Spanberger Calls for Full U.S. House Vote on Bipartisan Bill to Protect Social Security Benefits of Retired Law Enforcement, Firefighters, & Other Public Sector Employees

Of More Than 10,000 Bills Introduced Since January 2021, Only 16 Have More Cosponsors Than the Congresswoman’s Social Security Fairness Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today urged key U.S. House committee leaders to advance her bipartisan Social Security Fairness Act to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bipartisan legislation would eliminate both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO), two provisions of the Social Security Act that unfairly reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits for millions of Americans who have devoted much of their careers to public service — including police officers, firefighters, federal employees, and educators. Spanberger introduced the Social Security Fairness Act alongside Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) in January 2021 at the start of the 117th Congress. The bill currently has 298 cosponsors — more than all but 16 of the 10,750 bills introduced this Congress and far more than needed to pass on the floor.

In a letter to U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal and Ranking Member Kevin Brady, Spanberger called on the leaders to advance the bipartisan legislation out of committee to receive a vote by the full U.S. House of Representatives. Additionally, the Congresswoman highlighted the personal stories of Virginians who have contacted her office and shared how their hard-earned Social Security benefits have been slashed by the WEP and GPO.

“Thousands of retired police officers, firefighters, federal employees, educators, and widows have contacted my office to share stories about how the WEP and GPO have harmed their financial security in retirement,” wrote Spanberger. “In Spotsylvania, a constituent retired after a 25-year career in law enforcement only to see the WEP reduce her monthly benefit by 30%.”

Spanberger continued, “Public servants and their families should not have their benefits held hostage as bargaining chips in entitlement reform efforts – especially when over 290 members of the US House have signed on to legislation to restore them. The 117th Congress can finally be the one that fixes this long-standing inequity and protect the benefits of retirees who dedicated their careers to public service.”

Click here to read the letter, and the full letter text is below.

Dear Chairman Neal and Ranking Member Brady,

We write to encourage the Ways and Means Committee to swiftly advance H.R. 82, the Social Security Fairness Act, to the House floor for a vote without any significant changes. H.R. 82 currently has 298 co-sponsors – only 16 of the more than 10,000 bills introduced this Congress have more co-sponsors – and it’s time for the House to vote.

The Social Security Fairness Act would remove both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) from the Social Security Act. The WEP and the GPO have substantially reduced more than 2 million retired public sector employees’ Social Security benefits, affecting about 4 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries. In 2021 the WEP reduced benefits for 47,723 Virginians 1 and the GPO reduced benefits for 7,856 Virginians.2

Thousands of retired police officers, firefighters, federal employees, educators, and widows have contacted my office to share stories about how the WEP and GPO have harmed their financial security in retirement. In Spotsylvania, a constituent retired after a 25-year career in law enforcement only to see the WEP reduce her monthly benefit by 30%. In Chesterfield, the GPO reduces one widow’s benefit from her late husband’s Social Security just because she served her country in the CIA for 26 years.

Bipartisan legislation to repeal the WEP and GPO has been introduced in every Congress since 2002, but has never once received a vote. Repealing the WEP and GPO would have significant benefits for our constituents. Public servants and their families should not have their benefits held hostage as bargaining chips in entitlement reform efforts – especially when over 290 members of the US House have signed on to legislation to restore them. The 117th Congress can finally be the one that fixes this long-standing inequity and protect the benefits of retirees who dedicated their careers to public service. We urge your Committee to live up to this historic moment by reporting H.R. 82 favorably to the full House and joining our calls for the House to vote as soon as possible.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Currently, the WEP reduces the earned Social Security benefits of an individual who also receives a public pension from a job not covered by Social Security. For example, educators who do not earn Social Security in the public schools but who work part-time or during the summer in jobs covered by Social Security have reduced benefits, even though they pay into the system just like others. Likewise, the GPO affects the spousal benefits of people who work as federal, state, or local government employees — including educators, police officers, and firefighters — if the job is not covered by Social Security. The GPO reduces by two-thirds the benefit received by surviving spouses who also collect a government pension.

The bipartisan legislation is supported by several organizations representing America’s police officers, firefighters, and other public sector employees — including the Fraternal Order of Police and National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE).

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