After decades of nibbling on, or devouring entirely, the Social Security benefits of public employees and their survivors, Congress may be on the way to changing two laws that offset or eliminate benefits to public employees and their survivors.
One of the targets is the Social Security “windfall elimination provision.” The other is the Government Pension Offset. Windfall was designed to prevent feds and other public employees (whose jobs were not covered by Social Security) from collecting full benefits from another, short-time job under Social Security. The Offset law was designed to prevent ‘overpayments’ to survivors of federal, state and local employees. The two impact benefits of about 1.8 million retirees, 12,500 disabled workers and almost 100,000 spouses and children, according to the National Association of Retired Federal Employees.
Earlier legislative efforts to fix the laws have failed. But there may be more cause for hope this year thanks to a bipartisan effort by two Republican House members. Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) have teamed up to introduce a bill that would address most of the bad effects of WEP and GPO. Their teamwork harkens back to a time when a coalition of Democrats and Republicans from the Washington’s fed-filled Virginia and Maryland congressional districts worked together to benefit workers and retirees. Democrats — like Rep. Steny Hoyer and Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland — took the lead getting feds more generous pay raises and benefits when a Democrat occupied the White House. Their Republican counterparts, former Virginia Reps. Tom Davis and Frank Wolf, along with former Maryland Democrat Connie Morella took the ball when Republicans controlled the White House and Congress.
Some past efforts to repeal or derail WEP and GPO have been more talk than action. This time around seems different. And doable. For one thing, the Spanberger/Davis bill has 270 bipartisan cosponsors (out of 435 House members) which is more than enough for passage. That is much, much more support than the 7,000 other bills (some symbolic or ceremonial) that have been introduced.
If the WEP/GPO reform gets called up for a vote. Since Democrats control the House the nod will have to come from the House Democratic leadership.
So why are so many former feds, cops, teachers and other public employees up in arms over the impact of the evil twins? Check out this fact sheet from NARFE, which shows the impact of the two laws in your home state. Regardless of the jurisdiction, this is a lot of votes, especially in a close congressional election.