U.S. Reps. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) and Howard Berman (D-CA) announced that they have introduced HR 82, the Social Security Fairness Act. The measure would repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination (WEP) provisions of the Social Security Act. The GPO and WEP effects the Social Security benefits for thousands of teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public servants in 13 states across the nation.
"My colleague Congressman Berman and I are introducing this measure out of common sense. At a time when the nation needs to encourage more professionals to make a second career in teaching and public service, the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision are a senseless and needless deterrent to keeping the best and brightest in our nation from public service," said Rep. McKeon. "These two provisions must be completely repealed so that our nation's most dedicated public servants can receive, in full, the Social Security benefits that they have rightfully earned throughout the course of their careers."
Under current law, retirees in 13 states have their Social Security benefits proportionately reduced if they take up a second career in teaching or other public service. HR 82 would repeal the GPO and WEP provisions of Social Security, thereby allowing retirees seeking a second career to receive their full benefits. Teachers are not the only ones affected under current law. Firefighters and Police Officers in 13 states also receive reduced benefits.
"People who paid into the system in good faith should not be penalized for seeking a second career. Certainly we are at a time when we want to encourage people of talent and experience to contribute to our schools and communities. Forcing such people to lose some part of 15 or 20 years worth of benefits is not only unfair, it is self-destructive," added McKeon.
The states that currently subject to the GPO and WEP are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Nevada, Texas and Washington. The GPO reduces or eliminates Social Security spousal benefits if the worker's spouse has a government pension based on work that was not covered by Social Security, while the WEP similarly impacts workers themselves.
Representatives McKeon and Berman co-authored similar legislation in the 107th, 108th and 109th Congresses. By the end of the last Congress, the bill had over 300 co-sponsors. HR 82 has already garnered 160 cosponsors since it was introduced on January 4.