Government Executive: Problem Solvers Caucus throws its weight behind an effort to kill the windfall elimination provision

GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE, ERICH WAGNER

The years-long effort to repeal a pair of controversial tax rules that negatively impact some federal workers’ retirement income got a boost Thursday in the form of the formal endorsement of the House Problem Solvers Caucus.

The Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 82), introduced last April by Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Garrett Graves, R-La., would repeal Social Security’s windfall elimination provision and government pension offset.

The windfall elimination provision reduces Social Security benefits for retired federal, state and local government employees who worked in both in the private sector and at a government job where Social Security is not intended as an element of their retirement income, such as the Civil Service Retirement System. The government pension offset reduces spousal and survivor Social Security benefits if the beneficiary is also a government employee.

“All Virginians and Americans across our country who dedicated much of their careers to public service deserve the Social Security benefits they have paid into throughout their careers,” Spanberger said in a statement. But right now, millions of Americans are being denied their full benefits due to the WEP and the GPO—two provisions which unfairly reduce public servants’ benefits. After hearing for years from police officers, firefighters, educators, federal employees and postal workers, I’ve been proud to lead the Social Security Fairness Act to make sure no American is penalized for their public service.”

Despite years of growing bipartisan support, Spanberger’s measure has never made it to the House floor for a vote. The measure now has 320 cosponsors, including 112 Republicans and most members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

“All federal workers, including police officers, firefighters and teachers, deserve their full Social Security benefits,” said caucus co-chairman Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. “As co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and a cosponsor of the Social Security Fairness Act, I am pleased our caucus has endorsed this bipartisan legislation that would give millions of these workers the benefits they rightfully accrued during their years of service to the federal government.”

Despite its broad support, some in Congress back a different bill: the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (H.R. 5342). Introduced by Reps. Jody Arrington, R-Texas, and Vincente Gonzalez, D-Texas, the measure replaces the windfall elimination provision creating a new formula for calculating the Social Security benefits of someone who split their career between private sector and pension-covered public sector work. As of Thursday, that measure had 36 cosponsors, mostly conservative Republicans in the House.

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