and would cut aggregate Social Security benefits by $3.4 Billion Dollars per year once the new formula is fully implemented. You can read Goss' testimony in full here:

  2. WEP would dissipate as people passed away. So it would be short term. We consider it robbing us of what we earned, because we worked for it if we don't get it. So, do the right thing and pass the Bill to give us our money.