Congress created the GPO in 1977 to help ensure that spousal and widow(er) benefits of those with covered or non-covered lifetime earnings would be roughly equal. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), enacted in 1983, reduces the Social Security benefits of workers who receive pensions from a federal, state, or local government for employment not covered by Social Security.
Advocates argue that these provisions – originally intended to make Social Security benefits fairer – actually penalize public sector employees like teachers, firefighters, police officers, and federal workers.
“In enacting the WEP and GPO, Congress created a completely different set of inequities, slashing Social Security benefits for some even though their payroll contributions might be exactly the same as their fellow Americans whose work history was entirely within the Social Security system,” said NCPSSM President Max Richtman at the Wednesday event.
The WEP and GPO, Richtman said, leaves millions of retirees and their families with little or no Social Security benefits, despite decades of contributions in payroll taxes.
The bill eliminates the government pension offset, which in various instances reduces Social Security benefits for spouses, widows, and widowers who also receive government pensions of their own.
The bill also eliminates the windfall elimination provision, which in some instances reduces Social Security benefits for individuals who also receive a pension or disability benefit from an employer that did not withhold Social Security taxes.
The National WEP/GPO Repeal Task Force is leading a grassroots movement to spur Congress to enact the Social Security Fairness Act. “This is a serious issue that’s gone on way too long,” said Suzie Dixon, President of the California Retired Teachers Association and vice-chair of the task force. “It is time to let teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public sector employees live their senior years in dignity.”
NCPSSM also strongly endorses Rep. John Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act, which would repeal the WEP & GPO in addition to strengthening the program’s finances and boosting retirees’ benefits.