GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE, ERICH WAGNER
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., this week touted broad support among federal workers and retirees for legislation to repeal a pair of controversial Social Security provisions affecting federal employees and other public servants and urged congressional leadership to advance the bill.
The Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 82), introduced by Spanberger and Rep. Garrett Graves, R-La., would repeal Social Security’s windfall elimination provision and government pension offset, two pieces of the retirement program that impact federal employees and other government workers.
The windfall elimination provision reduces the Social Security benefits of retired federal, state and local government employees who worked in private sector jobs in addition to a government position where Social Security is not intended as an element of their retirement income, like the Civil Service Retirement System. And the government pension offset reduces spousal and survivor Social Security benefits in families with retired government workers.
Although the bill has widespread bipartisan support in Congress, garnering more than 300 cosponsors in the previous session of Congress, it failed to receive a floor vote. The latest iteration of the legislation, which was introduced in January, already has more than 200 cosponsors.
Spanberger’s office set up an informal survey of federal workers and retirees on the issue this week, and in a statement Thursday announced that responses already have been overwhelming. In the first 48 hours since the survey launched, more than 2,500 people have participated.
“I contributed to Social Security longer than I did as a federal employee contributing to the Civil Service Retirement System,” said one retired respondent. “Yet, because of the WEP, my Social Security is reduced by several thousand dollars annually. Adding insult to injury, my spouse, also a federal retiree with a very modest federal annuity, is subject to the GPO and unable to receive the spousal portion of my Social Security retirement benefit.”
“I am a retired federal employee. I also have over 30 years of employment in the private sector during which I paid into Social Security like all others in the private sector,” another wrote. “However, I am now retired and my Social Security benefits are reduced by 50%. Since I paid into Social Security under the same rules as everyone, shouldn’t I also receive benefits under the same rules?”
Spanberger said she plans to use the survey results to pressure House leadership to bring her bill to the floor for a vote.
“The thousands of experiences shared through this survey make the need to eliminate the WEP and GPO even more clear,” she said. “Retired federal employees who worked two jobs to make ends meet, police officers who worked in the private sector after retiring from the force, and federal employees married to private sector workers are all being denied the retirement benefits they deserve. Hardworking Virginians are being stripped of their hard-earned Social Security benefits—even though they paid into the system just like others. [They] should not be penalized for careers in public service.”