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Committee Takes Next Steps to Protect Social Security Benefits for All Workers as Momentum Builds for the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2015

March 15, 2016

Hardworking Americans who have paid into Social Security expect to receive the benefits they’ve earned.  However, some public employees are treated differently than all other workers when it comes time for benefit calculation. Under current law, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) arbitrarily reduces Social Security benefits for teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public servants who are also eligible to receive a public pension.

All Americans deserve the Social Security benefits they worked a lifetime to earn. That’s why Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and senior Committee Member Richard Neal (D–MA) introduced legislation that will help ensure police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public servants receive the benefits they are entitled to because of their earnings.

Known as the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (H.R. 711), this bipartisan proposal would replace WEP with a formula that treats all workers fairly.

This commonsense solution has been embraced by policymakers on both sides of the aisle – including most recently, President Obama, who incorporated a similar proposal in his Fiscal Year 2017 budget. Like H.R. 711, the President would replace WEP with a formula that accounts for a retiree’s actual work history. This proposal would also extend a similar approach to replacing the Government Pension Offset (GPO).

Momentum for this approach continues to build. Just last week, AARP – which represents 38 million retirees across the country – announced their support for H.R. 711, saying:

“We commend you for developing a fair solution to a problem that has confounded experts for decades. The Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act will provide more equitable treatment for the former state and local government employees who have earned both Social Security and state and government pensions, and who have received a reduced Social Security benefit because of it.”

And yesterday, a group of 17 organizations representing federal, state, and local workers and retirees voiced their support for H.R. 711, explaining:

“We believe the approach taken in H.R. 711 is not only fair, but also provides a workable solution to a problem we have struggled to resolve for over thirty years.”

Other groups have voiced their support for this proposal as well, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio.

In light of this growing support, the House Ways and Means Committee is moving forward with efforts to repeal WEP and replace it with a fair formula that doesn’t arbitrarily reduce benefits for police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public servants.

Next week, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing to discuss WEP and GPO, as well as reforms that will ensure benefits are calculated fairly for all workers.

As Chairman Brady said:

“Police officers, firefighters, teachers and other public servants who paid into Social Security should be treated just like every other American worker when it comes to their benefits. I’m pleased to take this first important step for this much-needed solution. I look forward to working with Congressman Neal to advance our proposal in the weeks ahead.”

For more information about the hearing, click here