Reform the Social Security Act to eliminate WEP and GPO

Resolution

Whereas, Social Security was established in 1935, during the Great Depression, to provide for America’s retirement security and to provide for those in need, for survivors of deceased workers and disabled workers and their families; and

Whereas, in some 15 states in the United States including California, large parts of their public sector employees are not covered by Social Security; and

Whereas, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) of the Social Security law mandate significant reductions in Social Security benefits for participants and surviving spouses in public retirement systems whose employment is not covered by Social Security; and

Whereas, more than 1 million teachers, school support personnel, police officers, firefighters and other public employees have seen their Social Security benefits reduced or eliminated because they receive pensions for non-Social Security-covered employment, with more than 75,000 more public employee retirees annually added to this number; and

Whereas, cutting earned Social Security benefits discourages qualified people from becoming the teachers and public servants we need; the offsets also rob communities of the higher income many seniors could contribute; and

Whereas, in December 2020, the Social Security Administration reported that 716,662 people were affected by the GPO, equal to about 1% of all beneficiaries, and 71% of these beneficiaries had their benefits fully offset — that is, they were eliminated for over 500,000 people — while for 29% there was a partial loss of spousal or widow(er)’s benefits; and

Whereas, in December 2020, the SSA reported that about 1.9 million people were affected by the WEP, some 3% of all Social Security beneficiaries, and though in the government’s view, the maximum reduction is 50% of what is called the non-covered pension, these people are being deprived of money that they had rightly earned, since they qualified for Social Security benefits through covered employment, and the maximum WEP reduction of $463 (in 2019) comes to over $5,000 per year; and

Whereas, the WEP (1983) and the GPO (1977) have been proposed for elimination in every congressional session since at least 1995, thus far unsuccessfully, but former Vice President Biden, in the Joe Biden Plan for Older Americans, acknowledged that “current rules penalize teachers and other public sector workers who either switch jobs or who have earned retirement benefits from various sources,” and in order to “eliminate penalties for teachers and other public sector workers,” his plan “will also get rid of the benefit cuts for workers and surviving beneficiaries who happen to be covered by both Social Security and another pension” since he believes that “these workers deserve the benefits they earned;” and

Whereas, the Social Security Fairness Act of 2019, H.R. 141, was a bipartisan bill introduced by Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Illinois), who is seeking to eliminate the WEP and the GPO, and the bill he introduced, although it gathered 264 cosponsors during the last session of Congress, did not get out of committee or to the floor; and

Whereas, the Social Security Fairness Act of 2021, H.R. 82, introduced once again by Congressman Rodney Davis, who is seeking to expand the number of cosponsors in this Congress and finally accomplish the elimination of the WEP and the GPO, especially in light of the support for a comparable goal expressed by now-President Biden; and

Whereas, the organization, Social Security Fairness, whose goal is to repeal the GPO and WEP, which penalizes one-third of all educators and one-fifth of all public employees, has been a dedicated supporter and has identified the following allies from California for its campaign (organizations from other states can be found on the SSF website), including the:

  • CFT
  • California Teachers Association
  • California Retired Teachers Association (CalRTA)
  • CTA/NEA Retired
  •  San Jose Retired Employees Association
  • United Teachers of Los Angeles (and UTLA-Retired)
  • California Alliance for Retired Americans

Among the 52 current sponsors are the following ten representatives from California, all Democrats:

  • Pete Aguilar
  • Julia Brownley
  • Anna Eshoo
  • John Garamendi
  • Josh Harder
  • Ro Khanna
  • Alan Lowenthal
  • Grace Napolitano
  • Paul Ruiz
  • Mark Takano

Therefore, be it resolved, that the CFT encourage the Biden administration to follow up on its intentions to preserve and strengthen Social Security, ensuring that it, along with its Congressional allies, put a plan in place to adequately fund the Social Security Trust Fund; and  

Be it finally resolved, that the CFT support H.R. 82, advocate for further support from other members of the California congressional delegation, and thereby continue to work to abolish the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset of the Social Security Act in order to once again achieve fair treatment for educators, first responders, and other public employees so that they can use the funds they have earned and planned for in order to enjoy the type of carefree and peaceful retirement that they deserve.