Late last month, the Social Security Fairness Act (HR 82) achieved a new milestone in the House of Representatives: 294 co-sponsors. Per house rulesbills with more than 290 co-sponsors are automatically placed on the consensus schedule, ensuring a floor vote after the chamber suspends.
Passing HR 82 would eliminate two provisions of the Social Security Act of 1935 to benefit more than 2 million pensioners. This bill repeals the provision relating to the elimination of windfall profits (WEP), which in some cases reduces Social Security benefits for people receiving a pension or disability benefit from an employer who has not withheld tax from their wages. In particular, the WEP applies to local, state, and federal retirees who began government employment before 1983 and are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Employees who fall under the CSRS do not contribute to social security and are therefore not eligible to receive social security benefits when they retire.
The National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) reports that WEP can result in a monthly reduction of $512 in benefits compared to their non-CSRS colleagues.
HR 82 also ends government pension compensation (GPOs). Passed in 1977, the GPO prevents a surviving spouse from receiving both a government pension based on their own work in employment not covered by Social Security and Social Security benefits based on their spouse’s work history. For example, a spouse who receives a public service pension of $900 per month based on their own earnings also applies for a Social Security widower’s benefit of $500. Since two-thirds of their pension offsets the Social Security spousal benefit, they would not receive the additional pension typically awarded to the spouse of a former government employee.
NARFE has been a company Support of the legislation, citing its benefits for federal retirees burdened by these provisions.
“These unfair penalties dramatically reduce Social Security benefits for more than 2 million recipients, significantly affecting retirees living on fixed incomes,” declared NARFE National President, Ken Thomas. “NARFE has pushed for years to repeal unfair WEP and GPO sanctions. Today, with the support of 294 legislators, we are closer than ever to righting that wrong.
Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced the bill in October 2021 and it garnered immediate bipartisan support.
“The Social Security Equity Act ensures that public servants like police officers who take on second jobs or change careers after years of service will not face a possible 40% reduction in their Social Security benefits” , Rep. Davis said. said. “By repealing these outdated provisions that unfairly penalize Illinois public servants, we can bring certainty to retirees while helping to recruit the next generation of public servants.”
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) pushed earlier this month for a House vote joined by Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA).
“The Social Security Equity Act recognizes the enormous sacrifices that come with serving our communities, our states, and our country. Right now, there is strong bipartisan momentum to provide long-awaited peace of mind to US public servants by eliminating WEP and GPO. We have to do it,” Rep. Spanberger said. declared. “As a representative of many current and retired federal employees, law enforcement officers, and educators, I am committed to advancing our legislation and finally fixing this problem.”
“Nobody comes into public service to make a lot of money. They do it to make a big difference,” Rep. Graves said. said. “We have rallied support for years to break this impasse and get this overdue legislation enacted. It’s time to get it right for the countless teachers, police officers, firefighters, emergency responders and all local and state officials who are being wrongfully penalized under current law.
If passed, the changes to the provisions will apply to benefits payable after December 2021.