ATPE urges U.S. House leaders to strike a year-end deal on the WEP Social Security offset
Retirement | TRS | Social Security Congress | Federal
Date Posted: 12/02/2022
ATPE, the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA), and the Mass Retirees Association (MRA) in Massachusetts are urging Congressional leaders to complete negotiations by the end of 2022 on a deal that would finally fix the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) in federal law. The WEP reduces Social Security benefits of many educators and other public employees when they retire.
U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) have both filed bills that would repeal and replace the WEP with a more equitable formula. ATPE and the other stakeholder groups have been urging the two leaders to come together on a compromise that can be put to a vote this year.
ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes, TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee, and MRA Executive Director Shawn Duhamel authored a joint statement this week on the need to expedite the negotiations. Together, the three groups represent more than a million active and retired public employees – many of whom are harmed by the WEP. They noted that the WEP and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) affect more than two million workers, including teachers, firefighters, and law enforcement officials.
The current Congress has been considering legislation that would fully repeal both offsets. The Ways and Means Committee held a mark-up hearing on H.R. 82, the Social Security Fairness Act of 2021, earlier this year. But the U.S. House leadership has not been willing to bring that bill to the floor for a vote because of its high price tag of approximately $750 billion. The chances for a full repeal bill to pass will only decrease with upcoming changes to the leadership.
Despite the stall of the full repeal legislation, many members of the House support a bipartisan alternative, such as the bills by Neal and Brady to replace the arbitrary WEP with a “proportional” benefits formula. Their approach could easily provide up to $500 more per month for those workers who have not yet retired and a rebate of $100-$150 per month for retirees already eligible for Social Security benefits. The two bills differ in how their “hold harmless” provisions would work for those few employees who would earn higher benefits under the WEP than they would under a new formula. (Neal’s bill proposes a permanent hold harmless, while Brady’s approach would hold harmless those who are 21 or older when the bill takes effect, allowing them to choose to have their benefits calculated according to the current WEP or the new proportional formula.)
Because there are so few differences between the two bills, ATPE and the other stakeholder groups in Texas and Massachusetts are urging Neal and Brady to reach a compromise that could be passed this year as part of a year-end tax extender or omnibus spending bill.
Brady is retiring at the end of this term, and Neal is expected to be replaced as committee chair once Republicans control the House next year. Both have been staunch advocates for addressing the WEP with the ability to get a bipartisan compromise bill across the finish line if they act quickly.
ATPE encourages our members to reach out to their own members of Congress and to call those on the Ways and Means Committee, in particular, to ask them to push a WEP reform compromise bill through this year. ATPE members can log into their web account and send a message to their elected officials using Advocacy Central. Other contact options are listed below:
Call and email Congressman Richard Neal:
- Phone: (202) 225-5601
- Email: Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Message: The time is now to commit to passing a WEP solution before Congress adjourns this year! As Chairman of Ways and Means, you are critical for getting a bipartisan deal done.
Call and email Texas congressional members on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee:
- Congressman Kevin Brady
- Phone: (202) 225-4901;
- Email: Kevin.email@example.com
- Message: As the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, continue to work with Neal to get a bipartisan deal passed this Congress before time runs out.
- Congressman Jody Arrington
- Phone: (202) 225-4005
- Email: Jody.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Message: As a Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee, ask leadership to get a bipartisan deal done on WEP this Congress.
- Congressman Lloyd Doggett
- Phone: (202) 225-4865
- Email: Lloyd.email@example.com
- Message: As a Democratic member of the House Ways and Means Committee, ask leadership to get a bipartisan deal done on WEP this Congress.
ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter will join TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee for an online discussion of the WEP reform push on Monday, Dec. 5, at 4 p.m. CST. Watch the event live on YouTube or Facebook.
12/5/22 UPDATE: If you are unable to reach the representatives via email, please call their offices instead.
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