Ways and Means Committee Holds Hearing on Windfall Elimination Provision

This was the first hearing held on the issue since 2009, and indicates some interest in the House in solving at least one of the problems federal employees who paid into the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) encounter when they retire. CSRS retirees are subject to two provisions that can reduce the amount of their Social Security benefits once they retire from the federal government. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), enacted in 1983, reduces Social Security benefit payments to federal retirees whose work histories include both Social Security-covered employment and noncovered employment, where they earned a CSRS pension but did not pay Social Security payroll taxes. The Government Pension Offset (GPO), reduces the Social Security benefits paid to spouses or survivors when their spouse or survivor earned a CSRS pension. These provisions also apply to local and state government retirees. Both these provisions use imprecise and unfair formulas to lower the Social Security benefits federal employees have earned. The focus of the hearing this week was on H.R. 711, which provides a fairer formula than is presently used for these impacted government workers’ Social Security benefits.

While NTEU is pleased to see some action on this issue, we continue to prefer the elimination of the WEP and the GPO, rather than instituting a revised formula for the WEP. H.R. 973, a bill introduced by Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) would eliminate the GPO and the WEP of the Social Security Act. A similar bill, S. 1651, has been introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

To find out more, please visit the NTEU Legislative Action Center.