This week, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) endorsed new legislation that would make the Social Security program more equitable for public employees.
TSCL Endorses New Social Security Legislation
This week, TSCL announced its support for new legislation from Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) called the Social Security Fairness Act (S. 915). The bill was introduced with the bipartisan support of five original cosponsors: Senators Claire McCaskill (MO), Dean Heller (NV), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Susan Collins (ME).
If signed into law, the Social Security Fairness Act would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) – two provisions of the Social Security Act that cut the earned benefits of millions of teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public servants each year. Because these individuals receive pensions from their state or local governments, their monthly Social Security checks are arbitrarily reduced, often by one-half or more.
For example, one Maine resident worked in the private sector, paying into Social Security for fifteen years before she returned to the teaching profession. Her earned Social Security benefits would have totaled $700 a month. However, due to the WEP, she receives only $120 each month from the program. She is also unable to collect Social Security spousal benefits due to the GPO, even though her spouse paid into the system throughout his entire career. In retirement, she must rely almost entirely upon her teaching pension, which is modest since she spent only a decade in the profession. She told the National Education Association, "If I had known the severe financial penalty I was to pay for returning to teaching, I don’t think I would have done it."
Millions of other public servants find themselves in similar situations, often too late to do much about it. TSCL believes the Social Security Fairness Act would go a long way in reconciling this inequity, and we enthusiastically support the bill. In a letter to Senator Brown, Art Cooper – Chairman of TSCL’s Board of Trustees – wrote: “According to a recent study completed by TSCL, Social Security beneficiaries have lost over 20 percent of their purchasing power since 2000. Those who are subjected to the WEP and the GPO have undoubtedly fallen even further behind. It is more important than ever for Congress to address the inequities that have been created by the WEP and the GPO, and TSCL believes the Social Security Fairness Act is a fair and responsible solution.”