If the 2022 mid-term elections are as energized as some experts predict, it could produce a Congress that might repeal or modify two 1980s laws — WEP and GPO — that monthly take a big bite out of the retirement benefits of millions of former feds, teachers, cops and other ex-public employees.
The key words, as is often the case, are “if” and might!”
At least that’s the hope of groups representing public service employees who have been working against WEP and GOP — the so-called Evil Twins of Social Security — hope. And have been seeking for years. Now, some think/hope/pray that time is about to come!
WEP stands for Windfall Elimination Provision. GPO stands for Government Pension Offset. They were passed in the 1980s aimed at public service employees or spouses. At the time many in Congress felt the workers (whose public service jobs were outside Social Security) were gaming the system by getting the so-called “welfare tilt” for people in low-paying or short-term jobs covered by Social Security.
So have the political stars aligned to the point where this is the year to eliminate or amend two laws that eat into (or up) the Social Security benefits of nearly two million current and former feds an spouses?
WEP reduces the Social Security benefits of local, state and federal retirees who worked or retired under the old (1980s) Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) plan. That is about 1.8 million people. Angry people all old enough to vote!
Deadly dull stuff if you are not impacted. An absolute lifetime financial nightmare if you are in the bullseye: Ask your grandfather (a retired cop) or mother (a former air traffic controller).
Offset was designed to prevent the spouses of government retirees from collecting both a full survivor benefit from a federal spouse. NARFE, which represents active and retired feds, says that two-thirds of the government annuity offsets ”whatever Social Security benefits would be payable to the retired government worker as a spouse (wife, husband, widow, widower).” For example NARFE says, a spouse who will receive a civil service annuity of $900 a month based on his/her earnings who applies for a Social Security benefit of $500 per month would have two-thirds of its offset. As in lost. According to NARFE offset applies to 716,000 people and that 8 out of 10 are low-income women. Again, an angry group of voting age.
So your options are…
Run for Congress: The House seat in your congressional district is up for grabs next year while 30-some of the 100 Senators face reelection. Being a member of Congress definitely has its pros. Once in, there is a 90% chance you will stay till you choose to leave. Or drop. Incumbents have a good track record or staying on. And on. And on. In addition to having the chance to help save the nation and the world, the politicians are almost guaranteed millionaire status (half already are), not to mention prestige, Interested in job-for-life that almost guarantees millionaire status , a killer 401k plan and health coverage and a retirement plan second to none? While it’s a tempting option, the fact that there are only 500 some openings is a definite turnover for the average citizen. Or, if that isn’t practical…
If want to get things done (or undone in the case of GPO and WEP), get the attention of the folks running for the House in your district or the Senate in your state. Because of the closely split House and Senate both sides should be eager to please in next years election. And there are a huge number of victims of WEP and GPO in every state and congressional district. Enough, in some cases, to turn the tide in a close election in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and in many congressional districts. If all politics is indeed local, the number of people crushed by the WEP and GPO laws is impressive. Maybe enough to turn the tide in a close election And maybe consider joining, as in paying dues, to a group that advocates changes in WEP and GPO by lobby in Congress.
So what kind of impacted voter numbers are we talking about? Check out the numbers from this NARFE Fact Sheet to members. Then double the numbers to take into account spouses and survivors. Bottom line: Lots of votes, if they can be channeled.
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